The rumor mill surrounding the Eagles and Saints wide receiver has been nothing short of wild. One minute, the team are favorites to land the 23-year old through means of a trade..and the next, the Saints raise the stakes by demanding more than just a first round pick for the man who has had back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. But even though the stakes are high..the Eagles could have a surprising amount of leverage, if they were willing to part ways with a certain backup quarterback.
It was only a week ago that I wrote an article stating that if the team value the development of Carson Wentz, trading Chase Daniel should be an absolute no-no. I still stand by that completely..but in a scenario where the team believe that Wentz is more than capable of heading into next year without a veteran presence, or one in which they prioritize the cap, balancing the roster, and adding weapons for their quarterback over his personal development..then Daniel becomes the gatekeeper.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Saints are still seeking high returns for Cooks:
#Saints continuing to talk with #Eagles, #Titans & #Patriots in a potential Brandin Cooks deal. They want a picks or someone to affect QBs
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 8, 2017
While Rapoport’s tweet is more than likely insinuating that the Saints want a pass rusher, you could also interpret the report in a slightly different way..and it would hold arguably even more weight.
It’s understandable why the Saints want someone to influence their QB corps as opposed to the success of others. Drew Brees, now 38-years old, isn’t getting any younger and is heading toward the tail end of his career..leaving plenty of speculation surrounding his replacement. Luke McCown probably isn’t the long-term answer..which leaves the Saints either preparing to draft the future of the franchise in the next couple of season’s, or turn to an existing NFL arm.
It would be shocking the Patriots were to give up Jimmy Garoppolo for Cooks, especially considering that the Browns have said to be willing to give up their 12th overall pick for Tom Brady’s backup who has flashed plenty during limited opportunities.
That leaves the Titans and the Eagles. Tennessee have just tied Matt Cassel down as their veteran presence to help develop Marcus Mariota..and they certainly won’t want to trade away one of the most dominant red-zone quarterbacks in the league and one of the most exciting signal callers.
So, that leaves the Eagles and the conundrum of Chase Daniel. While Daniel’s contract is anything but appealing (a 3-year $21M deal), what he brings to the table certainly is. It’s easy to forget that Daniel spent four seasons with New Orleans, learning under the iconic Drew Brees..something that isn’t lost on Chase.
“It all goes back to my time in this league. I know a lot of people want to say I haven’t played in a lot of games, which is true, I’ve played and started two games, but I’ve been around a future first-ballot Hall of Famer in Drew Brees,” Daniel said. “I backed him up for four years [and] I backed up Alex Smith for three years, so I sort of know what [starting] takes and entails over an in-season schedule”
In fact, what Daniel learned under Brees is largely what made him both so valuable to the growth of Alex Smith..and why the Eagles were so quick to give him such a large salary for his services. Alex Smith spoke incredibly highly of Daniel, just a few weeks after Daniel left to follow former Offensive Coordinator and now Head Coach, Doug Pederson.
“For me, it’s nice to have the perspective of another guy, a guy that’s played quarterback and knows what it’s like,” Smith said.“It’s crucial sometimes to have that, and I really did have it with Chase the last few years. He’s a guy whose opinion I really trusted and think a lot of.”
If the Saints want to develop a quarterback who can step in after Brees retires, they need to act fast. Quarterback is hardly at its strongest in terms of this years draft class and be it next year’s flock of signal callers or a free agent signing..they have to be ready. Daniel would be the perfect mentor for a young gunslinger..the Saints know it and the Eagles do, especially after how much of an impact he played during the rookie season of Carson Wentz. It’s hardly like free agency is glistening with affordable talent, either..nor is it set to be in the season’s to come. This was a large factor in the Eagles decision to trade up for Carson Wentz.
The team also need pass rush help..and while the Eagles would likely be unwilling to give away Brandon Graham in such a deal after a great first season in a 4-3 scheme, players like both Mychal Kendricks and Connor Barwin could be seen as perfect fits for the Saints.
New Orleans are becoming their own worst enemy. Father time is unrelenting and as the season’s tick by without a replacement for Drew Brees, the pressure grows. The more time Brandin Cooks is on the trade block, the more he’s expressing his distaste for his apparent mistreatment and the more his teammates are turning. The situation is turning toxic for the Saints..and if all three teams were to turn their backs now, the Saints would be left with a disjointed WR corps and a high-potential receiver who is hurting the locker room, not to mention a lack of future stability at the most important position in all of football.
Driving that price down further is the fact that Daniel is incredibly valuable to the Eagles, as noted in my article earlier this week. The team ensured that quarterback coach, John DeFilippo remained with the team despite an offer from the Jets and have embedded arguably the most QB friendly coaching tree in the NFL at the moment..with all three offensive coaches having played in the NFL. Daniel is a crucial part of that structure and losing him would not only be trusting Wentz to fly solo, just one year after he was drafted to backup Sam Bradford until he was ready to start, let alone play 16 games..but it would be removing one of the most influential players on the entire offense.
The Saints know Daniel well..and with the veteran quarterback market all but dried up, he remains arguably the most attractive and attainable option for them, should they wish to add both an insurance policy for Brees..and set themselves up to develop the next incarnation of the legendary quarterback.
Whether or not a trade will be made is anybody’s guess..and while speculation of picks, pass rushers and even stars are thrown around avidly..the picture is clear. The more this rumor continues to linger without substance, the Eagles become more dangerous to snag a bargain or at least drive down the prices set by the Saints. But make no mistake, the key player in all of this, is Chase Daniel.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports