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September 22, 2023

Eagles mailbag: Who are some early trade deadline candidates?

Jimmy Kempski answers Eagles fans' questions, including the potential of trading for defensive help at the deadline.

Eagles NFL
092223JeremyChinn Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports

Panthers S/LB Jeremy Chinn

Earlier this week, we solicited questions for an Eagles mailbag via Twitter. Thank you as always for doing half the work for me. This is Part I of a two-part mailbag. Let's just get right to it.

Question from @BirdsFanInKS: What position/player is Howie spending a 4th rounder on before the trade deadline?

Before I get to some realistic players, let's first acknowledge that the odds that Howie Roseman is interested in forking over a high pick for Budda Baker, a safety making a $13.1 million base salary this season and a $14.2 million base salary in 2024 when he wouldn't go higher than $8 million per year for Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, feels very unlikely. I suppose if the Eagles really like Baker, or if the Cardinals ate some of his salary (why would they?) then maybe something could get done, but don't get your hopes up.

Some guys who make sense otherwise:

LB/S Jeremy Chinn, Panthers: This was a suggestion in a separate question from @7he_Reason. As you may or may not know, if the Eagles hadn't selected Jalen Hurts in the 2020 draft, they would have taken Chinn. According to Mike Kaye of the Charlotte Observer, Chinn is a player who could maybe be dealt at the deadline:

Chinn has always been an unusual fit within this defense. He’s kind of a man without a home, despite the staff’s constant praise of him. While Brian Burns’ name will be thrown around with trade rumors before the deadline, Chinn should probably be right there with him. 

In the final year of his deal, Chinn could presumably net the Panthers a Day 3 pick on trade market if they decide to move on before free agency and pass up the opportunity for a compensatory pick in 2025.

Chinn would make a whole lot of sense for Sean Desai's defense in a safety/linebacker/slot corner hybrid role, particularly against opposing tight ends.

LB Zaire Franklin, Colts: Franklin is from the Philadelphia area, and if you'll recall from this summer, was involved in a melee during Eagles-Colts joint practices. He signed a three year, $10 million contract with the Colts during the 2022 offseason, and is under contract through 2024. After two weeks, Franklin leads the NFL with 30 tackles. At 27 years of age, he is probably a better fit for a contender than he is for a rebuilding team.

CB/S Jalen Thompson: In my opinion, Thompson is a Cardinals player who makes more sense than Baker. He can play safety, he can play slot corner, he's productive, and he hasn't missed a game since 2020. He would solve the Eagles' slot corner situation, and then some. The catch is that he signed a lucrative deal during the 2022 offseason, so the Cardinals would have to take a cap hit to deal him. They'd probably be looking for at least a Day 2 pick for it to be worth their while.

Question from @cocoeagles88: I know the Eagles are trying to "sell" running back by committee, but after D'Andre Swift's performance, how much Kenny Gainwell / Rashaad Penny are we going to see each game?

If Gainwell is back for the Bucs game, as he is expected to be, then Penny will likely be a healthy scratch, like he was Week 1 in New England. I imagine that after Swift's performance Week 2, he is now the top back, as he obviously should have been all along.

"We're going to ride the hot hand," Nick Sirianni said on Thursday, when he was asked if Swift can consistently handle the heavy workload he got against the Vikings. "Do I think it's sustainable? Shoot, his body is ready to go. I don't ever want to put an expectation on anybody. If he's got the hot hand on Monday night, we'll keep rolling with him. We feel really good about the work he puts in to make sure his body is right."

Question from @brianwiorasport: Hey Jimmy! The Eagles have played in two “one score games” this year in similar fashion (get a big lead and give it up). Do you see that pattern continuing against inferior opponents this year, especially their next three games — TB, WAS, LAR?

They had a bunch of those types of games last year as well, against the Lions, Cardinals, Packers, Bears, and Giants. I do think they were living on the edge these first two weeks more than they were in some of those games last year. But yes, that has been a pretty consistent pattern.

Question from @GreaseThePoles: Who’s better - 2022 Eagles after 2 weeks or 2023 Eagles?

Unquestionably, 2022. In Week 1 last year, the offense came out smoking hot, but the concern area was the defense. In Week 1 this year, the offense was sluggish, and the defense made some plays but also gave up a bunch.

In Week 2 last year, the Eagles absolutely obliterated the Vikings. Jalen Hurts had the best game of his career (at the time) that night, and Darius Slay shut down Justin Jefferson. That was a moment where folks began to take notice that they might be pretty good. This year, the passing offense still didn't look quite right yet, and the defense once again gave up a bunch of plays.

By the way, in Week 3 last year, the Eagles sacked Carson Wentz nine times:

There's a pretty good chance they won't have as emphatic win Week 3 this year as they did in 2022.

Question from @ftandru: Jake Elliott is off to a great start and has been a big part of the offense. How badly will the kicking game be affected by a change from Siposs?

I think the importance of kicker/holder continuity is little overblown. However, in this case, Mann and Elliott have worked together in the past.

"We've always kind of gone to the same kicking camps, so I've held for him a few times, so that definitely helps," Mann said. "Holding is holding, there's not that much of a change. It's a rhythm thing. Once you get into practice and you get to know each others' tendencies, it's little stuff. Other than that though, holding is holding, and guys like get adjusted a little bit differently, but the adjustments don't take very long."

Question from silverdj7: With various left and right tackles lining up further back (hello Jawaan Taylor and others), doesn't this tip the opposing defense that it's most likely a pass play so it actually benefits the defense more than the tackle?

Yeah, Week 1 the television commentators were perplexed why the Lions weren't screaming at the officials for allowing Taylor to be lined up so far off the ball. But as you note, they were probably willing to let Taylor cheat a bit if it tipped run vs. pass. The Chiefs are going to have to get that fixed.

Question from ThisFnGameIsOvr: Is Justin Evans better than K'Von Wallace?

Yes, I think Evans has been fine so far.

Question from @flashgordonfann: The last time you were star struck when you were in the press box?

I wouldn't say that I've ever really been "star struck," but there have been a few times where I've been in the presence of a celebrity at a game or other NFL event and I took particular notice.

• Every year at the NFL owner's meetings, there's a big party with an open bar and a ridiculous food spread. This past year they had a llama petting zoo, lol. I'd estimate that 80-plus percent of the league's head coaches, general managers, and owners attend. The first time I ever attended this party, I was loading up my plate with food and John Elway was behind me in line. That was kind of like a "Holy crap if 11-year-old Jimmy could see this he'd freak out" moment.

• After the Eagles-Bears "double doink" game, Ashton Kutcher was down by the locker rooms postgame. He's a Bears fan, and looked devastated. Again, "star struck" isn't how I'd put it, but it's weird to just be doing your job, and you turn around and Ashton Kutcher is standing there.

• After the Eagles-Colts game last year, a group of media folks and I were walking toward the locker rooms in the tunnel, and coming the other way was John Mellencamp, who is a Colts fan. This was of course a game the Eagles won on a game-winning drive by Jalen Hurts. Jeff McLane remarked to the other media folks that someone should have said "Hurts so good" to Mellencamp. In case you're unaware, "Hurts So Good" is a Mellencamp song. It was literally the only time ever that saying "Hurts so good" would have been funny and Jeff passed it up, smh.

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