When the Eagles left the field following their season-ending 17-9 loss to the Seahawks last weekend, they did so with Greg Ward, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Robert Davis, Deontay Burnett and Shelton Gibson as their five wide receivers. They did so with Jalen Mills, Avonte Maddox and Cre’Von LeBlanc the only three cornerbacks to take snaps in the game. Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas never saw the field.
Injuries to the offensive line since the deadline further crippled that unit, and the linebacking corps was in a bit of disarray, but the two areas which were the biggest question marks going into the trade deadline this year remained the team’s biggest areas of weakness at the end of the season.
Enter general manager Howie Roseman who, unlike in 2017 and ‘18, remained silent at the trade deadline back in October, choosing not to upgrade his roster outside of trading a 2021 fourth-round pick for little-used defensive end Genard Avery.
There were a number of players who were either dealt to other teams or were rumored to have been on the block at the time, and Eagles fans were clamoring for Roseman to get one of them. But at his end-of-year news conference, Roseman explained why he stood pat at the deadline.
Howie Roseman when asked why he didn’t do more at the trade deadline: I’m as aggressive as anyone. Have to consider many things when valuing a trade. Hard to give up resources. #Eagles— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) January 8, 2020
It’s unclear precisely what teams wanted for the available players, so perhaps we should look at the actual production of the players who were either dealt or were hot in the rumor mill first and see whether it would have been worth it in the first place.
Robby Anderson - WR
Anderson was the guy most Eagles fans were hoping to get, but the Jets decided to hold onto the free agent-to-be. Anderson had a couple big games for New York, with back-to-back seven-catch games in Weeks 13 and 14 against the Bengals and Dolphins, going over 100 yards in each game. Otherwise he was relatively quiet. In the nine games after the deadline he caught 31 balls for 470 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 8.87 yards per target. That certainly would have made him the Eagles’ No. 1 receiver for their stretch run, but would he have been worth a second-round pick?
DeVante Parker - WR
We all remember what Parker did to the Eagles in Week 13, catching seven balls for 159 yards and two scores. In all he had four 100+ yard receiving games over the final two months of the season, including 111 and 137 yards the final two weeks. He caught 48 balls for 859 yards and 6 TDs after the deadline, but it’s unclear whether Parker was actually on the trade block or not.
Mohamed Sanu - WR
The Patriots had almost as much trouble with their outside receivers as the Eagles did this year and New England tried to fix it by sending a second round pick to the Falcons in exchange for Mohamed Sanu. In nine games for the Patriots he had just one game in which he caught more than three passes, a crazy 10-catch, 81-yard game in Week 9 against the Ravens. He caught just two of eight targets in Week 15, was targeted just one time in a Week 14 loss to the Chiefs, and overall caught a meager 26 passes for 207 yards and one little old touchdown. Clearly not worth the expenditure of a second-rounder.
Emmanuel Sanders - WR
The 49ers landed Sanders from the Broncos for a third-round pick and he was more productive than Sanu. He had two splash games with San Francisco, a seven-catch 112-yard performance in Week 9 against the Cardinals and a seven-catch, 157-yard effort against the Saints in New Orleans, catching a touchdown in each game. On the season he caught 66 passes for 869 yards and 5 TDs, and with the Niners hauled in 36 passes for 502 yards and three scores. Would he have been worth a third-rounder? Yes.
Demaryius Thomas - WR
Thomas went to the Patriots from the Jets for the sixth-round pick in mid-September and, by the end of the season, wasn’t on New England’s roster. The aging wideout didn’t cost New England much, but it’s hard to imagine he’d have been more productive in Philadelphia than he was for the Patriots. He caught just 36 balls for 433 yards and just one touchdown this season. Not a real upgrade.
Jalen Ramsey - CB
Ramsey went from Jacksonville to Los Angeles and to say he had a tumultuous year in L.A. would be putting it nicely. They gave up a ton to get him, but in 12 games (11 starts) this year for both the Jags and Rams, he saw his completion percentage allowed go up from 54.0% to 66.2% and QB rating when throwing to him increased from 76.4 in 2018 to 89.6 this year. Ramsey made another Pro Bowl, but for the price of TWO first rounders and a fourth-rounder, it didn’t feel as though Ramsey was the elite player he had been in his previous two seasons. He’ll be a free agent after next season.
Minkah Fitzpatrick - S
Fitzpatrick was awesome in 2019, earning first-team All-Pro Associated Press honors. He recorded 57 tackles in 14 games for the Steelers, had nine pass breakups and five interceptions. And while he cost a 2020 first round pick as well as a fifth rounder and sixth rounder in 2021, the Steelers got back a fourth-rounder this year and a seventh next year and landed the best cover safety in the game at a song through the 2022 season.
Looking back, that was the deal to make.
Chris Harris, Jr. - CB
Harris to the Eagles felt inevitable as the trade deadline approached, but it didn’t happen. The four-time Pro Bowler instead stuck in Denver to play out the final year of his contract and didn’t have as good a season as in years past in Vic Fangio’s complex zone coverage schemes, although the Broncos defense was hurt by injuries. It’ll be interesting to see, now that he’s a free agent, if Roseman has any interest in bringing the soon-to-be 31-year-old into town.
Patrick Peterson - CB
The 29-year-old missed the Cardinals’ first six games of the season and didn’t play well when he first got back, giving up 32 catches on 41 targets for 447 yards and a passer rating against of 126.3. However, he picked it up after that, holding D.K. Metcalf without a catch in Week 16 and played the final three weeks by allowing just eight catches on 20 targets for 87 yards, with a touchdown allowed but also a pick. He played Baker Mayfield, Russell Wilson and Jared Goff in those final three games and allowed a passer rating of just 49.4 (stats courtesy of Cardinals.com).
Darius Slay - CB
Slay was named to his third straight Pro Bowl this year, hauling in two interceptions and allowing a QB rating against of 81.6. That was slightly higher than last year’s 72.1, and QBs had a completion rate of 55.9% against him as opposed to 46.8% in 2018. However, contrast that to Ronald Darby, who allowed QBs a 116.8 rating against him this season. Frankly, any of these cornerbacks would have been a massive improvement, and probably worth at least a third-round pick, maybe even a second.
Jadeveon Clowney - DE
We all hate Jadeveon Clowney right now, for obvious reasons, but it’s crazy to think he could easily have been an Eagle this year. He was dealt from Houston to Seattle for two middling linebackers and a third round pick this season. Seems like a steal, right? Well, Clowney has played 14 games for Seattle this year and has just three sacks on the season, although he does have an interception return for a touchdown to go along with it. He also forced four fumbles this year but only registered a QB hit in six games. At the cost of a third-rounder, landing the pending free agent would have at least kept him from knocking Carson Wentz into next week, but it probably wouldn’t have been worth the third round pick, given his lack of overall production in 2019.
Again, without knowing specifically what the asking prices were for these players, it’s hard to know if Roseman made the right calls. For some of the players who were dealt, it’s a bit easier to see if they were worth the price.
Nevertheless, Roseman chose to stand pat this time around and the results were what they were.