Good morning, Eagles fans. The season has been saved! Hallelujah! Well, that may be a stretch. But the Eagles, in beating the Bills on Sunday, avoided falling to 3-5, which would have put them in a likely position of NFC East title or bust. They’re still unlikely to have enough to contend for a wild-card spot, but a 4-4 mark at the halfway point is nowhere near a deal breaker.
Speaking of deals, the Eagles made just one trade before Tuesday’s deadline. Considering how difficult it has historically been to pull off trades in the NFL, it shouldn’t come as much of surprise that they weren’t able to acquire more than just a reserve defensive end. But fans wanted more. I’ll explain further down why the Eagles probably stood pat.
The Eagles have one more game before the bye week. They’ll host the 3-4 Bears, who have already lost as many games as they did last season. The Birds would love to go into the break with a two-game winning streak. They lost two after hitting the midway point at .500 last season. If they were to lose to Chicago, a 4-5 mark with a week to stew before the Patriots and Seahawks come to town wouldn’t be ideal.
Practice resumes Wednesday and the Eagles should be getting a few key players back from injury, especially wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who has missed six games with an abdominal strain.
— Jeff McLane (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The NFL’s trade deadline came and went Tuesday afternoon and the Eagles made one move of consequence, acquiring defensive end Genard Avery from the Browns for a 2021 fourth-round draft pick Monday.
Of consequence is a relative phrase because many fans, judging from social media, online comment sections and talk radio were upset when the Eagles didn’t make any additional trades. Hey, at least they did something.
There were 11 NFL teams who didn’t make trades during this season before the deadline. And of 22 who did, only the Rams (4), Raiders (3), Dolphins (3), Patriots (2) and Browns (2) made more than one move. All told, there were 15 trades, which is significantly more than the norm.
But the increased movement and general manager Howie Roseman’s penchant for making splash trades upped fan expectations, especially considering the help the Eagles need on their roster if they are to make a postseason run.
The Eagles were involved in talks for several players. Their interest in cornerback Jalen Ramsey has already been reported. They had conversations with the Broncos about veteran cornerback Chris Harris, an NFL source said. And there were likely other players discussed. But Roseman likely deemed the asking prices as too high.
He also has to look at his players returning from injuries. The Eagles recently got cornerbacks Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby back, and Avonte Maddox and Cre’Von LeBlanc should also return soon. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson is finally expected back from an abdominal strain. And defensive tackle Tim Jernigan is nearing a return from a foot injury.
Cornerback, receiver and defensive tackle were the most likely positions to be addressed. The Eagles have to also look to their future. They can’t just keep mortgaging draft picks for the present. Roseman’s drafts need to be better, and an argument could be made for bringing in a proven NFL talent. But the salary cap makes it imperative that you hit on your own picks.
NFL trades have historically been uncommon, especially compared to other professional sports leagues. Roseman has been among the most active since he became GM in 2010, but even he mostly sat on his hands around trade deadline time. From 2010-16, the Eagles made only two in-season trades — swapping running backs Mike Bell and Jerome Harrison in 2010, and dealing defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga to the Patriots in 2013.
Roseman’s most successful deadline trade came in 2017 when he sent a fourth-round pick to the Dolphins for Jay Ajayi. The running back was instrumental in the Eagles’ run to the Super Bowl. A year later, Roseman sent a third-round pick to the Lions for receiver Golden Tate. But the Eagles found it difficult to assimilate Tate into their offense, and did so at the expense of Nelson Agholor.
Some fans had hoped the Eagles would trade away Agholor, cornerback Sidney Jones and several underperforming players. But tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai was really the only name to garner interest on the market. The Eagles had been dangling defensive end Vinny Curry, league sources said, but few teams were interested.
Avery may not have an immediate impact, but he could be another building block for 2020 and beyond. It’s possible to play for the now without forgetting about the future.
What would a Jordan Howard extension cost mid-season? — @DKane1012 (Danny) via Twitter
Danny, this is a good question because there was absolutely no way I would have entertained the notion several months ago when the Eagles traded for Howard. He was strictly viewed as a contract-year acquisition, one who would be permitted to enter free agency next offseason.
That still may be the case, especially considering Howard’s position. But the fourth-year running back has been a pleasant surprise — maybe not to the Eagles, but I think to many this season.
Howard has rushed 100 times for 443 yards (4.3 average) and five touchdowns. Receiving has never been his strong suit, but even with rookie Miles Sanders featured in the passing game, Howard has 9 catches for 68 yards and a touchdown. He’s also done pretty well picking up blitzes in the backfield.
As for Howard’s possible future with the Eagles, it probably wouldn’t cost a significant amount to extend him, but I doubt the team would do so now. I’m also not sure it would in his best interest to agree to anything. He’s still only 24 and if he maintains his statistical pace, he could get a pretty good deal on the open market next offseason.