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March 10, 2019

Mailbag: Which players could be trade-up options for the Eagles in the 2019 NFL Draft?

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031019EdOliver Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports

Ed Oliver should be disruptive in the NFL, despite his lack of ideal size.

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, we did a mailbag on Friday to answer some of the overflow. Here's another one.

Question from EFNJ: Other than different defensive guys moving up and the annual QB love affair, how do you explain Ed Oliver going from a potential top pick during the season to someone who could drop into the teens?

Size.

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For a DT, Oliver is short and light, with short arms and small hands. He has to make up for that with athleticism, and he does. 

Size is why Aaron Donald fell to 13 in the 2014 NFL Draft, and how Geno Atkins somehow fell to the fourth round in 2010. I do think the NFL learned its lesson on that, and isn’t worrying as much about their interior defensive linemen being 6’4, 330. Can they be disruptive? That’s what matters.

For example, undersized DT Sheldon Rankins went No. 12 overall in 2016, and he hasn’t disappointed. Personally, I don’t think Oliver will slip into the late teens, but if he does, I think the Eagles should strongly consider trading up to get him.

Question from Rob: Who are some players in the draft you think the Eagles might try to trade up for?

As mentioned above, I think Oliver is a highly talented player at a position of need. And then I think that if guys like Clemson DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson DE Clelin Ferrell, or even Oklahoma blazing WR Marquise Brown were to fall, they would all be players who could turn the Eagles into aggressors in this draft.

Question from nceagles: How much cap space do the Eagles need in order to sign all of their projected draft picks?

Every draft slot has a predetermined salary structure, however, “projected draft picks" is the key phrase in your question, since the Eagles will almost certainly make trades (as they always do) on draft weekend. But as is, if the Eagles just stood pat and made their eight picks, their rookie draft picks will cost about $7 million toward the cap.

Question from Bock: What’s your gut feeling about what happens to Agholor this offseason? Trade, cut, extension, or playing this season on his fifth year option?

I’m beginning feel more and more like they trade him. I would rank the order of likelihood like this:

  1. Trade
  2. Extension (or some sort of re-worked contract)
  3. Plays on his fifth year option
  4. Cut

Previously, I didn't think there was any way they would cut Agholor, and while I still believe that would be a bad idea, it's not totally out of the realm of possibility.

Question from Tow Mater: Who is most likely to be the Eagles' third safety? Tre Sullivan, a rookie, or a cheap veteran?

Well, to begin, with hindsight being 20-20, the Eagles made a mistake in bringing back Rodney McLeod at $8 million. When they originally restructured his deal, most (self included) thought they were doing the right thing. As it turned out, an absurd number of safeties have since flooded the open market, and the Eagles could have capitalized by potentially finding a "good enough" player for not a lot of money.

With McLeod and Jenkins taking up a nice chunk of cap space, I don’t see them adding another pricey safety to the mix, and I can’t see any safety worth getting being interested in signing with the Eagles, seeing as he would likely only be the No. 3 guy, at least in 2019.

I think it’s likely that the Eagles take a safety at some point in the draft. If the draft comes and goes, and they still haven’t added one, they’ll have to find a veteran. One player I think would make sense if it gets to that point is Glover Quin, who the Lions released earlier this offseason.

As for Sullivan, while he got some valuable playing experience last season, I would not rely on him as my third safety yet. I’d be happy with the way he progressed, but I’d still be looking to add someone.

Question from ATG: Any thoughts on Darius Philon, DT, Chargers, as a free agent target? Age: 25, young, ascending player at a premium position where the Eagles have a need?

He has 8.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss over the last two years, which is decent. I do think he’ll get some nice attention (and subsequently paid) on the open market, for the reasons you mentioned. But yes, I can see that. The Eagles are paper thin at defensive tackle. They currently have Fletcher Cox, Treyvon Hester, and Bruce Hector. That’s it.

Cox is obviously a star, and I think that if the Eagles continue to play him anywhere near the percentage of snaps he played a season ago, they run the risk of wearing him out. As such, it would be smart of them to add multiple defensive tackles this offseason, with one in free agency, and one in the draft. Philon is starter who could allow the Eagles to ease a rookie into action.

Question from milroyigglesfan: Hey Jimmy, I know you like to keep tabs on the rest of the NFC East. Of the three other teams, which is the biggest threat to win the NFC East in 2019?

Dallas. Washington doesn’t have a quarterback, and, well, neither do the Giants (and the Giants just got rid of their three best defenders). While they certainly have flaws of their own, the Cowboys clearly have the most talent among the Eagles’ three division rivals.

Question from Hombre: Random pet peeve: People thinking players are being “good guys” or “team players” for taking a restructure. They’re getting more money up front and their contract makes them harder to release. It’s completely in their best interests to have their contract restructured. Why don’t people understand this?

What the team is doing in those situations is taking part of a player’s salary and converting it into a signing bonus. They can then spread the signing bonus into future years of the contract. The player then gets that signing bonus immediately, as opposed to it being paid over the course of the season. Another side result, as you noted, is that the player can be more difficult to get rid of in future years, because the signing bonus that was spread over the back end of the contract would hit their cap in the form of dead money.

As a result, teams only do these types of restructures with players they think will be good players for a long time. That’s why you see them doing that with guys like Lane Johnson, Fletcher Cox, and Zach Ertz.

But you are correct that it is 100 percent a no-brainer for players to agree to them. It would be stupid not to.

That said, I don’t blame the fans for wrongly thinking the players are putting the team ahead of themselves. National reporters often shamelessly report it that way, in an ass-kissing sort of way, and the players themselves often act like getting a gigantic check upfront instead of receiving it over the course of the season is some sort of sacrifice.

Question from Hinkie: Is chili a soup?

Nah. You can put chili on things, like a hot dog, for example. It’s more versatile.


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