We’ve all seen the rumors, the never-ending Instagram posts, and the subtle tweets. We’ve all dreamed up scenarios in which the Eagles are somehow able to pluck Yannick Ngakoue away from the Jags, or snatch someone like Brandin Cooks away from the Rams. But just how likely are the Eagles to land another blockbuster trade this offseason?
There’s no questioning that both Ngakoue and Cooks would significantly improve the Eagles, but they would do so at a cost and more importantly, at a time where those backloaded contracts are beginning to slowly creep up in value. A looming Zach Ertz extension has to factor into the mind of Roseman when looking to take on yet another player who is going to cost $12M+ on average over the next few years. The Eagles have $28M in immediate cap space, but it’s the years that follow that will present the difficulty – making the prospect of rookie contracts ever more enticing for a team that already has a foundation to win now and is simply looking to sustain success rather than surge towards it.
The panic for Yannick
Ngakoue’s fit with the Eagles is beyond logical. Despite being young, he already has the second-highest amount of sacks in franchise history with 37.5. He’s coming off a year where he recorded eight sacks, two forced fumbles, 13 tackles for loss, and 15 quarterback hits. Finding a way to bring that kind of production to Philadelphia would be huge…and also give the Eagles a mulligan on Derek Barnett.
Including Barnett in place of a high pick would give the Jags a similarly young player to mold, who is in year 4 of his contract with a fifth-year option up for grabs, and a player who amassed 6.5 sacks of his own last year.
But if it’s going to cost a 2020 first-rounder, would the Eagles be better off trading and paying through the rough for Ngakoue, or investing it in a prospect and hitting reset entirely, knowing depth is already eerily light and switching Barnett for Ngakoue doesn’t fix that entirely?
Too many chefs in the kitchen
Meanwhile, Brandin Cooks would present a slightly more affordable option…in some sense. The price is reported to be a second-round pick, which for a 26-year old with 4 1,000-yard seasons already, is pretty good.
However, the Eagles would have to pay him $8 million in 2020, $12M in 2021, $13M in 2022, and $14M in 2023.
Considering the recent free-agent market, where Anderson got $10 mil/year, Cobb $9 mil/year, Sanders $8 mil/year, and Perriman $8 mil/year, the hit doesn’t seem too bad for a player of Cooks’ caliber.
But DeSean Jackson is already the sixth-highest paid player on the roster and has another year yet, while Alshon Jeffery and his guaranteed salary look more and more likely to stay with each passing hour.
Cooks also has a worrying concussion history and Howie Roseman has already made it clear that he has to factor in medical patterns more than he has in recent years.
The Eagles can’t just keep throwing silly money at the position in the hope something sticks. They also can’t afford to waste draft capital on it only for that talent to not develop. When there are so many WR’s with first-round potential in this year’s class, it seems exhausting to just plunge another $8M into a wideout when the upside in the Draft is far greater.
In terms of draft capital, the cupboard is still fairly packed. The Eagles gave up pick 85 and a fifth-rounder for Darius Slay, but it still leaves them with eight selections for this year’s event, which are as follows.
Round 1: Pick 21
Round 2: Pick 53
Round 3: Pick 103 (comp)
Round 4: Pick 127
Round 4: Pick 145 (comp)
Round 4: Pick 146 (comp)
Round 5: Pick 168
Round 6: Pick 190
The really important thing to note here is the value of compensatory picks. Howie Roseman has placed a real focus on gathering these selections in recent years, with some players being released with the compensatory return being a primary reason. We’ve already seen that just by having those picks, it allows the Eagles to work other assets into trades, CC: The Detroit Lions.
The value of those 3 compensatory picks (the likeliest to be moved) according to the NFL Draft value chart is approximately 153. Bundling them together could theoretically be enough for the Eagles to move to around pick 86 with no further teaser needed.
Obviously, bundling those picks with let’s say, pick #21 would be just enough to push the Eagles to around pick 16-17. I think this scenario is far more likely than those assets being used to attain a player.
The deal sweeteners
We’ve already mentioned the three names who fit this mold very subtly. But just to wrap up, the Eagles have three players who could be used to add some extra spice to a deal.
As of right now, parting ways with Alshon Jeffery is tough due to banking on a team taking on his guaranteed salary, while swallowing $15.9M in dead cap. Yum. But if there’s a blockbuster trade that needs a push over the line and a team is desperate enough to find a target for a young QB, you could (don’t tell Philly fans this) do a lot worse than Alshon Jeffery.
At this point, it’s clear the Eagles don’t view Douglas in their long-term plans, however unjustified that may same. That doesn’t mean other teams won’t find value in a 6’2 cornerback who has come on leaps and bounds as a tackler and thrives at the catch-point. Entering his contract year, Douglas is basically on a prove-it deal right now, but deserves a shot to start somewhere new.
If the Eagles don’t want to pay Barnett around $9M next year (another debate entirely), then trading him now and recouping some ammo to draft another young DE makes sense. Brandon Graham had a stellar campaign, but outside of that, the position struggled. It needs reinforcements and if Barnett isn’t in the long-term plans, cashing in and restarting the process of drafting a talent in the early rounds to learn under the vets would be a logical choice.
The Eagles have the ammo to pull off a blockbuster trade, but pulling the trigger basically pushes Howie Roseman away from ‘building through the Draft’ and into throwing money at stars in the hope that it will be enough. It’s a vote in confidence in a renewed coaching staff to perhaps develop talent deeper into the Draft class. As enticing as these projected deals may be, is that really the path this Eagles team should be prepared to walk down?
Liam is a 24-year old sports journalist from the UK and founder of the Philly Sports Network. In just five years he turned a hobby into one of the fastest-growing Philadelphia sports sites in the world, amassing 7,000,000 views and writing over 3,000 articles. Drawing attention from the likes of CSN, NJ.Com and Bleacher Report in the process, Liam is set on changing the way Philadelphia sports teams are reported on forever.
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