Who knew the Eagles were going to try to recreate the Andy Reid era in such detail?
New coach Doug Pederson will get the same chance his mentor got, to select his era-defining quarterback with the second overall pick in the NFL draft on April 28, following Wednesday's trade with the Cleveland Browns.
In case you somehow haven't heard, the Eagles sent Cleveland the eighth overall pick, acquired earlier from the Dolphins, along with the first of their two third-round picks this season (77th overall), a fourth-round pick (100th overall), a first-round pick in 2017 and a second-rounder in 2018, for second overall this year and a fourth-rounder next year.
The upshot seems to be that Howie Roseman and Pederson are staking their jobs and the franchise's future on the right arm of North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz.
This will be the highest the Eagles have drafted since 1999, when they selected Donovan McNabb as the second overall pick, to be mentored by then-QB Pederson. Roseman acknowledged that the Reid template of the coach getting the young quarterback he wants as he starts his tenure was important to Pederson, who has spoken highly of Wentz.
Eagles chairman Jeffrey Lurie evoked the Reid era repeatedly in explaining the kind of coach and overall setup he wanted after he fired Chip Kelly. Then Lurie and Roseman hired Pederson, the Kansas City offensive coordinator endorsed by Reid, now the Chiefs' coach.
Officially, the Eagles like both Wentz and Cal's Jared Goff, and will be fine with whichever QB the Rams don't take first overall; Roseman called the choice "vanilla or chocolate . . . pepperoni pizza or sausage. What do you like better?"
He said he likes vanilla and chocolate, and that a team couldn't make such a trade without being "very comfortable with both those quarterbacks, and believe that they have a shot to be great, to be Pro Bowl-caliber."
But Roseman, speaking to a hastily assembled news conference in the NovaCare auditorium Wednesday afternoon, indicated at another point that the Eagles do know which quarterback they will get and said reporters could "connect the dots." This week, insiders have been pretty much unanimous that Goff is the Rams' choice to lead their team back into the Los Angeles market.
Wentz, 6-5, 237, led the Bison to victory in the Football Championship Subdivision title game after missing the previous eight games with a broken wrist. His draft-stock rise has been meteoric since Senior Bowl week, when Wentz showed he could play with and against top competition. But Wentz started just 23 college games, and many evaluators think he will need at least a year of seasoning to adjust to the NFL before starting.
Roseman said he wanted to make it clear that Sam Bradford, slated to make $18 million this season, will be the Eagles' 2016 starter. He said he will not trade Bradford, and that he expects this year's team to be competitive.
Roseman said he, Lurie and Pederson met with Bradford to inform him of the trade before the team went onto the field for Wednesday's minicamp session. Bradford was not available to reporters.
"He's a pro," Roseman said of Bradford. "I have no concerns about Sam's professionalism and his competitiveness."
On Tuesday, Bradford spoke about the potential for such a move; he said he had no control over it. "If it happens, then it's something that I'll deal with when it happens. But if it doesn't happen, then there's really not a lot of sense in wasting time and thought and energy on that," he said.
Wednesday evening, though, ESPN's Adam Schefter quoted a source who said Bradford was "mad and wants to show everyone who's best."
Certainly, the 2016 season changed Wednesday for Bradford and for the Eagles. Bradford now faces a locker room that knows he is a placeholder; he knows he is a placeholder. And as Bradford and the Eagles navigate their schedule this season, with Wentz (or Goff) presumably on the sideline wearing a headset, will it be hard not to think of how the eighth and 77th picks in this draft might have provided difference-makers at other positions?
"I really try and leave that up to the front office," center Jason Kelce said Wednesday. Kelce and other players spoke before the trade was announced, but after reports surfaced over the past few days that a moveup might be coming. "I think they've done an outstanding job so far with this team, through free agency."
Kelce said he thinks the offensive line was strengthened with the addition of Brandon Brooks and Stefen Wisniewski. He expects more depth to arrive through the draft, at some point.
Safety Malcolm Jenkins said having a franchise quarterback in waiting behind Bradford wouldn't make him think any differently toward the incumbent.
"Everybody in here has somebody 'in waiting' behind them," he said. "That's just how the league works. I don't think it would change anything."
"I think Sam is going to be who Sam is," tight end Brent Celek said. "He's a great quarterback, a good leader for this team, and I don't think anything will change that."
"You would think it would be a Brett Favre-Aaron Rodgers situation," tight end Zach Ertz said, when asked how he would envision the dynamic. Rodgers spent three seasons as Favre's backup before taking over in 2008. "Not saying that either of those guys are at those levels, but that's kind of the ideal situation - wait three or four years and have 'em play after that. No one was second-guessing (Favre's) leadership, and I don't think anyone's second-guessing Sam's leadership, no matter who they bring in."
"It's hard to be great if you don't take some risks," Roseman said, before he too invoked Favre and Rodgers, among other QB duos.
"It's a great opportunity for someone who not only has the coaching that we have here, and the support we have here, but the time - the benefit of time. We saw that with Doug being here, with Donovan. You saw that in Green Bay. You saw that in San Diego, with Philip Rivers (and Drew Brees). You certainly saw that in New England (with Drew Bledsoe) and Tom Brady. The benefit of sitting and watching and observing. These are young guys. The National Football League is a big jump, from any level . . . We're not positioned where anyone has to come in and play this year, (or) conceivably next year."
Bradford, 28, is playing under a two-year, $35 million contract. If he does stay healthy and play well in 2016, the Eagles can either let Wentz sit another season or try to trade Bradford, perhaps recouping a pick or two.
Roseman called the haul sent to the Browns "a hard pill to swallow . . . a tough price to pay," but he said spreading the picks sent to Cleveland over three years allows him to "prepare for the loss." He stressed the "great degree of research" that went into it, and said it was essential the Eagles retain their other third-round pick this season, 79th overall.
"It was important for us to come out of Friday (April 29, when second- and third-round selections will be made) with a player we thought can help us . . . we felt like we had a chance to get a player who can come in and contribute to our team. The strength of this draft matches some of the things that we're looking for. Not that we'll draft for need, but it kind of matches up for where we have guys slotted."
Roseman said one of the things he studied during his one-year exile from personnel at the hands of Chip Kelly was "what are the keys to winning? . . . It's quarterbacks."
The Eagles tried to pry the top pick away from the Titans before they sold it to the Rams last week. Roseman said Wednesday's deal was the culmination of about three weeks of talks with the Browns.
At one point it seemed the Eagles, lacking a second-round pick this season after trading for Bradford in 2015, might wait and use one of their third-round picks on a developmental QB. But Roseman didn't talk up that scenario when he previewed the draft with reporters on Monday, and he reiterated his skepticism there on Wednesday.
"You can't invent one," Roseman said. "When you look at the history of it, there's not a large history of guys in the third, fourth, fifth round who end up being guys who give you the ability to compete for championships year after year.
"We look at it as investing in the quarterback position."
Reaction around the league seemed mixed. Some observers felt the Eagles gave up too much, others said that a franchise QB is worth almost any price.
An AFC personnel evaluator contacted by the Daily News said his surprise was that Cleveland was willing to pass on drafting one of the top two QBs.
"It's a quarterback league . . . There are only one or two real prospects each year, and you only have small windows to get them. It's very difficult," he said. "I would have taken the QB."