Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Risk Of Trading Up

Doug Pederson. (USA Today Sports)

Doug Pederson. (USA Today Sports)

It’s hard to ignore the symmetry in all of this.

Here’s first-year head coach Doug Pederson, sitting in the two-hole and poised to roll the bones on a potential franchise quarterback, just like his mentor Andy Reid some 17 years ago. We know Jeffrey Lurie is leaning on the past for guidance following several wrong turns, but this is getting downright eerie.

There is reason enough to follow the blue print. Thanks in large part to the quality of play that Donovan McNabb brought to the quarterback position, the Eagles enjoyed eight winning seasons, five NFC championship appearances and a Super Bowl trip during the 11 seasons that Reid and McNabb were paired together.  As that big piece of Eagles history shows, if you get the quarterback part right, you have a real chance at achieving sustained success.

But that ’99 draft was as much cautionary tale as it was promotional video for going QB early. Tim Couch went first that year, and Akili Smith third. Daunte Culpepper (11th overall)  was the second-most successful signal-caller in this crop which is a bummer for the Bears, who went Cade McNown at 12.  More misses than hits there. Credit the front office at the time for making the right call, but there’s a degree of good fortune that’s involved.

Recent history shows that luck really needs to be on your side when trading up for a QB. The Chicago Sun Times and CBS Sports both put out pieces last offseason on this very subject. They found that of the 15 teams that moved up in the first round for a quarterback since 2000, only a few netted positive results.

The Sun-Times paints the picture:

The best quarterbacks drafted as a result of those trades include Michael Vick (Atlanta Falcons, 2001), [Eli] Manning (New York Giants, 2004), Jay Cutler (Denver Broncos, 2006) and [Joe] Flacco (Baltimore Ravens, 2008).

The misses vastly outnumber the hits, and it’s a stunningly bad list: Kyle Boller (Ravens, 2003), J.P. Losman (Buffalo Bills, 2004), Jason Campbell (Washington Redskins, 2005), Brady Quinn (Cleveland Browns, 2007), Mark Sanchez (New York Jets, 2009), Josh Freeman (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2009), Tim Tebow (Broncos, 2010), Blaine Gabbert (Jacksonville Jaguars, 2011), Robert Griffin III (Redskins, 2012) and Johnny Manziel (Browns, 2014). The Minnesota Vikings also traded up to select Teddy Bridgewater in 2014, but he’s their starter and showed promise as a rookie.

In a couple cases, the move paid off. Though San Diego ended up with Philip Rivers,  Shawne Merriman and kicker Nate Kaeding as part of the deal, the Giants have two Super Bowls under Manning, so you live with it. Flacco has a Lombardi to his name as well. If you’re making the case for the move, you point to those instances and repeat the line that the level of compensation can’t be too high if you land a quarterback that can bring you rings.

That’s generally where I come down on it. Opportunities to move up and select a potential star quarterback are few and far between. So long as you’ve done your homework and are confident the player is a high-end prospect, you might as well do it.

I think it was the correct move for the Eagles, all considered, but there’s no guarantee this will break the right way. It’s 2016, not ’99. Pederson, not Reid. Wentz, not McNabb. And a trade up as opposed to standing pat, which means fewer resources in the draft and therefor a smaller margin for error in getting the picks right.

Rueben Frank rolled out this stat on Quick Slants Wednesday: Since 1965, eight quarterbacks have been drafted second overall. Of those eight, only one has a winning record: McNabb.

If it hits it can hit in a big way, but we should be realistic when it comes to the level of risk actually involved here.


“He’s hot.” Bradford reportedly not happy following the trade.

Roseman, though, says that Bradford is the starter and that the organization plans to support him.

Details of the swap can be found here.


Sheil can’t quit the Eagles. Here are his thoughts on the trade:

By giving away five picks, are they mortgaging the future? To a degree, yes. But I would argue that any future tied to Sam Bradford was hopeless anyway. Since 2010, 20 quarterbacks have attempted at least 2,000 passes. Among that group, Bradford ranks last in passer rating, yards per attempt and touchdowns. He’s been afforded every excuse in the book, but expecting him to suddenly be a different guy after six seasons and 63 starts would be foolish.

The Eagles signed Bradford and Chase Daniel not knowing for certain whether they’d be able to pull off a trade. It’s completely fair to question those signings, but now they’re in position to sit a rookie QB for a year, and they can part ways with Bradford after 2016.

Howie Roseman had two options: build a roster so good that it could make up for mediocre quarterback play or take a big swing on a quarterback who could make up for other deficiencies on the roster. He chose the latter. Now he has to hope that the organization’s evaluation (presumably of Carson Wentz) is correct.

Roseman is taking ownership of the deal, writes CSN Philly’s Andy Schwartz.

“This move does not fill an immediate need,” Roseman told Comcast SportsNet’s Derrick Gunn on Wednesday. “I mean, there’s no question about that. If we were just looking at how we could be the best team we possibly could for 2016, this wasn’t the right move.”

The right move, however, was jumping at the chance to get a quarterback when it presented itself. Sure, another crop of quarterbacks will be available in next year’s draft, but who knows if the Eagles will be in a position to get one — and specifically one of the top-rated ones…

“I take full responsibility for these moves. This is on me,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’m the one who said yes to the deal. I take full responsibility for all of this and trying to build a team here that’s championship caliber, and that takes time. That doesn’t happen overnight, and we realize that, that you can put Band-Aids on things and do things that are good for the short term.”


Reaction to the Eagles-Browns trade continues.