Unless you just started following football within the past two weeks, you’ve seen plenty of reports over how the Eagles should franchise Nick Foles and trade him to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Sure it makes sense. The Jags need a quarterback and the Eagles are able to expend one. There are also reports of the mutual interest of Foles and the Jags. But for the Eagles to franchise tag Nick Foles, they would have to be able to fit his $25 million salary in their salary cap, which they only have a little more than $2 million in space. If they were to tag him and not find a trade partner, their salary cap jumps to $22 million OVER the cap. Yeah, not good.
It’s possible the Eagles and Jags can find a way to make a trade for Foles work, as it’s reported that the Jags are the only team willing to trade for him, but there’s another deal that the Eagles and Jags can do that will greatly benefit the Eagles and help speed up the Jaguars return to AFC dominance.
I recently put out a piece outlining some of the needs the Eagles have and which free agents would fit those needs. I left out a couple of positions, however. One of those positions is linebacker.
The Eagles currently have the 25th pick in the first round, and almost every draft pundit out there has them selecting a cornerback. I’m not quite sure why that is. The Eagles have a youth movement in their secondary, with veteran Malcolm Jenkins continuing to lead the crew. Jalen Mills will be returning from injury after a strong season, Sidney Jones will look to re-establish his draft pedigree after injuries have hampered him his first two seasons, and Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, and Cre’Von LeBlanc will be back to continue their improvements that we all saw throughout the season. Rodney McLeod restructured his contract to keep from being a cut candidate, so he’s back in 2019 to rejoin Jenkins in the back half of the secondary. With Jenkins and McLeod patrolling center field for the Eagles, the starters look to be Mills, Maddox, and a battle between Douglas, Le’Blanc, and Jones for the final starting spot. Depth and talent is finally not an issue for the Eagles.
However, linebacker depth is an issue. Oft-injured but very talented linebacker Jordan Hicks is a free agent. That leaves Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill as the only other linebackers on the roster who played meaningful snaps for the Eagles during the regular season. Bradham played 88.54% of the snaps whereas Grugier-Hill played 31.60%. Nathan Gerry will be returning for his third year with the team after being their fifth-round pick in 2017. Paul Worrilow was resigned in January after missing the entire year with a torn ACL, and the team will be bringing back B.J. Bello, who played a whopping zero defensive snaps in 2018.
The Jaguars have the seventh pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, which according to WalterFootball, carries a 1,500 point value. The Eagles’ 25th pick carries a 720 point value. Swapping those picks obviously would be a loss for the Jags. But what if the Eagles threw in one of their second round picks? Their first second-round pick, 53rd overall, carries a 370 point value. Pairing the two picks together brings the value to 1,090. Could this be enough to sway the Jags into making a deal? Possibly. The Eagles may need to throw in a future pick in 2020 or maybe a late round pick this year, but the possible addition to the defense would be worth it.
Devin White – Linebacker (LSU)
White is a monster on defense. In 2018, his junior season, White totaled 123 tackles (best in the SEC) with 12 tackles for loss, three sacks, eight quarterback hurries, and three forced fumbles. His sophomore year included 133 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, and four and a half sacks.
He is a force against the run and often pushes running backs backwards, as seen below:
The Strongest linebacker in the upcoming draft is Devin White. White showed off a lot of skills in his 3 seasons at LSU. The most eye popping part of his tape is his ability to knock ball carriers backwards at will. pic.twitter.com/X3jKvWe5ud
— BD Williams (@BDWilliams18) February 11, 2019
White can excel in either a 3-4 or 4-3 defense (which the Eagles deploy) and can also add in the pass defense. He and Bradham could form a terrific tandem and would cause mayhem for opposing defenses. In a division with Saquon Barkley, Adrian Peterson, and Ezekiel Elliot, the Eagles need all the help they could get in that area.
Trading down to 25 and 53 wouldn’t be a big loss for the Jags. Their needs include pass rushing help, and this is a draft loaded with pass rushing specialists. A prospect like Dexter Lawrence could still be had at the 25th pick and the second round pick could be used for another offensive weapon for a new quarterback (free agent signing of Foles?)
Another name to watch if the Eagles don’t end up trading up that high? Devin Bush. They would still need to trade up for the Michigan star but probably would not have to give up as much as they would need to trade up into the top 20 as opposed to top ten.
So to recap:
- Eagles send 2019 first round pick (25), Eagles’ second-round pick (53), 2020 fourth round pick
- Jaguars send 2019 first round pick (7)
If they work out a Foles trade:
- Eagles send Nick Foles and 2019 first round pick (25)
- Jaguars send 2019 first round pick (7)
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports