Smoke Screen? No, Eagles On the Hunt For a Franchise Quarterback

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

A lot happening on the quarterback front. Let’s make some sense of it.

First, the nuts and bolts: The Eagles are working out Carson Wentz today. They were in Berkeley Monday to look at Jared Goff, spent Tuesday with Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan, and will turn their attention to Paxton Lynch of Memphis on Thursday. Owner Jeffrey Lurie is part of the Eagles traveling  committee, per Ian Rapoport.

Lurie, you might recall, was also a member of the crew that went out to see Geno Smith leading up to the 2013 draft. The Eagles ended up passing on Smith — twice, actually — so his presence doesn’t mean everything. It’s also true, though, that before Smith, he hadn’t made such a trip since 1999 when the Eagles pulled the trigger on Donovan McNabb.

“It’s a common thing when it’s an important decision,” Lurie said back in ’13. “We haven’t had a very high draft pick in…14 years. It’s true on anyone we look at, we want all the information we can if we stay at No. 4 there.”

Now they’re at No. 8, and still searching for the long-term answer at quarterback. Don’t allow the presence of Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel on the roster — or the money committed to them this offseason —  to distract you from that point. The contract given to Bradford hardly suggests that the Eagles see him as the solution moving forward, but rather, the best option for 2016. It might be at a price, but they designed his deal so they can cut ties cleanly after this season if they so desire. Daniel is not just an insurance policy, but a trusted ally of Doug Pederson who will embrace the role of mentor to whatever young quarterback they decide to bring in. And they are bringing one in. It’s just a matter of with which pick.

Lurie has made it clear over and over that securing a franchise quarterback is the top priority. Why wouldn’t it be? And while the process of finding one is obviously an inexact science, the best odds lie at the top of the draft.

“It hit me last night like a ton of bricks,” said Adam Schefter during an appearance on 97.5 The Fanatic Wednesday. “It’s just obvious that the Eagles are an x-factor in this draft in terms of taking a quarterback — and trading up to get a quarterback. Now, you don’t know how the price is going to shake out, you don’t know what they’re going to have to give up, you don’t know if Tennessee is going to get a better offer. But I think the Eagles will be in the mix because that’s what they do — they’re aggressive.

“And if you’re sitting there at No. 8, which is not something you get to do very often…and you’re in striking distance of getting a quarterback that you identify as the future of the franchise when you’ve got Sam Bradford under a two-year deal and you’ve got Chase Daniel, who has been a good backup and somebody you want around your locker room but not somebody that you believe you’re going to build around for years to come, then why would you not explore every opportunity to get as high as it takes to get whichever quarterback you identify as the guy that you want?”

The player that “everyone seems to want in this draft,” says Schefter, is Wentz. If the Eagles want Wentz as well, they might have to move up to the top spot to get him.

What would it take?

“To me, I think you’d be talking about your one this year, your one next year, probably your two…it’s a one, a one, a two, and probably something else,” Schefter said.

The price to jump ahead of San Francisco and into that 5-6 range to try and snatch Goff, say, would be less, but will the Cal quarterback even be there?

“I don’t sense or believe right now that the second quarterback is going to make it to seven because quarterbacks go, there’s a premium on them, there’s too many teams in the market for them,” said Schefter, adding that a team very well might have to jump Dallas at 4 to ensure a shot at one of the QBs.

Bottom line, the Eagles might have to make a big move to secure the guy they want — assuming they want one of them. Perhaps they’re only lukewarm on the top QB prospects, and see more value plucking one later in the draft. Roseman told reporters a little while back, though, that they have identified 10 potentially elite players in the first round, hence why they wanted to move from 13 to 8. Is it realistic to think that not one of the quarterbacks is in that top 10? If Roseman has identified an All-Pro caliber quarterback in that group, that’s going to drive that player right up to the top of the draft board due to the importance of the position. If he has honed in on a potential franchise quarterback and has the chance of landing him, you have to think he’d take a shot at it.

So no, I don’t see this QB journey as an elaborate smoke screen. I see the brass of a quarterback-needy team out on the hunt for a quarterback. Whether they ultimately make a splash and push up for one will come down to 1) their final evaluation of Wentz and Goff versus Lynch and the rest of the class and 2) whether they’re able to out-maneuver the rest of the quarterback-hungry teams around them. It might prove to be a difficult feat, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try like hell if they have the quarterback of the future in their sights.