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October 24, 2020

What they're saying: Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery and the latest Eagles trade rumors

The one good thing about playing on Thursday Night Football is that it gives you a chance to step back and look at the big picture — and this time of year, that means NFL trade rumors. 

Typically, you get a day or two after a given game to react and analyze, and then the focus quickly shifts to the next opponent to begin breaking down matchups and odds and more. Rinse and repeat. But this weekend, with the Eagles already having taken care of business against the Giants, there's a little room to breathe, even with another primetime division matchup for first place on the horizon in Dallas next Sunday night. 

But before we turn the page and begin Dallas Week in earnest, let's take a quick look at the latest news and rumors ahead of the Nov. 3 trade deadline, which is now just over a week away. Here's what they're saying... 

Eagles hanging on to Ertz?

Albert Breer | Sports Illustrated

This report came out prior to the Eagles' comeback win over the Giants that moved them into first place in the NFC East, but it's still an important one for Eagles fans to read.

For starters, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated points out that Alshon Jeffery is very clearly available, as they continue to shop the veteran wideout ahead of the deadline. Zach Ertz, however, is not.

That's because there are apparently two categorizations of players on IR this year with the new rules. And therefore Zach Ertz is not apparently eligible to be traded, as he can't come off IR until after the Nov. 3 trade deadline and has been hit with the "minor" injury tag, which according to Breer means he's staying with the Birds at least through this season.

The Eagles have gotten a lot of calls on their players as well, which makes sense given how their season’s gone and where their cap is the next couple of years. Alshon Jeffery is very clearly available. There have been calls on tight end Zach Ertz, too, and Philly delaying a day or two on moving Ertz to IR raised some eyebrows—this year, you have to designate guys on IR as having major or minor injuries, and guys categorized as having minor injuries can’t be traded. The Eagles designated Ertz as a minor injury, so that’s that on him.  []

I'd just like to say that this rule makes no sense to me, as it seems like the guys with minor injuries should be the ones allowed to be traded, not the other way around. But Breer knows far more about the NFL rules than I do, so I'm going to have to defer to him on this one. 

That being said, if this is the path Howie Roseman chose to take, it also makes no sense. In fact, it would be flat-out dumb. And I don't think Howie Roseman is dumb, at least when it comes to roster management. Say what you want about his talent evaluation, but the guy knows the ins and outs of the CBA better than most and has been able to take advantage of that for years. Limiting his ability to trade one of his biggest trade chips doesn't seem like a move he'd make. 

Unless the thinking here — and I wouldn't agree with this, at all — was to avoid any temptation to trade Ertz at the deadline, when his injury coupled with his slow start to the season might've caused his value to go down. Now, the Eagles can hope that a healthy Ertz can contribute down the stretch and increase his value before the next trade window opens this offseason.

Come back from injury to help your team try to win a meaningless division just so they can trade you in the offseason? That's cold, especially to do to a guy like Ertz, but it's nature of the business.

Again, this is all totally hypothetical, and just me rambling because I don’t understand the “major” vs  “minor” thing. So let’s move on... 

Birds shopping for OL, LB help

Paul Domowitch and Joe Banner |

While most reports paint the Eagles as sellers ahead of the trade deadline, at least one person thinks there's a chance they could be buyers. After all, they're in first place and Howie Roseman has a history of bringing in guys at the deadline — he's done it each of the last three seasons. 

It's unlikely that "buyers" means the Eagles go out and spend big, but if the Birds want to bring in some minor additions that they believe can help them weather the hurricane of injuries they've suffered this season, then maybe it's worth a look, especially if it's a move to bring in a player who will, say, help keep your franchise quarterback healthy and upright after he's been the most-hit QB in the NFL this season. 

Here's a snippet from Paul Domowitch's recent interview with former Eagles president Joe Banner:

Domo: Before the game on Thursday, Fox Sports' Jay Glazer said the Eagles are potential trade-deadline sellers. He said they have told teams they will listen to offers for some of their players. Truth or fake news?

JB: Well, I know for sure the Eagles have had conversations with teams about offensive linemen and linebackers that they are interested in acquiring in a trade. So that contradicts the notion that they’re going to be consequential sellers.

Now, I know what the philosophy of the organization has been for many, many years, and Howie (Roseman) obviously practices this. You never want to shut the door and not listen. So if you’re talking to teams about trades and they ask you if you have anybody you’re looking to move, the obvious correct answer is you say we’re open to looking at anybody if the price is right. Because why would you not at least listen and see if somebody’s willing to really overpay for someone you might have a different valuation of, or a contract situation that makes you interested in moving them?

But I think their mindset is to see if they can’t get a couple of wins here, try to get a little healthier, make a pickup or two before the trade deadline, nothing major, but maybe incremental improvements, and see if they can win the division and see what happens in the postseason.  []

Well, that would at least be somewhat palatable, but at that point the Eagles just might as well stand pat. The belief here remains that the Eagles would be best served by trading away some of their older veteran players to better position themselves financially moving forward. We all know how bad the Eagles' cap situation is next year, and by shedding some money now while you can get back draft picks in exchange might not be the worst idea. 

One of the players who we already mentioned is on the block is Alshon Jeffery, as the team has reportedly been trying to deal him for a year at this point. And yet, nothing, which probably has to do with the fact that he hasn't played in nearly the same amount of time after suffering a season-ending foot injury last year. This week, just as he was looking ready to return, Jeffery suffered a new injury (calf) and remains out. It would be nice to see him on the field so he could perhaps audition for potential suitors before the deadline, but even then, it's tough to see a way in which the Eagles are able to move him and his contract. 

But that doesn't mean Howie Roseman and Co. aren't trying. 

Domo: Is Alshon Jeffery pretty much untradeable at this point?

JB: There are some ways the Eagles could do something so that the contract would help an acquiring team. But I don’t see how they can move him at this point. I’d be really surprised. And that’s even assuming that they’d be willing to take very little just to get him off the books. But it only takes one team. So you never want to say absolutely. But I would be very surprised if he’s marketable at this point.  []

The only deals Howie should make

Dave Zangaro | NBC Sports Philadelphia

So will the Eagles make a move? In his latest mailbag, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Dave Zangaro was asked about this, specifically whether or not Roseman would be willing to buy at the deadline if it meant giving up draft picks. And Dave hits the nail on the head — absolutely not. 

That being said, giving up a late-round pick for a young player under team control for a few years? Not the worst idea. 

Here's the full question asked to Dave: "Do you see Howie making any moves forfeiting draft picks when the team desperately needs to hit on this upcoming draft?"

And his answer:

This is obviously one of the biggest questions surrounding the Eagles right now. Sure, they have a chance to win the NFC East, but will they really be buyers at the deadline? Is that even worth it? 

The easy way to answer that is no way. Of course the Eagles shouldn’t give away draft picks to bring in any sort of rental player. Even if the Birds win the division with a 6-9-1 record or something similar, they need those draft picks to rebuild this team. The more draft picks, the better chances of hitting. They’re like lottery tickets in a way. 

So even though Howie Roseman has made a deadline trade to bring in a player in each of the last three seasons, I just can’t see the Eagles giving up picks to do it again this year … at least not for a rental. 

The one caveat here is if the Eagles find a young player who has fallen out of favor in another city, sort of like the Genard Avery deal last year. While that deal hasn’t exactly worked out great, the idea behind it was that the Eagles were trading a draft pick for a young player with a couple more years of team control and a rookie contract. So maybe that type of deal might happen, but that’s the only way the Eagles should even think about trading for a player.  []

Another Cunningham in Philly?

Jason La Canfora | CBS Sports

Earlier, Joe Banner mentioned the Eagles possibly looking to bring in some linebacking help (in addition to OL help) and would you really blame them? Their linebackers have been terrible. 

Eagles – Zach Cunningham

They need a boost at linebacker but expect to get much healthier after their bye at offensive line and wide receiver. The NFC Least is sitting there for the taking and GM Howie Roseman is all about that trade action. Yeah Cummingham just signed a new deal and sure, the Eagles have some cap stuff to sort through, but maybe they sort out a creative means to get it done. Having him able to run around and help in pass coverage would be huge.  []

Matt's take: No way are the Eagles taking on that contract (his four-year, $58 million deal kicks in next season) unless he's involved in some sort of player-for-player trade, and those are rare. Even then, the Birds would be wise to look for some less expensive options, especially with T.J. Edwards nearing a return and Alex Singleton flashing. Not to mention the fact that the Eagles drafted two linebackers in the first five rounds back in April and hope they'll develop into regular contributors for the defense. 

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin

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