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June 12, 2023

Mailbag: What would the 2022 Eagles have looked like if they traded for Russell Wilson?

Jimmy Kempski answers your Eagles questions here.

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061023RussellWilson Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports

Eagles fans owe Russell Wilson a huge debt of gratitude.

Late last week, we solicited questions for an Eagles mailbag via Twitter. Thank you as always for doing half the work for me. Let's just get right to it.

Question from Billy (via email): With the recent revelation that the Eagles tried to trade for Russell Wilson, is it fair to dock Howie some GM points for getting lucky that Russ didn't want to be here? And also, how do you envision the 2022 season if that trade actually happened?

Because I'm petty, I will first note that the Eagles' attempts to trade for Russell Wilson (and Deshaun Watson for that matter) — and their inability to do so because neither quarterback would waive their no-trade clauses to come to Philly — are not revelatory. That has been reportedly locally here for well over a year now. The new reporting is that the Eagles and Seahawks essentially agreed to the terms of a trade, but Wilson killed the deal.

As for how the 2022 season might have gone if the Eagles had traded for Wilson, I think we need to first revisit the deal the Seahawks made with the Broncos:

 Seahawks gotBroncos got 
2022 first-round pick (9th overall) Russell Wilson 
2023 first-round pick (unknown positioning at the time) 2022 fourth-round pick 
2022 second-round pick (40th overall)  
2023 second-round pick (unknown positioning at the time)  
QB Drew Lock  
TE Noah Fant  
DL Shelby Harris  

At the time the trade for Wilson was made, the Eagles held three first-round picks in the 2022 draft — 15th, 16th, and 19th overall. If the Seahawks wanted to trade with the Eagles instead of the Broncos, then logically the Eagles' offer had to have been better, right?

Maybe instead of trading a 2023 first-round pick, the Eagles offered a couple of first-round picks in 2022 (let's say 15th and 16th)? And let's also assume that Jalen Hurts would have been included in the deal, which would have made sense both for the Eagles and Seahawks. This is maybe what that trade would have looked like:

Seahawks get Eagles get 
2022 first-round pick (15th overall) Russell Wilson 
2022 first-round pick (16th overall)  
2022 second-round pick (51st overall)  
2023 second-round pick  
QB Jalen Hurts  

Yikes! What a disaster that would have been. Maybe the Eagles would have still been able to trade for A.J. Brown, but it likely would have meant no Jordan Davis, no Cam Jurgens, no trade with the Saints (and thus no Jalen Carter), no Tyler Steen, and, of course, no Hurts.

Wilson might have been a good quarterback for the Eagles in 2022 playing (a) behind the best offensive line in the NFL, (b) theoretically with a pairing of Brown and DeVonta Smith, and (c) under a far better staff led by Nick Sirianni than the disaster that was Nathaniel Hackett in Denver last season. But it's probably safe to assume that he wouldn't have been anything close to what Hurts was.

The Eagles probably would not have been the 1 seed, and there's a good chance that the NFC would have been represented by Dallas, San Francisco, or (gasp) a Hurts-led Seattle in the Super Bowl. Long-term, the Eagles also perhaps would not have the young trench players in the pipeline that they now do.

So, yes, while Roseman rightfully gets credit for building up arguably the best roster in the NFL, he and the Eagles also benefited from some major luck along the way.

Question from @EoSNick: Howie is usually so good at being aware of the potential availability of players and Dalvin Cook had been widely reported to be a possible cut. Why do you think he jumped to trade for D'Andre Swift rather than wait for Cook’s release?

Swift is 24 (he turns 25 in January), he has 520 career touches, and he's under contract for one year at super low cost of $1,774,399 in 2023. Cook turns 28 in August, he has 1,503 career touches, and his value on the open market is unknown. They're both talented, and they're both injury risks. The opportunity to trade for Swift at a reasonable cost was there, so the Eagles jumped on it, and I think they can feel pretty good about the talent/depth of their running back rotation.

Question from @IamDSPN: What are your thoughts on the running back committee? Gainwell was loud (in my opinion) about expecting a bigger role. Scott was more diplomatic about it but it begs the question, who is going to be on the field and who sits in a reserve role.

Last year, Miles Sanders was the lead back, Scott was his backup, and Gainwell had his own role as the third down / two-minute offense guy. Trey Sermon was typically inactive on gameday.

This year, my best guess is that Swift and Rashaad Penny will copilot the Sanders role (with some Gainwell sprinkled in), Gainwell will remain in his role as the third down / two-minute guy (with maybe some Swift sprinkled in), and with the new kickoff rules rendering return men basically useless, Scott will be the gameday inactive unless one of Swift/Penny/Gainwell are hurt.

Training camp will give us a clearer picture. Maybe Sermon shows something and beats out Scott? Maybe Gainwell can prove that he should get more than just an occasional early down carry? We'll see, but I believe the above structure is the starting point.

Question from @DRTaylor13: Hey Jimmy, I want to know why no one is questioning why we’re all OK with the Eagles elevating Nakobe Dean to a starting linebacker spot without addressing whether he has the size for the position. Clearly a lot of teams did not think so.

I do think Dean's size is of some concern. He's listed at 5'11, 231, which, well, is small.

However, linebackers seem to be shrinking these days, as teams are opting more for quick backers over run-stopping thumpers. On the weight front, there were 18 off-ball linebackers under 231 pounds who started at least eight games last season. I don't think a lack of heft will be a major issue for Dean in terms of getting ball carriers to the ground, as he plays with toughness and good technique. Where his size might become problematic is his lack of arm length as well as a narrow wingspan, which could cause him to miss arm tackles against bigger backs.

His height is obviously the bigger issue. There were only six off-ball linebackers who started at least eight games last season who were 5'11 or shorter. Opposing offenses could look to try to take advantage of Dean if they have big, playmaking tight ends, like Travis Kelce or George Kittle.

Obviously, Dean has something to prove this season, and I think most fans understand that. Personally, I haven't seen the sentiment that the Eagles are definitively set at linebacker.

Question from @StokesTheWriter: Is it possible for Jalen Hurts to have a better year this year than last year? And what would that look like?

Sure! I think there's still some room for improvement on the accuracy front, and quarterbacks in general can always continue to get better at pre-snap reads, decision-making, etc., even when that area of their game is already a strength.

Question from @adamr2879: Why hasn't Kelee Ringo signed his rookie contract yet?

I don't have any info to confirm, but this is probably right: 

I wouldn't sweat it.

Question from @OfficeLinebacker: Which current Eagle player do you think would make the best head coach in the future?

This is a chalk answer, but Jason Kelce is a charismatic leader, he has a deep understanding of offensive scheme, and he understands the importance of analytics. For me, those three things are a good start.

Question from @Jack_Despeaux: Most likely DeAndre Hopkins landing spot?

I think that the conversation caught on camera below is pretty revealing:

Of course, I also view the Patriots as the worst team in the AFC East and pretty clearly in the bottom half of the AFC in general, so it's not really a great fit. 

If you're the Patriots, a declining version of Hopkins doesn't help much long-term, and if you're Hopkins, the Patriots aren't going to win you a ring. But the Patriots have been bad roster builders for a while now, and they're reportedly having in him for a visit, so... 🤷‍♂️.

Question from @Footba11Joe: In the past 3 or 4 drafts, which Eagles draftees were most likely "red star" players?

In case you're unfamiliar what @Footba11Joe is talking about, Howie Roseman said that Sydney Brown was a "red star" player. When asked what that means, Roseman said: 

"That's a guy who kind of exemplifies what it means to be an Eagle, so it's great character, captain, testing numbers, intelligence, plays the way it should be played, practices the way it should be played.

"We sit there the day before the draft, we do that Wednesday, right? We did that Wednesday? We go around the room, and we give every scout a chance to stamp their red star on guys. Goes back, it's a long tradition, not only here but a couple of other places that people have been, and when we're looking at the draft board we have a red star on the guys, and Jeffrey [Lurie] a lot of times will go, ‘Hey, don't forget, and we're deciding between those two guys, that's a red star guy.’

"I think for us, it gives our scouts a chance to really put their name on guys, and that gives them a lot of pride."

Roseman got asked some version of @Footba11Joe's question, and he named DeVonta Smith and Landon Dickerson.

Question from @ClellandGreen: How do the Eagles' top 5 players rank vs. the rest of the league?

I guess that first begs the question, who are the Eagles' top 5 players? I would go with Jalen Hurts, Lane Johnson, Haason Reddick, Jason Kelce, and A.J. Brown.

There were three teams that had six All-Pros in 2022:

  1. Eagles: The five guys noted above, plus James Bradberry.
  2. Chiefs: QB Patrick Mahomes, TE Travis Kelce, DT Chris Jones, OG Joe Thuney, C Creed Humphrey, and P Tommy Townsend.
  3. 49ers: LT Trent Williams, Edge Nick Bosa, LB Fred Warner, S Talanoa Hufanga, TE George Kittle, and ST George Odom.

No other teams had more than three All-Pros in 2022.

I would take the Chiefs' top five over the Eagles' top five on the strength of Mahomes, but that's probably it.

Question from @gusandshawn87: Where does Hurts’ Super Bowl performance rank among all-time Eagles QB playoff performances?

I would rank them like so: 

  1. Nick Foles, Super Bowl LII
  2. Nick Foles, NFC Championship Game vs. the Vikings
  3. Jalen Hurts, Super Bowl LVII

Question from @_TommyWhoa: When are they announcing the Kelly green jerseys?

Well, they already announced them. I'm guessing you mean, when will the team reveal what they look like?

At the NFL owners meetings in March, the thinking was June or July. I don't think anything has changed there.

Some stores have apparently already begun selling Kelly green jerseys. 

We already know that they will look like the 1990's Kelly green jerseys, as Jeffrey Lurie said at the owners meetings a few months ago. The jerseys pictured above are indeed the 1990's version, and I imagine the final revealed version will look very similar.

That said, if you're eager to get your hands on an authentic Kelly green jersey, be advised that the Eagles are not selling these. I would wait for the team reveal before plunking down good money for them.

Question from @KellyGreenCrazy: Why does Tommy Lawlor call you Jimmy Bama?

There was one year at the Senior Bowl we were leaving practice to go back downtown to our hotels, and he thought I turned the wrong way out of the parking lot because I went a different direction than the rest of the crowd. I replied something like, "You just make a right up here at house with the yappy dog on the porch, bang a left at the guy who's always outside with the lawn chair, and boom, you'll be right back on Government Street in a minute." And from that moment on, I was Jimmy Bama.

Question @ChipReiderson: Hey Tio Jimmy. What’s been the most surprisingly great meal of your offseason so far? And have you ever had CinnaGraham Toast Crunch? If not, highly recommend.

Yes, you happened to ask this question right before a trip to Shop Rite, so I was on the lookout, as I would have Golden Grahams and Cinnamon Toast Crunch both firmly in my top 5 of all-time great cereals.


They were good, but I would probably just prefer Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Golden Grahams on their own.

As for your other question, I recently ordered Outback via DoorDash, and immediately regretted it after placing the order. I couldn't believe that I had ordered from a chain restaurant when there are so many other local options. To my surprise, it was absolutely delicious. Ribs falling off the bone, bunch of free sides (like their bread, etc.). I was kind of blown away by how good it was. 

On a side note, @ChipReiderson saw me at a breakfast place in Denver in 2021 when the Eagles played the Broncos, and he did not say hi because he did not want to bother me. If any of you see me out in the wild, please say hello. Unless you're a dick. Then just leave me alone, please.

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