The Philadelphia Eagles traded Torrey Smith for Daryl Worley on Friday afternoon. Here are some thoughts on what this trade
1 - Trader Howie does it again
Howie Roseman loves to trade. Since 2010, he’s made twice as many trades as the next closest team. He’s already made 15 player deals since returning to power in 2016.
Those trades easily amount to a net win for the Eagles. Roseman is fantastic at getting value. It almost makes you wonder why other teams are even willing to deal with him since he tends to get the better side of the swap.
One can argue trades the new market inefficiency in the NFL. And based on all the pre-free agency activity we’ve seen so far, it seems like other teams are starting to catch on.
2 - The Eagles got something for a player they were going to cut
Torrey Smith was one of the surest of locks not to be back with the Eagles in 2017. Smith stepped up in the playoffs, yes, but he wasn’t worth his $5 million to Philadelphia. With no guranteed money remaining in his contract, cutting him was a no-brainer.
Except the Eagles didn’t have to cut him because the Panthers actually offered something for a 29-year-old player who had 36 receptions for 430 yards (career low 11.9 yards per reception) and two touchdowns last year. Not to mention the sixth worst drop rate of any wide receiver in 2017 (per PFF).
And it’s not like the Eagles just got a conditional seventh-round pick, which is the lowest form of compensation there is. They actually received a 23-year-old corner with potential who was a third-round pick two years ago. Even if Worley turns out to be a total flop, it will have cost the Eagles nothing since Smith wasn’t staying around. No risk move.
3 - The Eagles still need to clear cap space before March 14
Trading Smith saves the Eagles $5 million in cap space, but not until AFTER the new league year officially begins on Wednesday, March 14 at 4:00 PM ET. The trade isn’t official until then. This means that the Eagles will need to make some other moves to make sure they are cap compliant.
According to Over The Cap, the Eagles currently are over the cap by $9,871,265. Cutting Smith was one of the easiest moves they could’ve made to free up $5 million before March 14, but that won’t happen now. Brent Celek retiring also would’ve been an easy way for the Eagles to save $4 million. He said he wants to keep playing, however, so the Eagles will either have to rework his contract or cut him.
So ... what do the Eagles do now? Well, they still have options. Vinny Curry’s seemingly inevitable departure will free up $5 million. He’s obviously not as critical to keep around, especially after acquiring Michael Bennett. Cutting Mychal Kendricks would save $4.4 million, though then the Eagles would be incredibly thin at linebacker with Nigel Bradham reportedly leaving in free agency.
Reaching a contract extension with Brandon Graham could lower his cap hit this season. There are other players the Eagles can restructure, such as Jason Kelce (no guaranteed money after this season), Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, etc.
Once the Eagles get under the cap, it’s not like they’ll be done freeing up money. They still need to clear up more space to potentially re-sign players, have enough room to sign draft picks, etc.
In that regard, one thing I keep coming back to after looking at Eagles’ tight cap situation (not just this year but with a Carson Wentz extension also coming next offseason) is that I find it hard to believe the Eagles are totally fine with not saving the $5.2 million they could get by trading Foles before his roster bonus is due on March 18. Especially when there’s a chance he might not even play in 2018. And it’s not just about trading Foles for the immediate cap savings alone. It’s also about getting draft pick(s) that this team *needs* to acquire young, cost-controlled talent to help fit under the cap moving forward.
The Eagles don’t have to get rid of Foles. They can find a way to keep him. But trading him would undoubtedly be more convenient for the Eagles’ cap situation.
4 - Daryl Worley is worth taking a chance on
Back to the player the Eagles actually received in this trade. I think Worley is a good addition for Philadelphia. Again, this is a 23-year-old guy with plenty of experience (25 starts) and talent. There are some mixed reviews coming out of Carolina on him but at worst he was an up and down player.
It’s not even like the Eagles are counting on Worley to be a sure-fire starter. He’ll have an opportunity to force his way into that role, for sure. But if that doesn’t happen, he’ll at least provide the Eagles with more depth at the position. I mean, Jaylen Watkins was one of the Eagles’ top backup corners at one point last season. It’s also just more insurance in case someone like Sidney Jones or Rasul Douglas doesn’t end up panning out.
5 - The Eagles are likely going to make a move at cornerback
Here are the players the Eagles have under contract at cornerback:
Not included in this group is Patrick Robinson, who is set to be a free agent. But the Eagles reportedly have interest in bringing him back.
For now, let’s just assume P-Rob isn’t back since the Eagles are so tight on cap space.
Darby and Mills were the Eagles’ starting corners on the outside in 2017. One would think that’s bound to change in 2018 with Jones returning to the fold. If that’s the case, does Mills shift to the slot? Is Douglas nothing more than a backup? And how the heck does Worley fit in?
The Eagles have a good problem on their hands. It’s not a bad thing that they have so much talented youth at corner. But it is a situation they need to figure out.
The addition of Worley could mean at least one of the Eagles’ corners is about to be traded. NFL insider Chris Mortensen suggested as much BEFORE the Worley trade even took place.
Assuming Mort’s hunch is right, Darby could be the on the move, as we outlined earlier this week. The Eagles could get a pick for him, free up $1 million in cap space, and open up playing time for players who are potentially going to be around for more than just the 2018 season.
Another thing to consider is that the Eagles might plan to move at least one of their corners to safety. Mills played that position at LSU, so he’s an obvious candidate. With Corey Graham potentially moving on in free agency, the Eagles will be looking for a new No. 3 safety. Graham played 36% of Philly’s defensive snaps in 2017 so it’s not an insignificant role.
Once again, the Eagles have options. It’ll be interesting to see how the corner situation shakes out.
6 - It’s time for Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson to step up
The Eagles traded TWO receivers away this week: Smith and Marcus Johnson. Those players combined for 881 total offensive snaps in the regular season last year. Smith obviously served as a deep threat on the outside while Johnson was more of an ocassional role-player on offense.
With both of those guys gone, here’s what the Eagles have at receiver now:
Jeffery, Agholor, and Hollins are the only locks to make the 53-man roster in that group. Gibson has a real opportunity to step up, but he’s not making the team if he struggles as much he did last summer. Everyone else is competing for those fifth/sixth receiver jobs, AKA Johnson’s job last year.
Hollins is the real winner of Smith being gone. He made good things happen whenever his number was called upon in 2017. The 6-4, 221 pound pass catcher has good size and can stretch the field with his speed. The fact that the Eagles hired his former college coach, Gunter Brewer, to be the Eagles’ wide receivers coach bears well for Hollins. I don’t think they’ll just hand Smith’s job to Hollins without competition, but I do think he’ll impress this summer and earn his playing time.
As for Gibson, the opportunity for playing time is there. He doesn’t have Holllins’ size but he does have speed. Maybe Gibson can put his rookie struggles behind him and emerge a new player. We need to see him prove it first.
The Eagles could look to add another receiver to the mix in free agency (bargain bin) and/or the 2018 NFL Draft.
7 - The Eagles helped Torrey Smith with this trade
I have a hard time believing Smith would’ve made $5 million this year by signing with another team after getting cut. By trading him, the Eagles ensured the veteran wide receiver will still make his money (assuming no contract alterations). It’s not like the Eagles needed to keep Smith’s interests in mind but it’s a nice side bonus.