Howie Roseman is the king of trades. The Eagles have made more swaps than any other team since he came to power in 2010. And the 2017 PFWA Executive of the Year is not done wheeling and dealing just yet.
NFL insider Jason La Canfora, who has a good relationship with Roseman, dropped some interesting information in a piece he wrote after visiting Eagles training camp this week. Take it away, Jason.
I’d be shocked if the Eagles don’t make at least two more trades before they play a game that counts. This roster is shaping up to be deeper than a year ago and possibly better than a year ago and barring a rash of injuries at particular position groups, they could have more running backs, quarterbacks and defensive backs than they can carry. Howie Roseman will be working the phones, trust me. They may well have too many quality players to fully utilize and if Roseman can spin some of that quantity into truly elite quality for a particular player, he’ll explore every option to do so. And Foles is the biggest trade chip of all, who could yield a reward of future top drafts picks to replenish what they gave away to move up to get Wentz and keep the waters of young, cheap talent flowing here. There is a sense Sudfeld can play in the league and is developing quite well, which could provide ample cover in the event they did move Foles.
OK, there’s a lot to unpack there.
First, let’s start by looking back at last year. Roseman made a total of seven player trades in 2017. Five of those occurred from July 26 through August 28. This rumor certainly passes the smell test.
Next, it’s interesting that La Canfora specifically highlighted “running backs, quarterbacks and defensive backs.” I don’t think the Eagles have any great running back trade chips.
Quarterback and defensive back is a different story. As La Canfora notes, Foles is “the biggest trade of all.” He could get the Eagles a pretty good return if some team is desperate enough for quarterback help. I don’t know what team that would be at this point. Not to mention Teddy Bridgewater is also potentially out there and could be cheaper than acquiring Foles.
But from the Eagles’ perspective, Foles should be more expendable now that Carson Wentz is looking like he’s ready for Week 1 and Nate Sudfeld is showing some signs of at least being a capable No. 2. Philadelphia doesn’t have to trade Foles by any means but it’d be unfortunate if they passed on an opportunity to get a high pick just for him not to play at all in 2018. I mean, it’d be great if he doesn’t have to play this year, because that would mean Wentz is staying healthy, but the point about value still stands. The Eagles could very well end up receiving a 2020 late third-round compensatory pick AT BEST if Foles walks in free agency after this season. That’s much worse than a potential first they could get in the 2019 NFL Draft.
At cornerback, Ronald Darby is the logical name to watch. He’s on the last year of his rookie deal and it remains to be seen if the Eagles will pay him given that they have a bunch of young, affordable corners like Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas waiting in the wings. The feeling here is that Darby shouldn’t be traded for anything less than a second-rounder. Even if the Eagles aren’t going to re-sign him, he has value as a starting player on a squad that’s realistically trying to compete for the Super Bowl again this year.
The last interesting note I wanted to highlight is La Canfora’s point about the Eagles turning “quantity into truly elite quality for a particular player.” That’s intriguing. What might that even look like? On an Eagles roster that’s already stacked with talent, what position could they be looking to address?
Defensive tackle comes to mind. The Eagles are still kind of thin there depending on the severity of Timmy Jernigan’s back injury. Fletcher Cox and Haloti Ngata seems like a fine starting duo, and Michael Bennett will get some interior looks, but we all know Jim Schwartz can never have enough defensive linemen. He loves to heavily rotate those guys. And if Cox or Ngata goes down, the Eagles are suddenly starting Destiny Vaeao or Elijah Qualls on a full-time basis, which doesn’t seem ideal.
Linebacker is another position that could make some sense. I don’t see it so much because Philadelphia really only uses two linebackers on a regular basis and Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham are set to fill those roles. And, let’s be real, linebacker isn’t exactly the most valued position by this regime.
It’s important to remember the Eagles are limited with whom they can acquire when it comes to the financial aspect of the equation. According to Over The Cap, the Eagles only have $5.9 million in cap space. They’ll likely need to acquire a player on his rookie deal, like how they did with Darby and Ajayi last year.
Speaking of those trades, I could easily see Roseman pulling the trigger on a guy if he feels like his addition maximizes this current Super Bowl window.
At the same time, I hardly think he’s opposed to continuing to load up on picks for the 2019 NFL Draft. The Eagles are currently projected to own 11 selections next year. It’s important that the Eagles really continue to hit on their draft picks because they’ll need as much affordable talent as they can get after signing Wentz to a mega-contract. That deal is going to limit the Eagles’ future cap space, which is ultimately a good problem to have.
It’ll be fun to see what Roseman has up his sleeve. He’s always tinkering with the roster. As Zach Berman recently noted, the Eagles had eight players on their Super Bowl 53-man roster who weren’t with Philadelphia at the start of 2017 training camp. That’s 15% of the team. It’s good to know Roseman is always looking for ways to get better.