PHILADELPHIA — Who wants to make a deal?
The Philadelphia Eagles, always. Since general manager Howie Roseman first became general manager in 2010, the Eagles have made 103 trades, according to ESPN Stats & Information, second-most in the NFL behind only the New England Patriots (115). They’ve been as active as just about anybody when it comes to in-season deals, with seven trades in either October or November since 2010, which is tied for third-most behind the Patriots (14) and Rams (8).
Roseman has already been hard at work in front of Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET trade deadline. He shipped tight end Zach Ertz to the Arizona Cardinals for cornerback Tay Gowan and a 2022 fifth-round pick, then dealt quarterback Joe Flacco to the New York Jets for a conditional sixth-round pick.
“As the head coach, I don’t have time to be in a we’ll build for next year or whatever it is,” coach Nick Sirianni said. “They brought me in here to win games, and that’s my job, and that’s the message to the team is that it’s business as usual regardless that Zach’s not here anymore or Joe’s not here anymore, and we’re doing everything we can do to win this football game this weekend.”
Management, though, clearly has an eye toward the future. The Eagles are 2-5 and the Dallas Cowboys (5-1) appear to be in a different class than the rest of the NFC East. The Philadelphia brass was hoping to remain competitive while transitioning the roster, but the recent moves indicate reality has set in. If there are other trades out there that will set the organization up for success down the road, they’re going to make them.
Who are some possible trade candidates?
Offensive tackle Andre Dillard is considered to be on the trade block, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, who mentions the AFC North as a possible landing spot. Dillard, the Eagles’ first-round pick in 2019, was beat out by Jordan Mailata for the starting left tackle spot this summer. The team then locked up Mailata up to a four-year, $64 million extension.
Dillard still has value as the primary backup and is under contract at a reasonable price in 2022 ($2.2 million) but there’s no clear path to a starting gig. There are plenty of offensive-line needy teams in the league. If Dillard can bring back, say, a Day 2 pick, it might be worth moving on.
The two players the Eagles have traded so far, Ertz and Flacco, had a few things in common: their contracts were set to expire at the end of the year, they weren’t in the team’s long-term plans, and there were players on the roster (Gardner Minshew, Dallas Goedert, etc.) who could help fill the void in their absence.
Two players who seem to fit that criteria are defensive end Ryan Kerrigan and linebacker Eric Wilson. Kerrigan does not appear to be a natural fit for Jonathan Gannon’s scheme and has been largely unproductive (0 sacks, 1 tackle in 7 games). Perhaps he can make more of an impact in a different system. Wilson began the season as the team’s top linebacker but struggled against the run and has played a more limited role the last three weeks. The Eagles were open to trading one of their linebackers this offseason. It makes sense that they still would be, whether it’s Wilson, T.J. Edwards or otherwise.
Cornerback Steven Nelson is another vet playing on a one-year deal, but as the starter opposite Darius Slay, he’d be harder to replace. The only reason a Nelson trade makes sense is if the Eagles have essentially given up on the season and want young players like rookie Zech McPhearson and Gowan to get some experience.
Could the Eagles end up acquiring a player?
ESPN’s Adam Schefter raised that possibility during an appearance on 97.5 The Fanatic Wednesday.
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“They would not go out and get a player on a short-term, expiring contract the way that a contender could right now, but if there were a young player with two, three years left on his deal, and there was a deal to be had, I think they could trade for a player, too,” he said. “I’m not telling you they will, but over the next week, they’ll look into that. They will.”
It’s clear at this point that Gannon does not have all the pieces for the scheme he’s trying to run. He needs a pure nose tackle. (Perhaps that’s why senior football adviser Tom Donahoe was so irked when general manager Howie Roseman traded back in the third round instead of drafting Alim McNeill, who was instead selected by this week’s opponent, the Detroit Lions, and is a starter for them). Meanwhile, Fletcher Cox, Josh Sweat and Kerrigan are being asked to do things they don’t appear comfortable doing. If they could find a lineman who helps solve some of those problems, that could be a win.
What’s the word on Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson?
With as many as three first-round picks in April’s draft — two of which are projected to be in the top 10 — Philadelphia is best positioned to pull off such a trade from a resource perspective. Given Watson’s stance, as well as the uncertainty about his future amid 22 lawsuits alleging sexual assault and inappropriate behavior, there’s little chance he would end up with the Eagles prior to the deadline.