Three and a half hours away from punching the clock and heading to the weekend the Eagles gave everyone something to talk about. The first shoe dropped when Adam Schefter broke the news that the San Francisco 49ers had traded up from #12 to #3 with the Miami Dolphins.
Filed to ESPN: Dolphins trading No. 3 overall pick to the San Francisco 49ers for the No. 12 pick, a 2021 third-round pick (SF’s comp pick for Robert Saleh hiring) and first-round picks in 2022 and 2023, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 26, 2021
Blockbuster deal with massive ramifications for years to come. pic.twitter.com/nRLMUaWGo5
Minutes later, in a deal that was undoubtedly worked out ahead of time, the Dolphins traded back up from #12 to #6 with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles essentially moved down 6 spots in the 1st round, up 33 spots on early day 3, and picked up the Dolphins’ first-round pick next season. Currently, the Eagles draft picks are as follows:
1 – PHI, MIA
2 – PHI, IND (can turn into a 1st)
3 – PHI
4 – PHI
5 – PHI
6 – PHI
7 – PHI
What Should We Make of This Trade?
This trade is very revealing about the current state of the Eagles front office for a number of reasons.
The Eagles Were in the QB Sweepstakes
I have said all along that the Eagles should consider drafting a QB at #6 overall. This trade shows us that they were strongly considering and likely planning to do so. But once the 49ers traded up to 3, it became a certainty that none of the top 4 QBs would be there for the Eagles to take at 6 overall. With QB no longer on the table, the Eagles chose to pivot to secondary targets and feel strongly that the benefit of adding an additional 1st round pick next season outweighs the drop off in talent from 6 to 12.
Howie Isn’t Making Win-Now Moves
When a GM is on the hot seat they often begin to make irrational moves, mortgaging the future of the team for an immediate improvement to save their job. If they get fired then what do they care about the future of the organization? Howie Roseman should certainly be under pressure in Philadelphia because of his decision-making over the last several years. Yet, it has not impacted his approach to building the team for the future. The 2021 Eagles would have been better standing at 6 and making a pick, but the 2022 Eagles are better for having traded back. Howie understood this and made the difficult decision to build for the future at the expense of the present.
The 2022 Draft is Going to Be a Lot of Fun
The Eagles currently have 2 first-round picks and 2 second-round picks in 2022. One of those second-round picks can become a first-round pick if Carson Wentz plays 75% of the snaps for the Colts in 2021 (or 70% of the snaps if they make the playoffs). Wentz has played over 70% of the snaps in 4 of his 5 seasons in the NFL and has not missed a start due to injury in 3 years. It is highly likely that that condition will be met and the Eagles will end up with 3 first-round picks next draft along with over $25 million to spend in free agency.
With QB already out of range for the 2021 draft, this gives the Eagles the chance to fully evaluate Jalen Hurts during the season and decide if he is the QB of the future or not. If so, the Eagles will be in the position to add a lot of young players through the draft around him next season. If not, the Eagles will have more draft capital than any other team and be in a prime position to trade up for their QB1.
Beyond the idea of potential trading power, the Eagles reap another major benefit from holding more picks in the 2022 draft. The 2020 college football season and 2021 NFL Draft cycle have both been impacted by COVID-19. Many college prospects opted out of the 2020 season and the NFL Combine was canceled. There are more unknowns in this draft than perhaps ever before. By sliding back a few spots the Eagles not only give themselves more options next offseason but they do so in a way that mitigates some of the inherent risk in holding a lot of draft capital this offseason.
But Why Trade Now? Why Not Wait Until Draft Day?
Ok, I’m on board with the trade. But why now? What if Ja’Marr Chase is on the board at 6? The Eagles likely know that both Ja’Marr Chase and Kyle Pitts will be on the board at 6 and chose to trade back anyway. I fully expect a team to trade to 4 for the 4th QB and for the Bengals to take Penei Sewell. There isn’t a lot of mystery around who will be there at 6. The Eagles chose to trade back anyway. But why?
This is likey the best value that you would get. The expectation is that the top 4 QBs will be gone by pick 6 and Mac Jones isn’t worth that spot. This matters because teams don’t give up as much in a trade-up for non-QBs. Could a team fall in love with a prospect and offer more on draft day? Sure, but I would consider it very unlikely.
Is it ideal to move behind 2 division rivals in the draft, especially after one of them stole CeeDee Lamb from you last year? No. But for the value that the Eagles got it makes a lot of sense.
Who Will Be On the Board at 12?
Assuming 4 QBs go off of the board in the top 11, the Eagles will be guaranteed that one of OT Penei Sewell, WR Ja’Marr Chase, TE Kyle Pitts, WR Jaylen Waddle, CB Patrick Surtain II, OT Rashawn Slater, WR DeVonta Smith, and CB Jaycee Horn will be on the board for them to select. Perhaps the Eagles will even get lucky and see some other payers come off the board like LB Micah Parsons, EDGE Kwity Paye, QB Mack Jones, and iOL Alijah Vera-Tucker. But if not, one of those top 12 will still be there to select.
If I was handicapping the Eagles likey picks at 12 I would give strong odds to CB Jaycee Horn and WR DeVonta Smith.
Rooting Interests in 2021
The Eagles possess their own 1st rounder in addition to the Dolphins 1st and the Colts conditional 1st/2nd. Eagles fans will spend much of 2021 rooting hard against the Dolphins and the Colts. In an ideal world, the Colts would miss the playoffs while Carson Wentz starts every game and the Dolphins would struggle mightily with 2nd year QB Tua Tagovailoa forced to sink or swim on his own. The strong free agency that the New England Patriots put together will hopefully help keep the Dolphins out of the playoffs, but I don’t really see a strong team in the AFC South to push the Colts out of the playoffs. If I was guessing, I would guess the Eagles’ own pick will fall in the 10-12 range while the Dolphins’ pick would land in the mid-teens and the Colts’ pick will wind up being a playoff pick.
I am disappointed that the Eagles are likely out of range for Jaylen Waddle (my preferred receiver) and Kyle Pitts. Either of those players would have been a lot of fun to watch with Jalen Hurts in 2021. However, having fully committed myself to the 2021 season being a down year, I am very excited about the potential to rebuild this team quickly through both free agency and the draft.