A week ago, Chip Kelly was asked if he would trade Mark Sanchez because teams are looking for veteran quarterbacks, and Mark Sanchez has played so well in the preseason games. Surprisingly, Kelly answered the question.
"Good question because Mark has played well," said Kelly, "but we haven't had anybody call and ask us anything, so that's not something we're talking about.
"But we're really happy about him. I feel very, very confident in our quarterback situation, probably better than a lot of teams in this league going into it because I think we have two guys right now that have actually played in games. That's, I think, Mark has 68 games under his resume and is playing at a really high level right now. Obviously, Nick coming off an outstanding season last year, so we feel really confident. But I'm also a big guy that you better have two quarterbacks in this league. So unless something blows you out of the water, we're really confident with Mark coming in and starting a game for the Eagles."
On Sunday it was revealed that Rams QB Sam Bradford tore his ACL and is out for the season. The immediate reaction was whether or not it would make sense to trade Sanchez to the Rams.
Let's take a look at the Eagles' backup QB situation, and whether or not a trade seems feasible.
While Sanchez has appeared to have a solid command of the Eagles' offense, he considers himself an unfinished product. "I'm still learning a lot," said Sanchez after the third preseason game against the Steelers. "There are still a lot of things going on, and I'm trying to get everything down, so I still have a long way to go."
And yet, the Eagles are sitting Sanchez in the 4th preseason game.
"I think we feel comfortable in what Mark Sanchez has done in the first three games," said Kelly when asked who would play in the final preseason game. "So both Nick and Mark will be out in that game. We want to see Matt (Barkley) play for an extended period of time. I know Matt's gotten in there into the twos, some three work. I think he's done a really nice job. But we kind of thought about it as a staff, I think Mark is 25 of 31 and has led us on a lot of scoring drives. We feel very comfortable with our one and two quarterbacks. So we're going to give Matt a really extended look against the Jets on Thursday night."
In other words, Sanchez still has a long way to go in learning a new offense, and the Eagles are still keeping him out of a preseason game to ensure he stays healthy. That should tell you all you need to know about how much they value him this season.
When Chip Kelly was asked a question about whether or not DE Brandon Bair's age (he's 29) would work against him in making the roster over a younger player, Kelly said he wants to win now.
"My concern is the season. So I think if he continues to put himself in positions to play, then our focus with those guys is what's going to help us immediately. We're not building for the future. Our future is right now."
The last thing an NFL coach wants to do is relay a message that the team is building for the future. If he's not in it to win now, why should the players risk bodily harm for a team the coach has acknowledged can't win?
Still, does anyone think Kelly isn't in it to win right now? Does anyone think that Kelly thinks he can't win now?
According to a #3 QB study by Dave Mangels published during the season last year, 67 third string quarterbacks were forced to start a game from 2008 to 2012. As you might expect, the combined stats for those QBs were not pretty:
Matt Barkley currently looks like a #3 QB. If the Eagles were to lose Nick Foles for an extended period of time and they didn't have Sanchez around to back him up, it's a potential season killer.
Compensation would have to be really attractive to even think about trading Sanchez. Something like, oh, say a third round pick... ain't getting it done.
The logic behind pairing Mark Sanchez with the Rams makes some sense.
Plus, the Rams' offensive coordinator is Brian Schottenheimer, who Sanchez played for in New York, so learning a new offense would not be as much of an issue.
However, while the Rams are an up and coming team, they're still probably the 4th best team in their division, and their general manager, Les Snead, is a draft pick hoarder. Since Snead became the Rams GM in 2012, only the 49ers, Seahawks, and Vikings have made more picks than the Rams.
If you're a team like the Rams, who are not going to realistically compete for a Super Bowl, are you really trading something in the ballpark of a second round pick for a soon to be 28 year old backup QB who is set to become a free agent after the season?
That would certainly make more sense.
Nick Foles is only 25 years old, which should give the Eagles less incentive to want a younger developmental QB on the roster behind him. If this were 2009 and a 32 year old Donovan McNabb were your QB, it would be more appealing to keep a guy like Barkley around to try to develop into a starting caliber QB. But with a young, promising QB in Foles and a capable vet in Sanchez in place, Barkley's value to the Eagles isn't all that great.
In 2013, as long as both Nick Foles and Michael Vick were healthy, Matt Barkley remained on the inactive list on game day. If the Eagles had an offer for Barkley and felt like GJ Kinne was at least close enough to Barkley right now in terms of being able to win a game in a pinch, they could opt to only keep two quarterbacks on their 53 man roster, with Kinne on the practice squad. If Foles or Sanchez were injured, they could bring Kinne up to the active roster.
The important question here would be... How close are Barkley and Kinne? That's for the Eagles to decide.
In 2012, had Barkley declared for the draft after his junior year, most draft pundits had him as a surefire first round pick, possibly even top five overall. Barkley instead stayed at USC for his senior season, had a down year, and injured his shoulder.
In 2013, Barkley was the first pick in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. In his year+ in the league, Barkley has not done anything to suggest he should have been taken higher, and simple logic might suggest that any team interested in Barkley shouldn't have to give up more than the fourth round pick the Eagles used to draft him. However, there is evidence that other teams around the league had significant interest in Barkley in the 2013 draft, despite where he was selected. For example:
• The Cowboys had Matt Barkley rated as the 31st player in the 2013 draft, according to a blog post at Bloggingtheboys.com, who pieced together the Cowboys' draft board from pictures taken in the Cowboys war room on the day of the draft.
• There were also reports that the Raiders would have taken Barkley with the third pick in the fourth round if the Eagles hadn't traded up ahead of them. Here's what Len Pasquarelli of the National Football Post wrote at the time:
Although he fell down draft boards, and was only the fourth quarterback selected in April, there remain some talent evaluators who still suggest that Barkley could be the best quarterback, over the long haul, from the 2013 class. By the way, the Oakland Raiders were of such a mind, and planned to jump on Barkley with their fourth round pick, before Philly took him with the first selection in the stanza. The Raiders then opted for a fallback, Tyler Wilson of Arkansas.
Are there still teams around the league that think they can develop Barkley into a starting-caliber QB? If so, Barkley may still have some trade value yet.
Since 2010, the Eagles have traded 23 players: David Fluellen, Bryce Brown, Isaac Sopoaga, Felix Jones, Nate Menkin, Dion Lewis, Stanley Havili, Moise Fokou, Greg Lloyd, D.J. Johnson, Asante Samuel, Winston Justice, Brodrick Bunkley, Kevin Kolb, Stacy Andrews, Tracy White, Charles Scott, Joe Mays, Donovan McNabb, Sheldon Brown, Chris Gocong, Chris Clemons, and Reggie Brown.
That is an extraordinarily high number in a league where trades aren't as common as they are other sports. The Eagles wheel and deal.
Unless some team out there blows the Eagles away with a great offer, which isn't happening, they will not be trading Mark Sanchez. However, there's a pretty good bet that they'd seriously entertain any offers involving Matt Barkley.
Barkley will be starting the fourth and final preseason game against the Jets on Friday night. He is expected to get extensive action in that game. Perhaps the Eagles are showcasing him.