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April 24, 2019

Mailbag: Should the Eagles trade for a linebacker, and if so, who?

Eagles NFL

In our 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 Jerry: Would it be worth Howie offering a 4th or 5th to the Jets for LB Darron Lee?

I’ve seen Lee’s name thrown around in trade speculation, and I think he makes a lot of sense in Philly. To begin, the Eagles don’t yet know who their middle linebacker will be in 2019. It's probably the only position on the roster where there's no definitive starter.

While not a traditional MIKE linebacker (maybe Nigel Bradham assumes that role, like he has the last two years after Jordan Hicks has gone down?), Lee fits in the Eagles defense. He is known for his coverage ability, which is what Jim Schwartz values in linebackers. In fact, Lee was a CB in high school, and he ran a 4.47 at the Combine.

Lee is still only 24, and he is in the final year of his deal. He would only cost $1,843,860 in cap space in 2019 for any team trading for him. Because he was a first round pick in 2016, he is eligible for his team to exercise his fifth-year option in 2020, which would cost $9,897,120, though the deadline to do so is May 2.

So why would the Jets trade him? Well, they just signed C.J. Mosley in free agency to a five-year, $85 million deal. In 2020, Mosley will cost $17.5 million against the cap. It would be extraordinarily difficult for the Jets to keep Lee on their books at a hair under $10 million, so if they can get something in return for him now, they should absolutely do so, especially considering they're not realistically going to be contenders in 2019.

Question from Phillyaws: Any chance Jeffery Simmons is healthy for late October/November games if the Eagles draft him?

I think the most realistic time-frame would be closer to January, and even then, he’d be a rookie with no OTAs, no minicamps, no training camp, no preseason, no nothing, and he won’t be in “football shape.” In 2017, the Eagles got Sidney Jones on the field for the Eagles’ meaningless Week 17 game against Dallas after they had already wrapped up home-field advantage, and he actually played pretty well. And yet, that was the end of his season.

If you’re the Eagles and you’re considering drafting Simmons, I think you have to make that decision assuming that he’s not going to play at all, and if he does, view it as an unforeseen bonus.

Question from SnailWhale: If next year’s draft is strong, the Eagles should try to trade for another team’s first-round pick next year. With the quarterbacks that are going to be selected next year, talented positional players should fall.

The Eagles traded out of the first round last year, adding a second-round pick in this draft, partly because they felt that the 2019 draft would be strong. Their minds probably haven't changed on that. I think it’s less likely that they trade for picks next year, especially considering they currently own seven picks in 2020, and should be awarded two or three extra compensatory picks. (Also, there are a couple of good QB prospects in Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Bama’s Tua Tagovailoa, but at this point it doesn’t appear as though a huge number of quarterbacks will push other prospects down in the draft order.)

MORE: Eagles-only mock draft, final version | Eagles 2019 NFL Draft board

Question from Vinny: Which analyst do you enjoy watching the most during the draft? I’m going to miss Mike Mayock this year.

On NFLN, Daniel Jeremiah will be good filling in for him, and Charles Davis is OK. I thought Jeremiah did a really nice job at the NFL Combine. I also think ESPN was smart to add Kirk Herbstreit this year, who I respect as an analyst who does his homework. I’m not sure why NFLN continues to include Deion Sanders, who doesn’t know jack about the prospects and only seems interested in talking about himself.

Question from Duke Brothers: Any truth to the rumor that Howie and Joe strut into the draft room like Louis Winthorpe III and Billy Ray Valentine strut into the stock exchange when they have inside information on orange juice futures?

Howie: “Think big, think positive. Never show any sign of weakness. Always go for the throat. Buy low, sell high. Fear, that's the other guy's problem. Nothing can prepare you for the unbridled carnage you are about to witness. The Super Bowl, the World Series. Pressure? Here it's kill or be killed. Make no friends and take no prisoners. One minute you're up half a million, the next, boom. Your kids don't go to college and you've lost your Bentley.”

Joe: "We've got to kill the mother*******... We've got to kill them!"

Comment from LostInChiTown: As great as Brad Rutter is, 74 consecutive wins is unprecedented. Ken Jennings all the way. (Also, it makes me strangely proud that one of my favorite Eagles beats is also a Jeopardy! enthusiast.)

When Rutter first appeared on the show, Jeopardy! maxed out the number of times you could win, at five. They then gave you a car and you went on your way. Had the rules been different, there’s zero doubt that Rutter would have gone on a long-ass run of his own. He just never had the opportunity.

Despite being maxed out at five wins in his initial appearances, Rutter still is the all-time winningest Jeopardy! contestant, money-wise, ever. Why? Because he has won in every Tournament of Champions (or the like, save for a dumb exhibition against a computer) in which he has appeared (five, I believe), spanking Jennings head-to-head in three of them.

He has never lost to a human opponent. Ever. We'll see if current phenom James Holzhauer can challenge Rutter for GOAT status, but respectfully, there’s really no debate between Rutter and Jennings. Rutter owns his soul. (On a side note, he’s an Eagles fan.)

MORE: McNabb stands by Carson Wentz comments | Recap: Eagles chat with Jimmy Kempski

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