ATLANTIC CITY - We're all about the page views these days, so this story probably should say that MARCUS MARIOTA DID NOT DENY HE REMAINS IN CONTACT WITH CHIP KELLY when Mariota appeared at the Maxwell Awards news conference yesterday.
Even more shocking, when asked, MARIOTA CONFIRMED THAT IT REMAINS THEORETICALLY POSSIBLE THE EAGLES WILL STILL ATTEMPT TO ACQUIRE HIM!
Furthermore, the Daily News has learned that the large body of water located on the other side of the boardwalk from the Tropicana Hotel and Casino WOULD SEEM TO BE THE ATLANTIC OCEAN.
The ocean was calm yesterday, much like speculation about Oregon quarterback Mariota and the Eagles, in the wake of Kelly's statements this week about being philosophically opposed to expending the resources it would take to move near the top of the draft.
The Eagles seem to have gone in a different direction, trading Nick Foles to St. Louis for Sam Bradford, with whom they apparently are trying to work out a contract extension. To be sure, Kelly has not ruled out drafting Mariota if the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award winner slips to the Birds' 20th overall slot in the first round. He hasn't even ruled out trading up just a little bit for him, if Mariota were to get close to 20.
But those scenarios seem implausible. Mariota is headed to Tampa on Monday to meet with the Buccaneers, who pick first overall. They are expected to take Mariota or Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston in the April 30 draft. Tennessee, picking second, very well might also be in the market for a QB.
In Atlantic City, Mariota revealed that if he had a choice of where to play, he would choose "anywhere that wants me."
No particular city? Say, oh, I dunno, one with a cracked bell and a football coach who talks really fast, if not often?
"Not at all."
Is there any way he thinks he could end up with the Eagles?
"I wouldn't doubt it, but coach Kelly and the Eagles are going to do what's best for that team, and we'll see what happens," Mariota said.
Kelly "checks in on me and sees how I'm doing," he said.
Mariota said he had heard about Kelly's statements, regarding mortgaging the future to acquire him. That was the extent of his reaction.
Mariota, who was grilled extensively about the Eagles and Kelly at last month's NFL Scouting Combine, doesn't seem to spend a lot of time analyzing what the Birds are doing, or, if he does, he does a good job of disguising it. He said he supposes Bradford will do fine, if that's the Eagles' plan.
Of course, Mariota knows many of the ex-Ducks who play for the Eagles; he said he's close friends with wideout Josh Huff, last year's third-round rookie. (If you're keeping score at home, there are eight EagleDucks at the moment, with another, Jeff Maehl in unsigned exclusive-rights free-agent limbo. Casey Matthews is off the ledger, a plain, old free agent; his number already given away to fellow ex-Duck Kiko Alonso.)
Does Huff joke with Mariota about coming to the Eagles?
"Of course, I think everybody jokes with me about it," Mariota said.
Mariota flew overnight from Oregon after his pro day, which, by many accounts, was not stellar, though NFL teams say they really don't pay much attention to scripted workouts, unless the QB cuts it short and grabs his shoulder, or something.
"It went OK. I missed some throws. It was just one of those days," Mariota said.
Also part of the news conference was Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, who said afterward he agreed with Kelly, that in the modern NFL, giving up a huge draft haul for one player is a ruinous strategy.
"It would be so hard to get there," said Arians, a former Temple coach. "You'd have to give up your whole draft. It's so hard to do that - the salary cap will kill you" if you can't build your roster around recent draft picks.
Arians said he liked Kelly's move to bring in Bradford.
"I think Sam's an outstanding player. Just had some bad luck," Arians said. Arians is the Maxwell Club's Greasy Neale Award winner as pro football Coach of the Year. "The only time we've lost to the Rams, Sam was playing. It was my first game with the Cardinals. I think Chip [Kelly] has a great plan, and it's awesome that he's following what he believes in."
Former Eagles safety Nate Allen signed a reported 4-year, $23 million free agent contract with the Raiders yesterday, $11.8 million guaranteed . . . Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen was at the Maxwell Awards as the George Munger winner for being college coach of the year. The Ursinus product, who was born in Drexel Hill, coached Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox, and said he enjoyed it. "Just a phenomenal athlete, unbelievable attitude, great kid," Mullen said. "I think he's going to continue to develop," the Eagles having drafted him as a 21-year-old in 2012. "He focus, his work ethic, his seriousness about the game" stood out, Mullen said.