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September 28, 2018

Mailbag: Should the Eagles trade for Seahawks S Earl Thomas?

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, we did a mailbag post yesterday to answer some of the overflow. We'll do another one today.

Question from Saudi Moose: So are the Eagles in play for Earl Thomas?

Yesterday we answered the question of whether or not the Eagles should trade for Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell. That was a resounding "no." A trade for Thomas is highly unlikely as well, but it makes a lot more sense than Bell. 

With Rodney McLeod reportedly done for the season after tearing his MCL, the Eagles will have to adjust. Corey Graham is a good backup at safety who can step in a start capably. However, Graham already plays quite a bit in sub-packages, so the Eagles will have to figure out how they will adjust. It's probably too late to begin training Jalen Mills at safety, but maybe he's a long-term answer there? Does Deiondre Hall take on a bigger role? Does that mean more Avonte Maddox in a dime LB role? Does Jim Schwartz just do away with his three-safety looks?

Thomas would eliminate the need to move pieces around, as he would instantly be an outstanding fit (and upgrade, obviously) playing McLeod's centerfield role, which would allow Malcolm Jenkins to continue to play his "everywhere" role in the Eagles' defense. It would also allow Graham to remain in his role as the third safety.

McLeod was likely to be a cap casualty after this season anyway, Graham almost retired this season. As such, the Eagles need a multiple-year solution at the safety position opposite Jenkins, unless they're banking on moving Mills. If you think Thomas can play at a high level a couple more seasons and you can work out a trade-and-extend, I don't think it's that crazy, but it's still unlikely.

As always, what's the coast? You have to look at that in two different ways:

  1. What is the trade compensation cost?
  2. What is he going to cost, contract-wise?

It was reported that the Seahawks have already turned down a second-round pick offer from the Cowboys. That is already a steep price, frankly, for a safety with nine seasons of wear and tear on his body. A 2 feels like a fair price, and one that I personally would not exceed. He's almost certainly leaving Seattle one way or the other, so it's not as if the Seahawks, a team that is not realistically going to compete for a Super Bowl this season, have much leverage. If some other team ponies up more than a 2 (or a likely higher 2), then God bless.

And then there's the matter of a new contract. Thomas is on the final year of his deal, so the Eagles (or anyone else) really shouldn't be trading a valuable draft asset like a second-round pick for a half-year rental. The only way it would make sense to make that trade would be to do so with a new deal. (A new contract would also be essential, seeing as Thomas’ 2018 cap charge is around $10 million, and the Eagles only have $4 million under the cap. In other words, the first year of a new deal would have to have a low cap number.)

During the 2017 offseason, Eric Berry, a player who entered the league the same year as Thomas, signed a six-year, $78 million deal with the Chiefs.

A Berry-Thomas statistical comparison:

 PlayerTackles (TFL) Sacks INT FF-FR 
 Earl Thomas680 28 11-5 
 Eric Berry437 5.5 14 4-2 

You think Thomas is taking less than Berry?

Anyway, these types of trades are extraordinarily difficult to pull off. While Thomas would be a good fit, the combined cost of draft pick compensation and a contract extension is high. I wouldn't hold your breath.

Question from TW: Do you feel that all these roughing the passer calls actually benefit the Eagles because Wentz is a big, strong quarterback, so if defensive players are afraid to hit the quarterback, that will play right into Wentz’s ability to escape?

I hadn’t thought of it that way, but sure, I can maybe see when Wentz might escape from a timid pass rusher when he otherwise might not.

I do think the Eagles are beneficiaries of the roughing calls in a bigger way for a much more simple reason, however. Wentz is a quarterback who (A) is worth protecting, and (B) just had a torn ACL/LCL. The Eagles hope he can be the face of the franchise for the next 12-15 years. They benefit from this rule more than most teams.

Question from Office Linebacker: Is it me, or has BG been invisible this year so far? Is he still recovering? Long and Cox have been playing lights out.

He had a few really nice plays against the run Week 1 against the Falcons, though I do agree that he has not been a force as a pass rusher like he’s been the last couple years. I think there’s perhaps some logic in thinking that he’s still working himself back into “football shape.” He’s a player I’m confident will be fine.

Question from JPP’s index finger: Do they just wait for Mack Hollins or make a move for a speedy wide receiver?

You mean, do they wait for Mike Wallace? I think Wallace will be back, and I’m interested in seeing what he can do with Wentz. I thought he got open down the field a few times when Foles was the quarterback, but Foles couldn’t give him a chance to make a play.

Question from Rowie Hoseman: Who is going to the Super Bowl from the NFC?

Before the season, I said the Falcons. If I had a chance at a mulligan, the Rams are the obvious choice at the moment.

Question from Ric Flair: When are we going to see some Eagles touchdown celebrations?

You know, I hadn’t even thought about that. They weren’t going to celebrate any of their TDs against Tampa because they were getting their asses kicked. In Week 1, that was such a close game that it probably wasn’t celebration-worthy. And then in Week 3, maybe they could have celebrated their opening drive TD? That’s really their only celebration opportunity of the season so far, because they sure as hell shouldn’t have celebrated the go-ahead TD with the Colts getting the ball back with a chance to score.

I don’t think they’ve lost their mojo. They just have to score more. Maybe this week.

Question from jabostick: Do you have a coach that you prefer to interview on staff? Favorite player to interview?

My favorite assistant coach to interview is probably Jeff Stoutland. Favorite current player is Brandon Graham.

Question from bdbd20: Off topic, do you think we’ll see computer ball-strike calls in our lifetime?

I don’t watch much baseball these days, but I used to love it. One of the things that would irk the hell out of me was that each umpire had “their own strike zone” that the players were forced to adjust to. It always blew my mind that commentators, fans, etc., just accepted that as a reality of the game. I’m not sure if that nonsense is still going on (I would guess it is), but my preference would be for more consistency, and computerized balls and strikes would achieve that.

Question from Joe: I had heard before that the reason the Eagles don't wear kelly green as an alternate color is that there is some rule or regulation against having two sets of helmets for safety reasons. But watching the Rams tonight, I see that they are wearing two different helmets this year (one helmet that is blue and white and another one that is blue and yellow).  What gives?

The helmet remains blue. They change the decals only.

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