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October 30, 2019

What they're saying: Grading the Eagles at the trade deadline and looking at moves they can still make

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Howie-Roseman-Eagles_103019_usat Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman.

In case you missed it — and this year, as opposed to previous years, it was easy to miss if you weren't paying attention — the NFL trade deadline passed on Tuesday. The Eagles, after acquiring defensive end Genard Avery on Monday, remained quiet on deadline day, much like the rest of the NFL. And that came much to the dismay of many Birds fans, who were hoping Howie Roseman and Co. would make a big splash that could help propel their 4-4 team into legit Super Bowl contenders.

On Wednesday, Doug Pederson was asked about his team remaining mostly quiet at the deadline, and like he hinted at in the lead up to Tuesday afternoon, the Eagles head coach pointed to the fact that the Eagles will actually be getting reinforcements soon anyway in the form of injured players returning to the field.

"Yeah, you look around the league and there wasn't a whole lot going on and I think teams are comfortable and very confident with the guys they have, just like us. We are excited," he told reporters at the NovaCare Complex. "The number one thing is we are getting guys back. We're getting guys healthy here quickly and it goes into a lot of the decisions. 

"But we take a look. When I say we — Howie [Roseman] and obviously myself have conversations about a lot of different situations. But I feel really good about where we are as a team and what we have coming down the pipe."

And he has a point.

It's not like the players the Eagles will be getting back are a bunch of scrubs. The injured list currently includes several key players on both sides of the ball — DeSean Jackson, Jason Peters and Darren Sproles on offense; Tim Jernigan, Nigel Bradham and Avonte Maddox on defense — and some have a chance at returning as early as this week against the Bears, or possibly after the buy when the Patriots come to town. And that doesn't include Miles Sanders, injured in last week's win over Buffalo.

Naturally, that's the way the team is going to spin their lack of action at the deadline. They'll also point to the high price tags reportedly out there for several of the guys they were interested in acquiring, like wideout Robby Anderson or cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Darius Slay.

But a cynic would point to the Eagles possibly understanding that, even with some potential deadline additions, they wouldn't be good enough to make a Super Bowl run this season.

The truth is, the answer is probably somewhere in between, and the Eagles didn't want to waste valuable draft picks in order to overpay for guys who might not make enough of a difference this season, especially when several starters are expected to return in the coming days and weeks.

As an Eagles fan, you might not like it. But given the market, it was probably the right move long term.

So, how did the local and national media view what the Eagles did (or didn't do) at the 2019 NFL trade deadline? Let's take a look in this week's edition of What They're Saying...

Winners or losers?

Dan Graziano | ESPN

Over at ESPN, Dan Graziano sorted NFL teams, players and even the fans into winners and losers following the trade deadline, and he didn't have any qualms putting the Eagles squarely in the "Loser" category...

The Eagles needed help on defense in the worst way and came up with only Genard Avery, Cleveland's fifth-round pick from 2018 who's basically a developmental pass-rusher.

No help for the beleaguered secondary. No help for the defensive line. Philly's schedule also gets a lot easier from here, and the team believes a roster it thought was excellent before the season can be excellent once everyone gets healthy.

The Eagles could have used the boost a big deadline deal would have provided on the field and in the locker room.  [espn.com]

What's better than losing?

Cody Benjamin | CBS Sports

Well, it doesn't fully make up for Graziano calling the Eagles deadline losers, but Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports is slightly higher on the Eagles, listing them as "On The Fence." That's kind of taking the easy way out, but it's hard to argue with. They didn't better themselves in the short term, but by protecting their future draft picks, they didn't hurt themselves in the long term. And, as Benjamin points out, betting on injured veterans to return to full health is always a risky proposition.

Sounds like they belong on the fence to me...

Philadelphia Eagles

Whenever you have one of the NFL's most aggressive general managers, you expect big, bold moves, and the Eagles steered clear of those this season despite ties to a number of big names since the start of September -- Clowney, Ramsey and Melvin Gordon among them. Numerous reports indicated Philly called about Harris and Detroit Lions CB Darius Slay on Tuesday but consistently deemed prices too high for their liking. That's just fine if teams were genuinely overvaluing talent (thinking of the Jets and Robby Anderson, in particular), and Roseman already dealt for a high-upside pass rusher in Genard Avery on Monday, but it's also hard not to be concerned about their WR depth moving forward. DeSean Jackson is apparently getting healthy, but he's 32, and what if he aggravates his prior injury? If he gets banged up again, they'll be putting a lot of pressure on Carson Wentz to lead a mostly plodding attack.  [cbssports.com]

Grading the Avery trade

Adam Stites and Christian D'Andrea | SB Nation

Over at SB Nation, they graded the few trades that actually did happen ahead of the NFL trade deadline. And in the one deal the Eagles made, they came away looking like the losers, although they still got a passing grade, albeit not one you'd want to hang on your refrigerator.

For their part in the Genard Avery trade, Stites and D'Andrea gave the Browns an A. As for the Eagles...

Eagles grade: C

Avery showed off some reasonable pass rushing chops as a rookie, notching the aforementioned 4.5 sacks and adding 14 quarterback hits. He’s not especially versatile, but he’s capable of cleaning up the mess a wrecking ball lineman leaves in the pocket. That was Myles Garrett in Cleveland. Now it’ll be Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett, and Brandon Graham in Philadelphia.

Avery might shine in a new environment, but hooooo boy, that’s a high price for a player who couldn’t make an impact for a 2-5 team.  [sbnation.com]

Foot off the gas?

Zack Rosenblatt | NJ.com

Sometimes, your words can come back to hurt you. Like when Howie Roseman said last season that the organizations "foot is always going to be on the gas" when it comes to improving the team. This year, they seemed to be more on cruise control, and as Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com points out, there were smaller deals that could've been made to improve the team.

After making a massively impactful in-season acquisition in 2017 with Jay Ajayi, maybe that Golden Tate trade last season left a bad taste in his mouth?

It’s not worth selling the farm, certainly, for a band-aid, but there were other more low-key avenues where Roseman could’ve addressed areas of need on the trade market, especially at defensive tackle.

Either this means Roseman doesn’t think the Eagles are good enough to contend this year, or he’s satisfied that the roster as it’s currently constructed is good enough to contend.

When the Eagles traded for Golden Tate last year — in retrospect, a bad deal — Roseman said “The message to our fans, to our players, to our coaches, to everyone in this organization is our foot is always going to be on the gas. We’re always trying to win. We’re always going to try to put our best foot forward.”

This year, it seems the Eagles took their foot off the gas.  [nj.com]

The deals that didn't happen...

Albert Breer | MMQB

Over at Sports Illustrated, Albert Breer broke down the NFL trade deadline and said that Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Chris Harris were the two players he was most surprised to see go un-traded. As for the Eagles' lack of action, here's what he said about how Carson Wentz' contract extension may have played a role in the team's quiet day.

• Two players I was surprised weren’t moved: Broncos CB Chris Harris and Eagles OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Harris could’ve been had for a second-round pick. And given the interest in corners across the NFL, even though Harris isn’t signed past this year, I’d have thought he’d have been worth that. Ditto on Vaitai—I figured the offensive line issues across the NFL would’ve pushed the market for him. ...

• Is it surprising the Eagles didn’t land a corner? Sure, a little, and especially considering that they were in the thick of the Ramsey sweepstakes. But one thing I do know is that their dynamic has changed a little with Carson Wentz off his rookie deal. They’ll value draft picks a little more going forward, knowing that’s where they’ll have to fill their roster out—without as much financial breathing room to spend on veterans.  [si.com]

... and how they should be graded

Steven Ruiz | The Big Lead

Over at The Big Lead, Steven Ruiz took a look at the trades that didn't happen. And one of the big ones was the Eagles trying unsuccessfully to land Chris Harris Jr. from the Broncos.

Interestingly enough, the Eagles got a better grade for not making this trade than they got for the one trade they actually pulled off.

Analysis: The Eagles have had issues dealing with slot receivers this season, so bringing in the best slot defender of the last decade would have made a lot of sense. But if the asking price was too high, then it makes even more sense for the Eagles to pass.

Philadelphia still has a shot at the playoffs — a 53% chance, per FiveThirtyEight — but there’s a wide gap between the top of the conference (where the Saints and 49ers reside) and the rest of the playoff contenders, and trading for a single cornerback was not going to close that gap much.

Mortgaging the future for a season that isn’t likely to end with a trip to the Super Bowl would not have been a smart move. Philly’s best path was letting this season play out before reloading in the offseason.

GRADE: B+ 
[ftw.usatoday.com]

So, what now?

Mike Kaye | NJ.com

The good news for Eagles fans is that there are still ways for them to improve their team before the end of the season. It just won't involve any trades.

As Mike Kaye wrote over at NJ.com, one thing the Birds could do is convince Chris Long to come out of retirement, although he seems to be having a blast and living his best post-NFL live, so good luck with that. Another option could be attempting to claim Aqib Talib off waivers if/when the Dolphins get rid of him. Or, perhaps adding Josh Gordon if the Patriots ever decide to actually waive him....

2. Claim Josh Gordon on waivers: This can’t happen yet, of course, but the expectation is that the Patriots waive Gordon in the coming weeks. The talented receiver is hurt now but, per reports, should be healthy enough to play soon.

In order for the Eagles to win Gordon on waivers, everyone ahead of them in the order — they’d come in around 15th-18th as of now — would have to pass on claiming Gordon.

That seems unlikely, but perhaps other teams won’t feel like the risks that come with Gordon, both in health and off-field issues, aren’t worth it.

Gordon would be a massive upgrade over the Eagles’ current collection of wide receivers, even if he’s not the same level of player he once was.  [nj.com]


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