Eagles need to draft a quarterback
YOU KNOW the old saying: You can never be too rich, or have too many capable quarterbacks. Howie Roseman opened the vault and gave rookie head coach Doug Pederson his two preferred passers. Sam Bradford agreed to a 2-year, $36 million contract. Chase Daniel, the backup in Kansas City when Pederson was the coordinator, signed for 3 years and $21 million.
YOU KNOW the old saying:
You can never be too rich, or have too many capable quarterbacks.
Howie Roseman opened the vault and gave rookie head coach Doug Pederson his two preferred passers. Sam Bradford agreed to a 2-year, $36 million contract. Chase Daniel, the backup in Kansas City when Pederson was the coordinator, signed for 3 years and $21 million.
With that sort of investment in two healthy veterans, the Eagles should just sign, oh, Josh Freeman and be done with it. Right?
The Eagles should attend every quarterback's Pro Day. Their QB vanguard - Pederson, offensive coordinator Frank Reich and QB coach John DeFilippo, all former quarterbacks - should invite every kid with a wing to work out in Philadelphia, decide who's best, then draft him.
They have four picks among the top 100. One of them has to be a thrower.
Let's face it: Neither Bradford nor Daniel is close to a sure bet.
Bradford is their best gamble, but that's all. It took him half a season to digest Chip Kelly's offense, and that was with a personal tutor. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur was Bradford's coordinator as a rookie with the Rams. How long will it take before Bradford can run the first offense Pederson has ever developed?
As for Daniel: He's a 6-foot clipboard jockey who will be 30 in October. Undrafted out of Missouri, unemployed his first year out of college, Daniel has thrown 77 passes in six NFL seasons, including two last season. The only reason he's wearing green is because he will serve as an extra assistant, as Pederson did for Andy Reid in 1999.
Besides, both of those contracts offer the Eagles an escape.
Daniel essentially has a 2-year, $14 million deal - sweet backup money, but nothing egregious. None of his third year's $7 million salary is guaranteed and releasing or trading him would carry a manageable $1 million cap hit.
Bradford is a little costlier, and a little trickier. Two years is just about the right amount of time for a young passer to percolate.
If the Eagles draft a quarterback next month and he somehow becomes the starter, or if some other scenario arises in which the Birds don't want Bradford for 2017, there is hope for relief. If they can find a willing partner, trading Bradford would count $5.5 million against their 2017 cap, whereas retaining him would count $22.5 million against the cap. That sort of number in a contract year almost always means that the sides renegotiate.
A trade would mean that Bradford somehow warranted eviction and some team would be willing to pay the $17 million in take-home pay he will be owed. Perhaps Bradford could play well enough early, get injured and get Wally Pipped. Then, an unlikely backup shines and makes Bradford superfluous.
That never happens, right? It did with Tom Brady. Bill Belichick drafted Brady in the sixth round when Drew Bledsoe was in his prime, and has won four Super Bowls with him.
Mike Shanahan, who has two rings as a head coach and another as a coordinator, drafted Kirk Cousins three rounds after Washington took Robert Griffin III second overall.
The Packers took Aaron Rodgers with the 24th overall pick while still employing the toughest quarterback in history. After a three-year wait to ascend, Rodgers won them a Super Bowl.
Only fools don't stockpile quality quarterbacks.
Sure, it's tough to digest that the Eagles just committed as much as $57 million on two quarterbacks who have never won a playoff game and that they might use their No. 8 pick on a project like Paxton Lynch.
This might make it easier to swallow: When the Pack drafted Rodgers, Brett Favre was better at 36 than Bradford has proven to be at 28.
The philosophy is sound, if risky, especially considering who is doing the drafting.
To varying degrees King Howie was part of the front offices that drafted a raft of quarterback disappointments in the first four rounds: Kevin Kolb (second round, 2007); Mike Kafka (fourth round, 2010); Nick Foles, (third round, 2012); Matt Barkley (fourth round, 2013).
But past failures cannot preclude a sound strategy. NFL analyst Mike Mayock said last month that his philosophy is to draft a quarterback every other year. By that measure the Birds are a year overdue. This year provides them a bumper crop of developmental enticements: Lynch, if they take a QB early, or Jared Goff, if he falls; then, in no particular order: Dak Prescott, Kevin Hogan, Christian Hackenberg, even Cardale Jones. Connor Cook seems a little flighty, but Archie Griffin forgave him a snub and seemed impressed.
It hasn't just been the Eagles who have wasted picks on passers. Plenty of teams have their personal Kevin Kolb: Jake Locker in Tennessee, E.J. Manuel in Buffalo, Blaine Gabbert in Jacksonville and Cleveland's disastrous duo, Brandon Weeden and Johnny Manziel.
Consider, however, that the Broncos drafted Brock Osweiler in 2012 with a second-round pick just one month after they signed Peyton Manning. Osweiler sat for three years, but he saved the Broncos' Super Bowl season with a 5-2 record as a starter.
The Broncos beat the Patriots to get there, denying Brady a fifth ring and his second in a row.
Two years prior, the Broncos lost to the Seahawks and Russell Wilson, a third-rounder in his second season, who went to the Super Bowl the next year, too.
Nobody touted Osweiler and Wilson, the fifth and sixth quarterbacks taken in 2012, the month before their drafts. Brady went seventh among QBs in 2000, 44 spots lower than A.J. Feeley did in 2001. Yes, A.J. Feeley.
Osweiler, Wilson and Brady all were drafted as insurance.
Come to think of it, you can never have too much of that, either.