The Eagles made a trade earlier today, acquiring OLB Adrian Robinson from the Steelers. There will be quite a few moves coming in the next couple of weeks. Most will be cuts, but there could be a couple of signings and maybe another trade or two.
Don’t expect big moves. They just don’t happen at this time of the year. Right now we’re talking about roster tweaks, not foundation moves.
There is one big move that’s possible. Safety Jairus Byrd might be on the trade market. We don’t know anything for sure. The Bills aren’t actively shopping him. Byrd hasn’t come out and publicly demanded a trade. The question is whether the Bills want to to spend big money on him. They obviously don’t want to give him as much as Byrd is asking for right now. The sides might be able to work something out, but both have to move off their current stance.
There was recent speculation that the Bills might not want draft picks, since teams aren’t likely to give up a 1st or 2nd rounder for a Safety. I can’t say I understand this. Safety is becoming more and more of a critical position. I would think there would be some teams eager to give up a good pick for Byrd. Maybe I’m wrong on the market for Byrd due to the fact you have to give up a pick and a big deal.
The theory was that Buffalo would ask for players instead. The obvious thing to say is send Nate Allen to the Bills. They also don’t have a great LG situation. Send them Danny Watkins as well. Add in a mid-round pick. Problem is that the Bills have to want what you offer. They may have no interest in Allen or Watkins. You have to give something to get something.
I’m sure Howie Roseman has called Buffalo to talk about player moves. And you can bet he was feeling out whether Byrd is available and just what the price is.
I do not see a Byrd trade involving the Eagles as likely. I think a team that is a bit more desperate could make a better offer. You’ve got some desperate coaches and GMs out there. Those guys might be willing to mortgage the future since they don’t know they’ll be there to deal with the repercussions.
* * * * *
Jeff McLane wrote an interesting piece on Howie and how the Eagles intentionally built up the offense, despite knowing that was already the strength of the team.
“When we went back and studied the teams who’ve won, they have a strength,” Roseman said. “They’re not just in the middle on both sides of the ball. And when we looked at our offense and looked at where we had players rated in the draft, we saw that there was an opportunity to really strengthen positions there that we thought could really help us be successful on offense.”
Some of you will like this. Some won’t. I’m just interested in the thinking.
Howie does like to study successful teams and to try and see how they were built. Is there a pattern that can be copied?
I have no problem with trying to build up the offense. Today’s NFL is all about offense. You must be able to score points. Don’t make this out to be “ignore the defense”. You must play effective defense to be a good team. But if you can’t score, you’re going to struggle to win, especially in the postseason. Out of the last 11 Super Bowls, only 3 teams have scored fewer than 24 points to win the game.
The Eagles aren’t ignoring the defense. The 2012 draft netted Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry and Brandon Boykin. This offseason the Eagles signed Connor Barwin, Isaac Sopoaga and 3 new starters for the secondary.
Most people expect the Eagles best chance at being competitive this year to hinge on the offense’s ability to win some shootouts. The offense has good starters and good depth. That side of the ball should be solid, barring some epic disasters. The defense still needs work. It may take a couple of years to fix that side of the ball. And the defense may never catch up to the offense. In today’s NFL, that might be okay.
* * * * *
A reader asked whether the Eagles could look to deal Trent Cole and/or Brandon Graham. Cole costs more to trade than to keep. That complicates things. Also, the Eagles do value him as a leader and good locker room presence. The other consideration is that I don’t think the Eagles would get much in return.
The reader wondered about dealing Graham to Dallas for Anthony Spencer. Graham is a DE moving to LB. Spencer is a LB moving to DE. Could the teams help each other out? Not likely. Spencer is coming off his best year. He had 11 sacks, 2 FFs and 7 TFLs. In his career, Graham has 8.5 sacks, 4 FFs and 4 TFLs. The Eagles could sweeten the pot with picks, but the NFL isn’t a trading league.
I don’t know what the Eagles think of Graham. Some of you think the coaches are idiots for not starting him. Some of you think there is some kind of bias there. Graham is a shorter guy and Kelly does like taller players, but that isn’t enough to make a guy a backup.
Just because he’s not starting doesn’t mean the Eagles don’t value Graham. I think they see him as a valuable rusher in the Nickel and Dime units. Graham is a good player. The Eagles are trying to figure out how to use him in the new defense. I do not think they will shop him around, but I do think they would listen to trade offers. Because Graham is a good pass rusher, he would require a good offer. I don’t know that anyone will want Graham enough to pony up an offer they Eagles can’t refuse.
I have speculated about Jason Avant being trade material for a while. That changed after the Maclin injury. I do wonder if the Eagles would be open to moving Avant. The argument for keeping him is that he’s a terrific role player, good blocker and good leader (he was key in the Riley Cooper thing settling down). The counter is to deal him and see if Greg Salas could take over that role. That would allow you to also keep Russell Shepard and you would add a draft pick. This would be a roll of the dice, but you would be making the WR corps younger and more athletic.
I would not make this move for a 7th rounder. I’m not sure about a 6th. I just don’t know if anyone would be willing to give a 5th for Avant. The knee-jerk answer is no, but if this is a contending team, they may see this a not much different from a 6th round pick since they expect to be at the bottom of the round anyway.
* * * * *
Many of you are starting to ask about players from other teams. Should the Eagles be interested in So & So if he’s cut by the Niners or Bengals or whoever?
The Eagles roster has holes. The team has scouts looking at the other 31 teams and trying to find help.
Let’s make one thing clear. We’re looking for upgrades, not change. Too many people say “Nate Allen is a bum. Anyone would be better than that guy.” No, that isn’t true. Nate hasn’t proven to be a good player with any consistency in his 3 years. He has good games, but they are definitely outnumbered by the bad ones.
Someone on Twitter asked about Taylor Mays. He’s 230 pounds. He’s fast. If he gets cut, should we be interested? No. Actually, hell no. Mays hasn’t been good enough to regularly get on the field in SF or Cincy. Nate might be an underachiever, but Mays is a non-achiever.
As much as anything, the Eagles are looking for depth and competition right now. You aren’t going to find many starters in late August, but you can find a player to come in and improve the depth. Those players could eventually become key role players or starters. It just isn’t realistic to expect instant answers to be out there.
The Eagles will be making moves in the next couple of weeks. Most will be minor, but you never know when you might land a key player. Back in 1998 the Eagles picked up some guy named Al Harris late in the summer and he turned out to be kinda decent.