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October 26, 2018

Mailbag: Should the Eagles be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline?

In our weekly Eagles chat this week, there were a lot of questions that we could not get to in time or other questions we did answer but could use more color. And so, let's do a mailbag post to answer some of the overflow.

Question from LostInChiTown: In the past, there was an untapped advantage to be had trading for players. Howie tapped into a market that valued late picks highly where there were few other buyers and he was able to make some good deals. He had late picks and little competition from other GMs. Now it seems like every GM is trying to be like Howie and improve via trade. Do you think this has flipped the value? Are there now too many buyers and not enough players available? If so, do you see Howie selling because of the value? Does he trade Brandon Graham, for example?

I think there's some wisdom in your idea that it has perhaps gone from a buyer's market to a seller's market. You have to look no further than some of the deals that have already been made. The Raiders got a 1 for Amari Cooper. The Giants got a 4 and a 7 for Eli Apple. The Browns got a 5 for Carlos Hyde. All three of those deals were clearly won by the sellers, in my opinion.

As far as the Eagles becoming sellers, I don't see that even if the value is there. The Eagles are a prideful, veteran team coming off a Super Bowl win. Trading a player like Graham, for example, would (rightfully) be viewed by players as the team waving the white flag on the season. On paper, doing something like that makes some sense, but if you quit on the season, I imagine it'd be pretty hard to look a guy like Jason Peters in the eye, when he's playing through a torn bicep (and even if he weren't). 

Adding an extra draft pick probably isn't worth risking losing the locker room. I think they'll ether be buyers, or they'll do nothing.

Question from Gritty for safety: Why is nobody talking about the linebackers? No turnovers, no splash plays, fairly invisible.

Yep, that’s a fair question. The linebackers have been solid, but certainly unspectacular. Obviously, the corners have taken the brunt of the criticism for their play this year. When they get beaten, it’s out there for the world to see. When the linebackers make mistakes, it’s less obvious. 

In my view, the linebacker spot is a production position, in that it is expected that the linebackers should make plays. The one splash play that I can recall was a Jordan Hicks pass breakup that was picked by Kamu Grugier-Hill against the Giants. But clearly, Hicks’ and Nigel Bradham’s stats leave a lot to be desired:

 PlayerTackles (TFL) INT FF-FR Sacks 
 Jordan Hicks57 (4) 0-1 1.5 
 Nigel Bradham34 (2) 0-1 

No interceptions and no forced fumbles from your two starting linebackers is not ideal, obviously.

Comment from Ben: It pains me to say it, but I can’t imagine Big V playing much worse than Peters is. 

There have been a few times this season where I've re-watched games and thought, "Oof, I've never seen anyone do that to JP before." He's definitely not the same dominant player he once was, and for good reason. He's 36, he's coming off a torn ACL, he has a bad quad, and a torn bicep. 

I'm no doctor, but I personally feel that the team would be best served to hold Peters out and let him heal up. As you noted, there really isn't much of a difference between him and Big V at the moment, so sit Peters down and hope he can be a better player later in the season playing through less pain.

Question from Timm: How was everyone so wrong on this roster? Going into the year everyone was writing how they had the deepest roster in the league. After a few injuries, they have big holes and are old.

As someone who writes up a detailed injury report every Friday, the Eagles have WAAAAAY more injuries than other teams around the league.

• Notable players on IR/PUP/NFI: Derek Barnett, Rodney McLeod, Jay Ajayi, Timmy Jernigan, Mike Wallace, Mack Hollins, Chris Maragos, Richard Rodgers. That's five starters, and three other contributors.

• Other notable players who have missed multiple games (or will miss multiple games) due to injury: Carson Wentz, Alshon Jeffery, Sidney Jones, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement, Haloti Ngata, Corey Graham.

Add in that Peters and Lane Johnson are playing through nagging injuries, and you have one of the most banged up teams in the NFL, if not THE most.

So there's your depth problem.

Question from MRNFL: The corner that intrigues me and shouldn’t cost more than a fourth-round pick is Gareon Conley of the Raiders. What are your thoughts on him? To me, I think he could be the Eagles' future slot CB. He’s had a tough go with the Raiders but the kid has talent. He’s also under control until 2021. He had a nice college career and played slot successfully in college.

I can’t speak for his career with the Raiders. I have no idea how good or bad he’s been, and I have no idea what the Eagles would have to give up to get him. But I do know that they really liked him coming out of OSU. Had Conley not had the accusations levied against him that he did, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Eagles would have taken him instead of Derek Barnett, that is if he would have even been available at 14.

Comment from Jeff: We are now seeing the downside of trading for Carson. He is great, but the Eagles lost a lot of draft capital and we are seeing the results.

To begin, it really doesn't matter what you give up to get a top 5 quarterback. If you get one and can be set for the next 12-15 years, there's almost no cost that's too high.

But OK, let's just explore what would have happened if they hadn't made that trade. First, here's what the Eagles gave up: 

Browns get Eagles get 
 2016 1st round pick (8th overall)2016 1st round pick (2nd overall - Wentz) 
2016 3rd round pick (77th overall) 2017 4th round pick 
2016 4th round pick (100th overall)  
 2017 1st round pick 
 2018 2nd round pick 

If they don't make that deal, their quarterback is Sam Bradford, who they wouldn't have traded to the Vikings, and thus wouldn't have the first- and fourth-round picks that they got in return for him. Just for fun, lets' add Bradford and those two picks to the above equation:

Browns/Vikings get Eagles get 
 2016 1st round pick (8th overall)2016 1st round pick (2nd overall - Wentz) 
2016 3rd round pick (77th overall) 2017 1st round pick 
2016 4th round pick (100th overall)  2017 4th round pick
 2017 1st round pick2018 4th round pick 
 2018 2nd round pick 
Sam Bradford  

Now, let's do some cancelling out:

Browns/Vikings get Eagles get 
 2016 1st round pick (8th overall)2016 1st round pick (2nd overall - Wentz) 
2016 3rd round pick 2017 1st round pick 
2016 4th round pick  2017 4th round pick
 2017 1st round pick2018 4th round pick 
 2018 2nd round pick 
Sam Bradford  

In other words, after the Bradford trade, the cost to move from 8 to 2 cost something close to a 2nd round pick, the difference between a 3 and a 4, and Sam Bradford.

Plus, you know, you would have had to watch Bradford for another season, Wentz wouldn't have led the team to an 11-2 record and a first round bye, and the Eagles wouldn't have won the Super Bowl last year.

Tough decision here, but you'd probably still do that trade, right? 

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