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November 05, 2021

Grading the Eagles' trade deadline deals, and non-deals

Now that the dust has settled on the NFL trade deadline, let's grade each of the three deals made by the Philadelphia Eagles, as well as some deals that did not happen.

Eagles trade Zach Ertz to the Cardinals for a fifth-round pick and CB Tay Gowan

A fifth-round pick and a developmental cornerback was reasonable compensation for Ertz, who will turn 31 in five days and who is in the final year of his contract. The Eagles also shed the unpaid portion of his $8.5 million salary.

With Ertz moving on, Dallas Goedert is now the unquestioned starting tight end, and will no longer have a ceiling on his potential production. Goedert is also in the final year of his contract, but is now more likely to sign a contract extension in Philadelphia, or if need be, have the franchise tag slapped on him this offseason.

If there's criticism to be made on this deal, it's that the Eagles didn't pull the trigger sooner. They had offers for similar compensation during this past offseason, but passed. By waiting, they paid Ertz $3 million in salary that could have gone elsewhere, and they risked him getting hurt, which could have put them on the hook for the entirety of his $8.5 million salary, with no returning compensation at all. They were fortunate to avoid that disaster.

As for Gowan, we took a deeper look at him here, but the short-short version is that he's a decent enough developmental prospect worth getting added into the deal.

The overall Ertz trade was fine, but waiting around for a better offer that was unlikely to come was bad process, in my opinion. It underscores once again that the Eagles wildly overrate their own players, and they often misfire on risk vs. reward in their decision-making processes.

Grade: B-

Eagles trade Joe Flacco to the Jets for a conditional sixth-round pick

The sixth round pick was originally owned by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, so it'll be late in the round, since the Bucs are a near certainty to make the playoffs. The sixth-round pick can become a fifth-round pick if Flacco plays at least 50 percent of the snaps in at least four games, a highly unlikely scenario.

The trade itself here is fine. Actually, it's a minor miracle that another team would give up a sixth-round pick for Flacco at this stage of here career. However, the Eagles should not be praised too much on this deal, because there are drawbacks.

To begin, the Eagles' signing of Flacco this offseason was baffling. At the time they did the deal, Jalen Hurts was the only quarterback on the roster, so they did need a backup. However, for some insane reason, they gave Flacco $3.5 million, guaranteed

In 2020, the New York Jets paid Flacco a mere $1,562,500 on a one-year deal, and he proceeded to go 0-4 as a starter, with a QB rating of 80.6. The notion that Flacco deserved a 224 percent increase in pay from the Eagles a year later, all of which was guaranteed, was simply laughable for a team that was clearly not going to be serious contenders in 2021. Of course, $3.5 million isn't going to break the franchise, but the accumulation of a lot of small bad decisions can be hindering.

Because the Eagles were extremely tight against the cap when they signed Flacco, they had to put a hefty portion of his cap charges into "dummy years" after his contract expired. We'll save the long, boring explanation on the mechanics of all that, but that's achieved by paying the tab upfront.

Because the Eagles already paid Flacco the majority of his contract already, they will be left with $2,843,056 ($903,056 in 2021, $1,940,000 in 2022) in dead money, for a player who never played a single snap for them.

Ultimately, the Eagles paid $2,843,056 for likely a late sixth-round pick.

Grade: C+

Eagles trade a conditional sixth-round pick to the Broncos for CB Kary Vincent, Jr.

To begin, let's get to the conditions. When the Eagles executed this trade, they owned two sixth-round picks:

  1. The sixth-round pick from the Jets (via the Bucs) from the Flacco trade, that can become a fifth-round pick if Flacco hits playing time benchmarks, as noted above.
  2. The sixth-round pick from the Colts from the Matt Pryor trade.

The Eagles will send to the Broncos whichever of those two picks ends up being lower in the draft order at the end of the season. (It will likely be the pick from the Jets.)

Vincent was a seventh-round pick (237th overall) in the 2021 NFL Draft. He made the Broncos' 53-man roster, but has not yet played a snap in an NFL regular season game. The Eagles selected four players in the sixth or seventh rounds of the 2021 draft, all before Vincent.

Player Round Overall 
DT Marlon Tuipulotu, Eagles 189 
DE Tarron Jackson, Eagles 191 
LB JaCoby Stevens, Eagles 224 
LB Patrick Johnson, Eagles 234 
CB Kary Vincent, Broncos 237 

The 2021 draft was thought to be a very shallow (as in, not deep) draft, since a lot of players who would have normally entered the draft stayed in school because COVID had major implications on the 2020 college football season. As such, it's somewhat illogical for the Eagles to have traded a sixth-round pick for a player selected in the seventh-round of a very shallow draft, especially when that player hasn't really done anything to improve his stock, and when the Eagles already had four shots to take him, but took other players instead when they had major needs at corner. Eh, whatever.

During the 2021 draft, the Eagles drafted Zech McPhearson in the fourth round. They have continued collecting cornerbacks since:

  1. 5/18: They traded a sixth-round pick to Jacksonville for Josiah Scott.
  2. 6/25: They signed Steven Nelson.
  3. 9/2: They claimed Andre Chachere off of waivers from Indy.
  4. 9/7: They signed Mac McCain off of Denver's practice squad.
  5. 10/15: They traded Zach Ertz to Arizona for a fifth-round pick and Tay Gowan.
  6. 11/2: They traded a sixth-round pick to Denver for Kary Vincent, Jr.

The Eagles currently have nine (!) cornerbacks on their roster, lol. Still, I can respect that strategy. With Nelson and Avonte Maddox scheduled to become unrestricted free agents this offseason — and Darius Slay turning 31 in January — it makes sense to get a look at all of these young corners in practice every day, and if one or two pan out, then great.

Grade: C+

Moves that weren't made

As the trade deadline approached, reports started popping up that the Eagles were getting offers on Fletcher Cox. Like this:

Or this: 

And others. Since teams potentially interested in trading for Cox wouldn't want that known so as to keep his price down, I wonder where those reports were generated. 🤔

After the deadline came and went, Jeff McLane of the Inquirer reported that the Eagles were shopping Cox: 

That report certainly jibes with the Eagles' obvious play to make him available through national media types.

However, because they made an unforced error by needlessly restructuring Cox' contract eight weeks ago, the Eagles made Cox nearly impossible to trade

Add in another unnecessary contract restructure to Derek Barnett, and no deal for Andre Dillard, likely because, again, they're overvaluing his worth, and there were missed opportunities to save money while acquiring assets for players who may not be part of the long-term plan.

Grade: D

Overall trade deadline grade: C

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