Three-And-Out: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down
If you missed the first installment, click here.
Here’s the second part with Tim and Sheil going back-and-forth on the Eagles’ offseason moves so far.
1. The Nick Foles-Sam Bradford trade.
Kapadia: Thumbs down.
I think some are missing the point when it comes to this deal. It’s not as simple as: Whom would you rather have at quarterback?
On that point, you could argue either side. Bradford probably has more natural talent, but he’s played in seven games the past two seasons. Foles had his issues as well, but he’s younger and at times has looked very good in the Eagles’ system.
The issue to me is what the Eagles gave up. Not only did they take on Bradford’s salary, which carries a cap hit of $12.895 million, but they also included a 2016 second-round pick. The Eagles’ last four second-round picks have been Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz, Mychal Kendricks and Vinny Curry. In other words, that pick has a lot of value.
One of my concerns with the Chip Kelly–Ed Marynowitz partnership is that neither guy has experience negotiating deals and assessing the market. Kelly said the Eagles did not have discussions about Foles with any other teams. Did the Eagles do their due diligence in finding the best deal? Or did the just decide they wanted Bradford and cave to the Rams’ demands?
Again, I have no issue with the idea that Bradford might be better than Foles, but I have issues with other aspects of the trade.
McManus: Thumbs down.
If we’re being honest, my thumbs will be sticking sideways until I get to see Bradford in this system for an extended period of time, but my initial reaction was that St. Louis won the trade.
I agree with you, Sheil: that second round pick is no small add-in. Is there such a disparity between Foles and Bradford to justify the Eagles including that level of compensation in the package? Bradford has the pedigree and what looks like a stronger arm. But he’s more expensive and has a more extensive injury history. Foles has the better stats in just about every category including completion percentage, yards-per-attempt, quarterback rating and win percentage.
Kelly obviously sees Bradford as the better fit, and I applaud him for going after what he wants. There’s just a bunch of risk involved. Could be that Bradford stays healthy and realizes his potential under Kelly. There’s also a chance that he’s unable to shake the injury bug and falters in Philly while Foles flourishes for the Rams.
Only time will tell whether this deal proves to be brilliant or potentially damaging for the Eagles.
2. Not re-signing Jeremy Maclin.
Kapadia: Thumbs down.
Of all the moves we’ve looked at, this is the one I’m most on the fence about. On one hand, Maclin got $22.5 million guaranteed from the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s a lot of money and a price I’m not sure another team in the league was willing to pay.
So if we look at his move in a vacuum, I think the Eagles made the right decision.
The problem? They ended up paying big money for a bunch of other players like Byron Maxwell, DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. Reports suggested that the Eagles were willing to pay Maclin about $9.5 million per year, while the Chiefs went up to $11 million. If Kelly really valued Maclin, they could have made up the difference by not signing two running backs or releasing DeMeco Ryans or making another move.
There’s a theory that Kelly can plug and play anyone in at wide receiver and be successful. It’s true that Riley Cooper, DeSean Jackson and Maclin all had career years under Kelly. But talent still matters. And it’s not like the Eagles have an obvious replacement for Maclin.
Again, this is a tough one, but I’ll say thumbs down.
McManus: Thumbs up
The preference would be to have Maclin on the roster, clearly, but I can’t fault the Eagles for refusing to go above $10 million per year. Take a look at Maclin’s contract breakdown, and you’ll see that he carries a minimum cap hit of $12.4 million per year starting next season. Per spotrac, he’s scheduled to have the highest cap number among receivers in ’16 behind only Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald.
This is not a situation where the Eagles didn’t prioritize an important player — their reported $9.5 million per year offer suggests they very much wanted him — but rather a case where they established a pretty reasonable walkaway number, and stuck to it when Kansas City came in with a whopper.
With Maclin gone, Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff will almost certainly be elevated into more prominent positions. And it would be of little surprise if the Eagles pull a wideout or two out of the upcoming draft, which is said to be rich with quality receivers once again.
Having such a green receiving corps is not ideal, but this was a hard decision that I don’t blame the Eagles for making.
3. Re-signing Brandon Graham to a deal that includes $14M guaranteed.
Kapadia: Thumbs up.
The biggest question here is: If the Eagles didn’t feel like Graham was a starting-caliber player last year, what changed their minds this offseason? Sure, he had Trent Cole in front of him, but Cole was formidable, not dominant.
Having said that, regular readers know I’m a Graham fan. In terms of consistently winning one-on-one battles up front, he and Fletcher Cox really stand out on this defense. Graham is good enough when dropping back into coverage, and he can play the run as well.
It’s possible that Graham is better suited to be a rotational player, but the feeling here is that he’ll be productive with more snaps. I think a double-digit sack season is entirely possible.
McManus: Thumbs up.
This move made sense for both sides.
After cutting Trent Cole, the Eagles were in need of a starting outside linebacker to play opposite Connor Barwin. One free-agent possibility, Jason Worilds, decided to retire from football. The options were dwindling. They had kept in touch with Graham’s camp throughout, and when word came out that things were getting serious with the Giants, talks heated up.
The market for Graham proved to be a little underwhelming. He was ready to take a prove-it deal with the Giants, confident that he’d flourish in their 4-3 defense and set himself up for a handsome pay day down the road. But the Eagles came in with a nice offer at the last minute and Graham decided to stay in Philly.
The five-year vet is taking on more responsibilities this year. It’s yet to be seen whether he’ll flourish in a starter’s role. That said, he is familiar with the system and has been productive in his allotted snaps under Billy Davis to date. There’s reason to believe he’s ready to take the next step.