Folks, we’ve seen this season before.
In 2005, the Eagles were celebrating their first Super Bowl appearance since 1980, and hopes were high the team could get back there again. After three straight failures in the NFC Championship Game, that ‘05 team headed into the season with a great offensive line, a solid QB in Donovan McNabb, a talented, if mercurial, star in Terrell Owens, and a defense that ate all season long the year before.
But while early contract disputes with T.O. eventually led to the team suspending him for the season in November — also putting a black cloud over the team right from training camp — it was a catastrophic string of injuries that ultimately led to that team’s downfall. By mid-season, the Birds had lost McNabb, running back Brian Westbrook, wide receiver Todd Pinkston, offensive lineman Tra Thomas, defensive end Jerome McDougle, center Hank Fraley, cornerback Lito Sheppard and running back Correll Buckhalter for multiple games.
Hell, even the kickers, David Akers and Dirk Johnson, had trouble staying on the field. The Eagles finished the season losing 8 of their last 10 and finished 6-10, with QB Mike McMahon at quarterback running for his life.
While the 2018 season hasn’t reached those levels quite yet, the 3-4 Eagles are clearly not headed in a good direction, and on Tuesday, they received another piece of disheartening injury news.
Eagles’ DE Derek Barnett is undergoing shoulder surgery and is now out for the season, per source. The former first-round pick recorded 2.5 sacks and 17 tackles this season.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 23, 2018
In case you are keeping score at home...
Eagles had 6 guys out due to injury in Week 7. Plus now this:— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) October 23, 2018
RB Jay Ajayi
DE Derek Barnett
CB Elie Bouka
WR Mack Hollins
S Rodney McLeod
TE Richard Rodgers
DT Destiny Vaeao
WR Mike Wallace
LB Paul Worrilow
DT Timmy Jernigan
S Chris Maragos
In a weak NFC East, and with four of their next six games against divisional opponents, there is still time for the Eagles to get things right. Carson Wentz is playing amazing football (his last drive Sunday aside), Alshon Jeffrey and Zach Ertz have been dominant, and even though they’ve lost Derek Barnett for the season, the pass rush and linebacking core have done pretty well.
But there is a reason the Eagles have been at the center of virtually every trade rumor involving a running back, wide receiver, defensive tackle or member of the secondary — they are hurting. And after coming off a Super Bowl victory with a young team, the Birds have understandably been all-in to repeat here in 2018.
However, when it comes to this trade deadline, this injury-riddled Eagles team should refrain from giving up any early-round draft picks for players who will only be here for this season.
That includes Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell, who would certainly cost at least a second round pick were the Eagles to go down that road. It also means no wide receivers like Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, or Kelvin Benjamin, all on the last year of their deals.
This isn’t to say the Eagles shouldn’t pursue options that would help the team beyond this yar. Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson is one of the game’s best at the position, and it might still be smart to acquire him, depending on the price. A first round pick for a stud like that, one who’s under team control in 2019 and ‘20, his age-29 and 30 seasons, would be both a short-term and long-term move.
After all, if the Eagles were to draft a cornerback with that first rounder, the odds they’d get someone who would be anywhere as good as Peterson is a ridiculous longshot anyway.
Players such as Denver wideout Emmanuel Sanders (under contract through next year), are a little riskier, given he will be 32 next year. But he’s still an effective burner and has 603 yards on 43 catches and 3 touchdowns this year. DeVante Parker will be just 27 next season, so a trade for him would be understandable if the asking price isn’t any higher than a 4th or 5th round pick.
However, the declining LeSean McCoy will be 31 and in the last year of his deal next year. Demaryius Thomas is having a decent year this year, but he’ll be 32. Deals for both those players would have to be ones that wouldn’t kill the Eagles in terms of 2019 draft picks.
The bottom line is, if the Eagles are considering trading for a player that becomes a free agent after the season — they should stop. While it’s too soon to call this a lost season, it certainly feels a lot like 2005.
Given all that’s happened, Howie Roseman should not be making any deals with 2018 solely in mind.