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May 11, 2021

Eagles, Howie Roseman have created maximum optionality at quarterback

Eagles NFL

A few weeks ago, Howie Roseman spoke to the media for the first time since trading Carson Wentz, and discussed, among other things, his other big offseason decision — trading back from the 6th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to the 12th.

When justifying the move, he explained that he wanted to give the Eagles optionality, and that "flexibility creates opportunity" — meaning he would have the ability to make a variety of different decisions depending on how the chips fell during the important draft weekend.

In the immediate aftermath, the trade got mixed reviews but his point wound up proving to be true. The Birds were able to bank an extra first-round pick in 2022 (which they got in the trade back to 12) while also being able to move up two slots to get one of the guys they wanted back at pick No. 6, wideout DeVonta Smith. 

But maybe that wasn't actually the full breadth of flexibility creating opportunity, of which Roseman spoke. 

Perhaps he meant it in a more longterm and meta context. Perhaps he meant it about the most important position in all of sports: quarterback.

The starting gig in 2021 is Jalen Hurts' to lose — and the Eagles' second-round pick from a year ago has tools to succeed, from a healthy and invigorated offensive line to Smith anchoring an improved and hungry receiving attack, to a bevy of multi-faceted running backs. 

The Eagles will learn what they have in Hurts. And then, in 2022, they'll have options. In fact, they'll pretty much have every option.

Hurts proves he's the man

This is probably the ideal scenario, but no one can really say for sure if this is a likely one. Hurts showed flashes in 2020 when he took the reins from Wentz, and showed he is a playmaker who can run an NFL offense.

He also was playing with a group of atrocious and inexperienced receivers and behind a beat-up makeshift offensive line. It's hard to really assess his performance from last year properly.

His accuracy and decision-making at times left some to be desired, but he was, after all, a rookie running an offense that was performing at a suboptimal rate and that was designed for someone else to run. Hurts will have a much better chance to succeed in 2021. The problem is, the defense is probably going to be horrible, Nick Sirianni's coaching staff is brand spanking new, and the win-loss record could force the Eagles' hand, even in a weak division like the NFC East. For what it's worth, the Eagles have odds of +550 to win the division led by Hurts this year, according to Pickswise.

But, if they finish in last place again the Eagles could fall into another top 10 pick, and they may have no choice but to...

Draft a franchise QB

There isn't a Trevor Lawrence-type prospect emerging yet, but the Eagles, with what could be three first-round draft picks and eight in the first five rounds (including two picks that could be pretty high in the Birds' own pick and Miami's pick), Philadelphia could be in the drivers seat to move up and take any QB it wants in the 2022 draft.

For what it's worth, here's what NFL insider Peter King thinks about their draft capital"Clearly, the Eagles will be the power-brokers next spring. I’d bet a cheesesteak GM Howie Roseman isn’t finished trading in the first round."

What kind of cheesesteak?

It does make sense though. UNC's Sam Howell will be on the radar, as could be Oklahoma's Spender Rattler, Georgia's JT Daniels and a bevy of others. It's rare to be in the driver's seat like this, with so much draft ammo, and Roseman will no doubt give himself every opportunity to fall in love with a quarterback prospect to try and revive his storied factory.

RELATED: WTS: Trade up for Smith may have cost Eagles a first-round pick — and hurt their chances of landing Rodgers, Wilson or Watson

Trade for an aging superstar

However, that's not the only thing an excess of draft capital can be used for. 

Aaron Rodgers is disgruntled. So is Russell Wilson. Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo could be had for a reasonable price. Are the Eagles interested? Should they be?

It's hard to avoid seeing the Eagles mentioned in connection to the big-name QBs, but it really seems like a stretch to think that mortgaging the future to bring one of them in with a team (and particularly a defense) that is not yet prepared to compete for a playoff spot would not be a gigantic waste of resources. 

But there is one other big name veteran out there who is younger and could be the missing piece to the puzzle...

Take a chance on Watson

The Eagles have been mentioned time and time again in connection with Deshaun Watson, who started this offseason wanting out of Houston, but may find himself out of the NFL if his legal problems don't find a resolution soon. After numerous allegations of sexual assault — nearly two dozen of them, in fact — Watson's future is greatly in question and yet the rumors continue to swirl. Here's the latest of these, from Peter King at NBC's Pro Football Talk:

I think predicting the future of Deshaun Watson is fraught with, well, it’s impossible. I just think by a year from today he’ll have a new home. This is a gut feeling. It’s impossible to predict the future with so many legal issues involved. And depending on the outcome of the cases, several teams might not want to even think about Watson, and rightfully so. If he’s free to play football unencumbered by legal issues in 2022, here are my odds on Watson’s next football team, with a tie at the top:

3-1: Philadelphia. A likely need, plus Eagles are in perfect position to deal with three first-round picks (if Carson Wentz plays three-quarters of the Indy season). 

3-1: Carolina. Owner David Tepper would find the resources to do a deal.  [Pro Football Talk]

That's quite an endorsement of the Eagles for Watson, at 3-1 odds. It's also extremely far in the future and there are so many different variables, ranging from everything we discussed above to all the possible outcomes from Watson and his issues, and if he even gets out of Houston, there is no way to reasonably project or predict what is going to be doable from a football perspective.

It's certainly possible, though, and Eagles fans should start preparing themselves for almost any option, as Philly looks to find its next QB1. Jalen Hurts? A star veteran? A top draft pick? It seems like it's all on the table for Roseman and the Eagles.

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