Eagles Wake-Up Call: What About Other QB Options?


NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Washington Redskins

Today’s question comes from reader Jonathan, via e-mail.

Many are still focused on what it would take to trade up for Marcus Mariota, but aren’t there other trade options that are more realistic and could work out better? With the recent reports about issues between Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick and their respective teams, isn’t there a scenario where you could get one of them for considerably less than what it would take to get Mariota?

It’s an interesting question, Jonathan, and my first reaction is: Are those two guys going to even be available?

Let’s start with Griffin. Jay Gruden has offered pretty much no indication that he’s a fan of the 24-year-old signal-caller. Griffin ended up completing 68.7 percent of his passes and averaged 7.9 YPA last season. He threw four touchdowns against six interceptions.

The issue in D.C. is that whether or not to keep Griffin likely won’t be Gruden’s call. Washington brought in new GM Scot McCloughan, and we know owner Daniel Snyder is always involved. It’s tough for me to see a scenario where Snyder green-lights a Griffin trade to another NFC East team when the alternatives are Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy.

Hypothetically speaking, Griffin’s skill set would be intriguing in the Eagles’ offense, but many who studied Griffin closely last year believed he was broken mechanically as a passer. We’ve now seen basically two coaching staffs turn their back on him. Getting out of Washington would benefit Griffin at this point, and I’d take a look if I were the Eagles, but there are definitely question marks.

Kaepernick, meanwhile, is an even bigger longshot. Remember, the 49ers’ backup is Blaine Gabbert. Are they really going to part ways with Jim Harbaugh and Kaepernick in the same offseason? Highly doubtful. All indications out of San Francisco are that Kaepernick will be the starter going into 2015.

Again, hypothetically, I’d say his skill set is more intriguing than Griffin’s. Kaepernick has not been a polished passer, but he and LeSean McCoy in the same backfield under Chip Kelly would create one of the most explosive run games in the NFL.

I think the initial question speaks to a larger philosophical conversation as it pertains to the QB position. The Eagles should be exploring any and all avenues to acquire QB talent. If you have Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady, it’s simple. You know who your starter is going to be every year; you add a capable backup; and you develop a third quarterback if warranted.

But the Eagles don’t have Rodgers or Brady.

Think about the Seahawks a few years ago. We all know about how they drafted Russell Wilson in the third round of the 2012 draft. But how many remember that they also signed Matt Flynn that offseason to a contract that included $10 million in guaranteed money? Two years earlier under Pete Carroll, the Seahawks gave up draft picks for Charlie Whitehurst.

The point is they tried all avenues: trade, free agency, the draft. They failed multiple times before hitting. And that’s the approach the Eagles need to take. They can see if Nick Foles is able to capture that 2013 magic, but they should also have a plan in place in the even that he resembles the 2014 version.

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WHAT YOU MISSED

The offseason outlook at defensive line: On Fletcher Cox’s contract, Taylor Hart’s future and more.

“The criticism will not only be levied at Marcus Smith, but it will come down on Chip Kelly for wasting a first-round pick…” What they’re saying about the Eagles.

T-Mac offers thoughts on the evolution of Billy Davis’ defense.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz isn’t as down on Smith as others:

Marcus is a talented prospect. People obsessed on whether he should have been a 1st rounder, but even if the Eagles passed on him, Smith wasn’t going to last much longer. Daniel Jeremiah reported 2 weeks before the draft that he was hearing Smith and other pass rushers could go earlier than some expected. QBs go quickly in the draft. So do pass rushers.

Smith is a gifted athlete. He needs to get bigger and stronger. He also needs to develop his pass rushing skills. So far this offseason, Smith is doing both. A year ago he was doing Combine training. This time around he is developing his body and his game for a specific role with a specific team. That kind of focus can make a big difference.

Geoff Mosher of CSN Philly offers his thoughts on Brandon Graham’s future:

Graham, who broke out this past season as a reserve, is a classic case of someone whose value will be “discovered” next week in Indianapolis. He’s seeking a four-year deal in the $30 million neighborhood, with $20 million guaranteed.

The Eagles don’t have great depth at his position so they’d be wise to keep lines of communication open and match any reasonable offers Graham might command. But as of right now, it appears that Graham is headed out the door.

COMING UP

We’ll have the latest draft buzz and more.