The Eagles went through the opening day of the NFL draft like an organization with a few worries here and there, perhaps, but nothing so pressing that the offer of an attractive draft pick next year wouldn't grab their attention.
That's exactly what happened when the Carolina Panthers called yesterday afternoon as the Eagles were on the clock for the 19th pick. Offensive tackle Jeff Otah of Pitt was right there in front of them, just the sort of player who could provide insurance in the event that veteran starters Jon Runyan or Tra Thomas become injured or in the event that presumptive replacement Winston Justice remains healthy.
It wouldn't have been sexy. It wouldn't have been the stuff of fireworks, but it would have been a reasonable selection. If the phone doesn't ring, in all likelihood, Otah would have been the guy.
But the phone rang. Carolina wanted the 19th pick - and, not coincidentally, wanted Otah - and was willing to part with its first-rounder in 2009, and a second-round and a fourth-round pick this year.
"The deal we received was too good to turn down," head coach Andy Reid said, and for the second straight year the Eagles traded themselves out of the first round.
The way Reid scouted this draft, there were a few guys worth getting really excited about, worth moving up to acquire, if possible, but, after that, just a mass of players who were pretty much the same. He looked at the second round as a lengthy extension of the first in some ways, and at the middle rounds as a fertile area where some finds can be made.
"I don't think, when you look at the first round in particular, there were a large number of players that you consider these great players that you come into these other drafts with. I think they were good, solid football players," Reid said. "I think the whole draft there are some solid football players the whole way through, and that's how we evaluated it. "
So they took the deal, which might not have pleased the headline writers or the fans who scream for something more substantive, but that was the team's decision. Just to make sure you didn't miss the point, they traded down in the second round as well, for the bonus of swapping a fifth-rounder today to get a fourth-rounder.
Was all of it right? Check back in about two years. Or at least wait and see what the Eagles do today with the nine picks they have left. Wait and see if they make some trades. Wait and see what happens in the free-agent market. Wait until the season is less than four months away.
Anyone who tells you with certainty how the Eagles did yesterday is guessing, and that includes Reid and the whole organization. They did what they did, and the crops won't be coming up for a while.
"I can't sit up here and boast at all," Reid said, just after the Eagles used their two second-round picks to take defensive tackle Trevor Laws and receiver-returner DeSean Jackson.
He was speaking specifically about how Jackson would do returning punts and kickoffs for the Eagles. Jackson returned six punts for touchdowns in his three seasons at the University of California. The Eagles could use that kind of production in the return game. To be honest, they can use any kind of production in the return game.
But Reid knows that the Pac-10 isn't the NFL, and that previous players taken for their special-teams potential didn't necessarily work out. (Jeremy Bloom, anyone? )
"I've sat up here before and mentioned a couple people who I thought would help us on special teams, but I kind of want to see this one before I say anything," Reid said. "Hopefully, he'll help us out. That's the intention. "
Yes, it is, but you can never be sure. And there are many twists left between now and the start of the regular season. Lito Sheppard is still being dangled as trade bait - perhaps for a veteran lineman or another wide receiver - but he could just as easily remain on the team. You don't know, I don't know, and the Eagles don't know.
What is fascinating, though, is that the Eagles didn't seem particularly frantic or rushed yesterday. They didn't draft like an 8-8 team, which are the numbers that hang stubbornly next to their name. They drafted like a team that needs a piece here and there, but little more.
And when a sort of mediocre team like the Panthers offers up a first-rounder for next year, well, that could turn into something meaningful. Of course, the Panthers were 7-9 last season, not that different from the Eagles, but that's not the way the Eagles view it. From their point of view, last season was some unexpected turbulence that called for a minor course correction, not a new flight plan.
That's the way they drafted. Trade out of the first round? No problem. Move down in the second? You bet.