by Paul Wanecski and Mario Granata
As Chip Kelly loads up on former Oregon Duck players with whom he had previously coached the count as of 10:00pm EST on 3/9/15 stands that he has acquired 9 former players, the quest for 10 is undoubtedly going on behind the scenes. Mark Sanchez is no longer a free agent, and his best fit was to return to the Eagles where he was able to pick up the Chip Kelly offense and performed relatively well. He is not the starter, however. Nick Foles was lost to injury and even upon his return was unable to nudge past Sanchez on the depth chart. After that, former USC quarterback Matt Barkley is buried on the depth chart and has never really seen any action, except for his 4 interceptions, 1 fumble and 0 touchdown performance in 2013.
So what to do when you have one quarterback who hasn't thrown a touchdown, another quarterback who is most likely the product of an offensive system, and a third who isn’t the long term answer? You call the Cleveland Browns.
Cleveland is sitting pretty with two first-round selections in this year’s NFL Draft. If you think they are comfortable going into the season with Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel and Connor Shaw on the roster, then you don’t know Cleveland. McCown’s deal basically promises that he won’t be cut this season, as the first year is basically fully guaranteed. Manziel is a wildcard and Connor Shaw performed admirably in his only career start. The Browns have been begging for a franchise quarterback but they will not find one in this draft; they are, however, foolish enough to believe that Nick Foles is one.
The Eagles would be able to swap Foles to Cleveland for the 19th overall selection that would have been owned by the Buffalo Bills. Foles’ contract is amazingly affordable and it would allow the Browns to be able to audition him prior to discussing an extension. So what does this do for the Eagles?
The Eagles then call the Titans, who have so many needs they would benefit significantly more from holding the 19th and 20th selections (as they would also hold an affordable 5th year option) than holding the 2nd overall pick. I am sure that the Eagles will include a 3rd this year and a conditional 3rd selection next year to complete the trade, sliding up to the 2nd selection to bring Marcus Mariota to Philadelphia.
Now, do the Eagles HAVE to trade with the Titans? The short answer is no, however, they are the most needy team. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will hold solid for the first pick, the Jacksonville Jaguars will be able to select the best position or skill player on the board and would not benefit from moving down, the Oakland Raiders much the same. There is an outside chance that the Washington Redskins could be a trade partner as they also have several needs that could best be handled later in the first round, but seeing how the RGIII saga is playing out, they might be a little “gun shy” about a first round trade, not even considering they would be doing the tango with a division rival.
The goal is to jump the New York Jets. While rumors are circulating that the Jets may have a trade in place with the Eagles, they are just too in need of a quarterback to take over the starting role. If you think the Jets would pass up a quarterback at the 6th selection, then you don’t know the Jets. True, they have an exceptional number of needs. They also will be able to address nearly all of those in free agency, like they usually do.
Lets not forget that recent history has shown that when certain offenses are implemented into the NFL, they are so dissected that they usually are figured out the next offseason. Nick Foles came out of the gates posing a 27-2 touchdown-interception ratio, but anyone who has seen him play at Arizona know that is not the real Nick Foles. He came down to earth last year with a 13-10 TD-Int ratio prior to his injury. Chip Kelly’s ego might be big enough to think that his offense is revolutionary and what better way to have it showcased than to use the quarterback that made it in college? If it doesn’t work, no big deal for the 31 other teams in the league. If it does work, God help us.
Just remember when you see the following:
First you’ll see:
QB Nick Foles
4th-round pick (via Buffalo)
And then you’ll see:
2016 3rd-round pick
And you eventually hear Roger Goodell say,”And with the 2nd pick in the 2015 Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles Select, Marcus Mariota, Quarterback, Oregon,” don’t act surprised because of where you heard it first.