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February 15, 2021

John McMullen: The Eagles have to figure out what to do at quarterback again

Nothing can stress a relationship like Valentine’s Day.

The positive news there is that the Eagles and Carson Wentz are already in the mediation phase of their pending divorce, the time where you bring in a Jeremy Grey or a John Beckwith to hammer out the final details of the settlement.

The issues here aren’t the children or the frequent flyer miles, however. It’s Wentz staying as quiet as possible so that the Eagles and Howie Roseman can maximize a return from the place the former face of the franchise would like to land in: Indianapolis.

The white noise is getting to that point and it will continue until the very moment it doesn’t.

Then comes the far more important question for the Eagles and one many haven’t gotten around to asking — what’s next?

The reason why so many haven’t started scratching their chins and pondering the chessboard is the assumption that the Eagles’ future has been defined as handing the baton to Jalen Hurts. But is that really the plan? And more importantly, should it be the plan?

The best predictor of the future is often history.

And if the past is prologue rewind back to 2016 and listen to Roseman’s words after moving up twice from No. 13 to No. 2 to get Wentz.

"It was hard to envision that scenario at 13. That we would be able to get this high because of the resources that we had at our disposal," the now-embattled Eagles GM explained after securing Wentz. "So our first goal was kind of in steps.

“Our first goal was to try to get into the top 10 because we did think there was a difference between being 13, for us, and in the top 10. Once we got into the top 10 and had some time to evaluate what was there at the top 10, and then go back on our research and look at the uniqueness of this moment, we felt that we had to take advantage of it."

The Eagles are in the top 10 again, admittedly far too soon for the organization’s comfort. The fallout to that has been swift and unforgiving with the only Super Bowl-winning coach in franchise history being sacrificed for a novice and Wentz himself almost surely next, about to be shipped out for pennies on the dollar, an almost inconceivable notion when the sixth-year QB exploded into an MVP-caliber player during the 2017 season.

Even after serious knee and back injuries, Wentz had seemingly settled into a signal caller on the cusp of top 10 in the league, maybe a little better than that in years when the supporting cast was there and a little less when it wasn’t. The four-year, $128 million extension came in June of 2019, and Roseman was lauded by most for acting early in a market that only climbs.

The bottom fell out in the 2020 season when the veteran QB inexplicably turned from legitimate star into potentially the largest salary-dump in league history just to get him out of the NovaCare Complex as Roseman tries to pry the 21st pick from the shrewd Chris Ballard.

Those are the massive trees the public is lost in, unable to see the forest.

"It's rare for us to be in the top 10 in the draft but that was our number one goal in the offseason," Roseman said back in 2016. "We knew when we got there there were going to be some unique opportunities and we had to take advantage of them."

The same “unique opportunities” are present in 2021 and the due diligence at the QB position began last Friday in Clemson, S.C.

The Eagles were among 17 teams in town to take a look at Trevor Lawrence, a player some regard as the best quarterback prospect since John Elway, and almost every personnel evaluator would acknowledge is tops since Andrew Luck.

Clemson's actual Pro Day is March 11 but Lawrence is such a big deal he got his own which was televised by three different networks — The NFL Network, ESPN2, and the ACC Network — to show off in advance of shoulder surgery on his non-throwing side.

Barring incompetence, and you can never rule that out in Jacksonville as evidenced by the shameful Chris Doyle situation, only one team has an opportunity at Lawrence and that's the Jaguars at No. 1 overall.

The Eagles presence is the bigger story locally, however. Yes, you can point out Philadelphia remains a receiver-needy team, and Clemson wideout Cornell Powell, a draftable commodity albeit it later in the process, was one of Lawrence's targets while throwing the football. That’s the multitasking part of the trip but the main goal is to start evaluating these QBs.

There are three other potential top-10 QBs this year — BYU's Zach Wilson, Justin Fields of Ohio State, and Trey Lance, the latest prospect from Wentz's alma mater of North Dakota State.

Lance is the only one likely to be available at No. 6 without maneuvering upward and that would be a tough political hurdle for the Eagles coming off Wentz.

The first thing you learn in personnel, however, is don't scout the helmet.

The Eagles have to trust their evaluations when it comes to making good decisions at No. 6 overall and while some fans will balk, believing Roseman is less accomplished than the guy they like on Twitter who has the $99 of disposable income to get NFL Game Pass, the reality is that the Eagles are stocked with well-regarded personnel people.

It begins with Andy Weidl, the vice president of player personnel. From there you have the conduit between the scouting department and the coaching staff, Jeremiah Washburn, senior football advisor Tom Donohoe, Weidl's right-hand man Ian Cunningham, and senior director of college scouting Anthony Patch to name just a few.

The overriding point here is that the Eagles will have another rare opportunity to solve the game’s most important position this April and just because Wentz went bad far earlier than expected doesn't mean Hurts is a better prospect than any of the top QBs this year.

Previous picks can't stunt forward-thinking and Philadelphia needs to bet back in the quarterback business.

John McMullen is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media, the host of “Extending the Play” on AM1490 in South Jersey and also contributes Eagles and NFL coverage for You can reach him at

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