Weekend Reading: Chip’s Big Move

Was the farm on the market during last years draft?

Chip Kelly and Marcus Mariota. (USA Today Sports)

Chip Kelly and Marcus Mariota. (USA Today Sports)

In case you missed it, Fox Sports NFL insider Peter Shrager recently revealed the details of an Eagles trade that would have landed Marcus Mariota during last years NFL draft. Shrager was on Colin Cowherd’s radio show with the report.

“Last year the Eagles offered the Tennessee Titans — and I know this — a 2015 first-round pick, a 2015 second-round pick, a 2016 first-round pick, they said ‘take any of our quarterbacks’ — that’s Bradford, that’s Sanchez, that’s whoever — [and] take anyone on our defense; we want that No. 2 pick.”

As with any big move — even theoretical — the world of sports opinion was quick to support or decry the unsuccessful offer.

Matt Lombardo of NJ.com wonders whether or not Chip Kelly landing his potential franchise QB would have saved his job.

Kelly, of course, was fired on Dec. 29 after the Eagles were eliminated from the playoffs following a Week 16 loss to the Washington Redskins. Kelly had wrestled personnel control from Howie Roseman the previous January.

One has to wonder if Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie would have reconsidered his decision to fire Kelly had Kelly landed Mariota in the draft or if dealing away three picks in the top 64 would have strengthened his resolve to pull the plug.

CSN Philly’s Corey Sideman calls the trade offer “utterly insane”.

In this alternate universe, is there any way the Eagles would have been a better team? They’d be without one of the NFL’s best defensive players in Cox and two young building blocks in Agholor and Rowe. It’s obviously still too early to know whether Agholor and Rowe will live up to their draft stock. But when you add to the equation this year’s first-round pick that would be lost, that’s another young building block they’d be without, too. So they’d have potentially sacrificed young answers at four different positions to land their QB of the future.

At the end of the day it’s nothing more than an exercise because it didn’t happen. But definitely a lot to digest and analyze.

I don’t even do this kind of stuff in Madden.

On a different note, Jimmy Kempski looks at last year’s signing of Miles Austin and how it represents a major difference in personnel philosophy between Kelly and Howie Roseman.

Somehow, the Eagles gave Austin a one-year deal worth $2,225,000, $1 million of which was guaranteed, that effectively guaranteed him a roster spot in the process. And not only that, Kelly signed him 18 days into free agency, when players who are still on the market are typically happy to find whatever new home they can. Austin should have been given nothing more than the league minimum with a chance to earn a roster spot in training camp.

Austin predictably stunk out loud in 2015, and he was cut before the season ended.

Yesterday, the Eagles signed former Rams and Ravens wide receiver Chris Givens, who has also been ineffective the last two seasons after showing promise early in his career. Givens was still available eight days into free agency, and he signed a deal more commensurate with the level of interest the rest of the league was showing. According to Adam Caplan of ESPN, Givens’ deal was for a measly $840,000, of which just $180,000 is guaranteed.

Both Givens and Austin should have been given extremely low level deals. Roseman landed Givens on one, while Kelly inexplicably gave Austin a deal that made him the 64th highest paid WR in the league. That is essentially low-end number two or high-end number three receiver money.

After a week of free agency, the Eagles are 24th in NFL.com’s power rankings.

The Eagles got their quarterback … or two. They also got rid of some contracts and remnants of the Chip Kelly era. Seriously, it’s as though he was an Etch A Sketch that the front office was champing at the bit to shake the minute the door closed behind him.

Chris Wesseling of NFL.com gives the Eagles an A+ for their moves so far in free agency.

Eagles executive vice president Howie Roseman couldn’t have played this any better, starting with his pre-free agency plan to lock up prime players Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz, Vinny Curry and Malcolm Jenkins to below-market deals. Having solidified his nucleus, Roseman jettisoned ex-coach Chip Kelly’s mistakes, moving up in the first and fourth rounds of the draft by finding takers for DeMarco Murray, Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso.

Franchise quarterback is the most precious commodity in the NFL. With no avenue to secure one on the open market, Roseman re-signed Sam Bradford for upside, adding high-end backup Chase Daniel as premium insurance. It’s a creative approach to a quarterback problem faced by a handful of teams every offseason. Not done yet, Roseman picked up the underrated duo of Rodney McLeod and Leodis McKelvin for the secondary while adding Jim Schwartz-favorite Nigel Bradham at linebacker. How could Roseman have played the market any better?

Now that free agency has slowed down, Tommy Lawlor takes a look at the prospects of a number eight overall pick in his latest Iggles Blitz column, noting one prospect he is significantly lower on than other draft analysts.

Stanley posted terrible times in the 3-cone and short shuttle, two athletic tests that focus on agility. That bugs me a bit when talking about him 8th overall. Watch the USC game and you’ll think Stanley should go Top 5. Watch the Clemson game and he’s more like a mid-1st rounder. Tough, physical defenders can give him problems. And the notion that the Eagles could take him and put him at LG for 2016…don’t be so sure about that. They could try that as a short term move, but Stanley looks more like a pure OT to me. I wouldn’t be upset with Stanley at 8, but he’s not close to being my preference. I don’t see him as a special prospect.

Philly.com’s David Murphy makes the case against the idea of the Eagles taking Ezekiel Elliott in the top ten.

Going Best Player Available is nearly always the right move, but there are exceptions: character concerns, health risks, and, in the case of Elliott, positional scarcity. Since 2009, the only running back to be drafted in the top eight is Trent Richardson, who went No. 3 to the Browns in 2012 and quickly became one of the biggest non-QB busts in draft history. No doubt, Todd Gurley looked as a rookie to be every bit the value at No. 10 as Adrian Peterson was at No. 7 in 2007.

But those two players have once-a-decade combinations of acceleration, strength and finishing ability that truly separate them from the pack. And to illustrate what I mean by the word “pack,” look at the names of backs drafted in the first round between those two. Stop me when you arrive at a career you’d be happy with out of No. 8. In reverse order: Richardson, Doug Martin, David Wilson, Mark Ingram, C.J. Spiller, Ryan Mathews, Jahvid Best, Knowshon Moreno, Donald Brown, Beanie Wells, Darren McFadden, Jonathan Stewart, Felix Jones, Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Johnson.

Joseph Santoliquito of CBS Philly reports that Kelly’s firing may have been based on an ultimatum proposed by owner Jeffrey Lurie.

Chip Kelly was treading through a minefield during the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2015 season. The third-year head coach just didn’t know it.

He had given a simple ultimatum to Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie in January 2015: He needed total power in the organization to win. That meant the authority to move and shake up the roster.

Privately, Lurie had his reservations if Kelly knew what he was doing. Compounding that were the tremors Lurie was hearing throughout the NovaCare Complex about how cold and abrupt Kelly was. It didn’t help that Kelly wasn’t exactly Mr. Warm and Fuzzy. So in Lurie’s head, it appears, he carried a silent ultimatum of his own, months before the 2015 season, according to a few sources close to the Eagles: make the playoffs or fire the coach.