Weekend Reading: Foles Or Mariota?

Photo Credit: Matt Kartozian - USA Today

Photo Credit: Matt Kartozian – USA Today

Here are some Eagles-related links to check out this weekend:

Vince Verhei of ESPN.com made a list of bold moves for each team in the NFC East this offseason and he wants the Eagles to trade up for–you guessed it–Marcus Mariota:

When Chip Kelly arrived in Philadelphia in 2013, his unorthodox offensive system caught the league off guard and turned draft afterthought Nick Foles into a Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback for about three months. Given a full offseason to study Eagles game film, though, the rest of the league caught up, and in 2014 Foles looked like the mediocre passer he has always been. Philadelphia will need better quarterback play to get far in the playoffs.

Which brings us to Mariota, who played for Kelly at Oregon. College football has undergone some radical changes in the past four or five seasons, and that has made it more difficult to project how quarterback performance will translate from the amateur ranks to the pros. That said, Mariota shines in all the statistical categories that have indicated NFL success in the past. He started 41 NCAA games. He completed 67 percent of his passes in his career. He averaged 6.6 yards per carry and 54.6 rushing yards per game, so he has good mobility. But, unlike say Tim Tebow, he didn’t run so often that it’s hard to judge his passing prowess. And any concerns that Mariota might be a product of his system would be irrelevant in Philadelphia, which is running the same system anyway.

As an early guess, it would cost Philadelphia their top two draft picks this year (at a minimum) to move up from 20 and get Mariota. That’s a small price to pay for the perfect quarterback for Kelly’s offense.

Cian Fahey of Bleacher Report gives an in-depth look on Foles’s skill level and believes it would be wise to move on:

This is the issue with Foles, though. When he wasn’t in a perfect situation, he couldn’t elevate his teammates. He simply misses too many throws downfield, regardless of who he was playing with. That is the biggest reason why Kelly needs to move on from him.

Maybe it’s a coincidence or maybe there are currently unknown details that will be revealed later, but Kelly recently took over more personnel control with the Eagles in anticipation of the draft that boasts the best quarterback he coached at Oregon.

Mike Sielski of the Inquirer believes that if Mariota is who Kelly thinks he is, Kelly should pursue him, no matter the cost:

Going after Mariota, doing whatever it takes to get him, makes perfect sense for Kelly and the Eagles. If Kelly considers the draft a complete crapshoot, as he suggested he does in an interview last year with Sports Illustrated, then of course he’d make Mariota his top priority. Of course he’d bank that the player he knows best and values most would allow the Eagles to overcome all their shortcomings, and of course he’d be willing to sacrifice draft picks and players if it meant he’d have the ideal quarterback for the full potential of his offense to blossom.

That’s the power of a great quarterback, after all. The New England Patriots, the Green Bay Packers, the Indianapolis Colts – those teams aren’t perfect, but their quarterbacks elevate them. If you knew Mariota would be that caliber of quarterback, if you knew he’d be Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck, how much would you give up to get him?

Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com takes a look at five under the radar free agents and one could be a potential fit for the Eagles: safety Ron Parker of the Chiefs:

Count me as a believer in his ability to be a long-­term starter at safety, whether free or strong safety.

Parker, a former corner, made the transition inside this season and did a nice job. You could see his confidence grow week by week as he became more comfortable with the safety position.

He played some in the box as well as in the deep middle, which I think offers versatility to a team that would sign him. This is a kid who has overcome being cut eight times by three different teams before settling in at safety.

He has also started at corner and did a nice job last season against Buffalo’s Sammy Watkins. He has also become a better player in the run game, which is key for a corner moving inside.

At 6­-feet, 210 pounds, he is big enough to handle tight ends, which he was asked to do a bunch. Against the Steelers late in the season, he was beaten a few times by Heath Miller in man coverage, but he bounced back to do some good things. I like that in a secondary player because they all get beat. It’s how they respond. He did.

Don Banks of SI.com believes that the Eagles will be able to sign Jeremy Maclin before he hits the open market:

The Eagles and Chip Kelly didn’t exactly look brilliant for unceremoniously booting DeSean Jackson to the curb last spring — he had two pretty big games on behalf of Washington against the just-missed-the-playoffs-Birds in 2014 — so I can’t in my wildest imagination see them letting Maclin escape this year. Kelly loves his skill set and his success in both Andy Reid and Kelly’s divergent offenses speaks well for his ability, as does his knack for prospering no matter who’s playing quarterback in Philly. Look for a long-term deal to get done before the market opens, and for Maclin to remain the Eagles’ No. 1 receiving threat for the foreseeable future.

He’s coming off a career year (85 receptions, 1,318 yards, 10 touchdowns) after he bet on himself with a one-year, $5.5 million deal in early 2014, after his 2013 ACL injury, and Maclin still will only be 27 years old as he starts his seventh NFL season. If the negotiations get difficult, Maclin could also draw the Eagles’ franchise tag, but that has not been Philadelphia’s style of late. The better bet is the two sides reaching a deal without much drama or fireworks.

Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com takes a look at the Eagles cap situation and flexibility for 2015:

This is a very interesting offseason for the Eagles. In the blink of an eye they can create the cap room necessary to either keep whatever players they want or to go out there and find new players. They also have chips on the team that could potentially be moved for draft picks the way they peddled Kevin Kolb off on the Cardinals years ago. Very rarely do the Eagles miss on re-signing or keeping their players, so regardless of what players are allowed to leave the team, I would be confident if I was an Eagles fan that they won’t regret the move.

After the failures of the “Dream Team” movement a few years back I would not expect the Eagles to get in the hunt for any of the high priced players in free agency unless it is at a safer and more moderate cost position such as guard, where there are some good options this year, which would fill an immediate need. The team already has a great left tackle and center so it would not be a shock to upgrade that interior. Otherwise I think free agency will be used to improve the depth, which can be accomplished for safety, inside linebacker, and cornerback, where the deals are likely no longer than 3 years in length.