Eagles play the futures option with draft pick trades

Maybe it’s about kicking current salary cap restrictions down the road, maybe it’s about stockpiling quantity in 2022 instead of quality investments in 2022…maybe it’s a reflection of personnel scouting consensus that there isn’t that much quality in this year’s draft class?  Maybe it’s a little of each…

The Eagles agreed to trade two of their three first-round picks (16th and 19th overall) and a sixth-round pick (194th) to the Saints for the 18th overall pick, a third-round selection (101st), a seventh-round pick (237th), a 2023 first-round pick, and a 2024 second-round pick.

The Eagles, who came into the offseason with three Day 1 selections — based off trades with the Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins last offseason — still have 10 overall picks and two premium selections added to their draft assets over the next two years.

Mike Kaye, who recently moved from NJ.com to Pro Football Network, grades the trade:

“The Eagles have been keeping their eyes on 2023 throughout the offseason, and there was always a likelihood that Howie Roseman would move back or trade out of the first round due to the possibility of having to decide on three fifth-year options at the same time in 2025. Fifth-year options are incredibly pricey, and for a team that wants to nail all three of its first-round selections — if used — the idea of having to pick up a trio of eight-figure, guaranteed salaries is troubling.”

“Also, the conventional wisdom in and around the league is that this group of first-round prospects is very limited and top-heavy. So, while having three mid-first-round picks seems appealing on paper, selecting one or two likely second-round grade players with those choices is clearly not that sexy.”

“During the 2022 season, the Eagles can give QB Jalen Hurts another yearlong tryout while also garnering enough draft assets to either help him in the long run or find his replacement. If Hurts bombs his yearlong audition, the Eagles will have two first-round picks, which could help them trade up for the QB prospect they desire. If Hurts excels, the Eagles have spread out the value of their two first-round trades from last year.”

Okay, kind of makes sense if you believe the overriding objective is to use 2022 as a rebuilding springboard to a championship run in 2023 and beyond… But EYE never before endorsed a retreat maneuver in stocking the Eagles’ talent pool, so this is a different ball game now.

The Eagles essentially traded down two spots in the first round and swapped the 19th overall pick and a sixth-round selection with the Saints for a 2023 first-round pick, a 2024 second-round pick, and third- and seventh-round picks for this year. They still have two first-round picks and now have two third-round picks. They retain five picks in the top 101 selections, but they’ve also prolonged premium pick value over the next two years.

Mike Kaye gives the Eagles an A+ grade for the trade, but it’s still a puzzle to me without a guaranteed solution.

As for the Saints? While it’s easy for Mike Kaye to love this trade for the Eagles, the Saints have actually made their prospects for this draft more appealing. If they love a QB in this draft, they could easily climb into the top 10 and snag that signal-caller. If they are looking to rework their depleted secondary or wideout groups, they can find premium talent at 16 and 19.

Yes, the Saints are giving up a lot for immediate satisfaction, but there’s also reason to believe that they want to finally get off the cap-hell merry-go-round that is their current payroll outlook. Adding two premium players, or perhaps a promising QB prospect, to the mix could help alleviate the constant need to rework the cap with big contracts every year. Instead of kicking the can down the road, the Saints are looking to develop down the road.

This draft season, EYE will tend to be more concerned with world events anyway. Somehow the amateur drafts in any professional sport seem less relevant at the moment.