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Eagles trade deadline preview: What Howie Roseman could do | Jeff McLane

Le'Veon Bell? Amari Cooper? Who could the Eagles potentially target this trade deadline?

Eagles' GM Howie Roseman talks as he walks across the field at the Philadelphia Eagles training camp at the NovaCare complex in Philadelphia, PA on July 31, 2018. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Eagles' GM Howie Roseman talks as he walks across the field at the Philadelphia Eagles training camp at the NovaCare complex in Philadelphia, PA on July 31, 2018. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff PhotographerRead moreDAVID MAIALETTI

We all we got, we all we need.

The Eagles didn't coin the phrase, especially among sports teams, but it became their mantra during the 2017 season. The "we all we got" started the year before. The "we all we need" was added when quarterback Carson Wentz was lost for the season in December.

A year later, the saying, particularly the latter half, could be applied to how the Eagles locker room views itself in the face of the looming NFL trade deadline.

"If you look on the outside that means you're not focused on the family, your brothers that are here with you every day at practice,"  running back Corey Clement said. "It's almost like – not disrespectful to look for something on the outside – but don't overlook the good talent that we already have in this room."

In most years, the Eagles stand pat. They aren't alone. A lot of ink, air time, and Internet space will be spent on the topic. But when it's time to pull the trigger, few NFL teams have before the deadline. The salary cap, the intricacies of schemes, and a reluctance to part with draft picks are the reasons often cited for the relative inactivity.

But the Eagles got in on the action when they acquired running back Jay Ajayi in exchange for a fourth-round pick last year. And with the team beset by injuries again this year, and their postseason aspirations still alive, there is as much reason to believe that  top executive Howie Roseman will pull off another trade.

At the very least, he's gauging interest around the league before the deadline of 4 p.m. Oct. 30.

"It's something that definitely we'll take a look at," coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday. "We're constantly looking to add value, add talent if we can. Something Howie and [vice president of player personnel] Joe [Douglas] and the guys are constantly aware of and monitoring."

The best indication that the Eagles were taking more than just a cursory look at teams trying to unload talent came on Oct. 8, when ESPN reported that the team had restructured defensive tackle Fletcher Cox's contract to create $6.5 million in cap space this season and $11.7 million next season.

The report came before the restructuring had even been filed to the NFL office, suggesting that whoever leaked the information wanted it out for a reason, likely to let the rest of the league know that the Eagles were open for business.

But that doesn't necessarily mean something will get done. From 2012 to 2015, for instance, just five deals were made before the deadline. Carson Wentz may be privately dreaming of tossing touchdown passes to, say, Amari Cooper, but it would be wasted energy, especially when he has little say in the matter.

"I feel extremely confident with who we have," Wentz said. "Love those guys. We're all going to battle every day with each other, for each other. I love this team and where we're at."

But the Eagles are 3-3 and they have shortages at Cooper's position of wide receiver, running back, defensive tackle, and defensive back. Reinforcements are coming, but it's unclear who among the injured will be cleared and when.

Running Back

Jay Ajayi  is done for the season after tearing the ACL in his knee two weeks ago. On paper, running back would seem the most obvious position to address. Ajayi was the lead carrier and Darren Sproles has missed five games with a hamstring injury and has already been ruled out for Sunday against the Panthers.

>> READ MORE: Corey Clement on the run to keep his Eagles job | Bob Ford

But the difference between  the Eagles' running back numbers with Ajayi in four games (77 carries for 343 yards and a 4.4 average) and  the two without (61 for 236 and 3.9) has been negligible. Clement, Wendell Smallwood, and rookie Josh Adams may not have extensive track records – and may not be the best at picking up the blitz — but with Sproles' return on the horizon, the foursome may be enough.

"We don't need anything," Smallwood said. "We're not waiting for anything, we're not looking for anything to boost us. We know we can get the job done."

Sproles' season-ending ACL injury last September propelled Roseman to trade for Ajayi, but it wasn't as if the Eagles' ground game was struggling at the deadline. If there's an opportunity to upgrade the position, and it makes sense in terms of the cap, compensation and the future, the trade-happy general manager won't back off.

"I would never be against it," said Smallwood, who was the odd man out after the Ajayi acquisition. "But I just believe it's going to drive the competition up between [a new running back], between us, and that's how it's always been when another comes in the room."

One running back is already off the market. The Browns traded Carlos Hyde to the Jaguars, whom the Eagles will face next week in London, for a fifth-round pick.

The great white of running backs would be Le'Veon Bell, who remains a holdout in Pittsburgh. The Steelers would likely want a least a second-round pick in exchange for Bell. But with the 26-year-old slated to become a free agent next offseason, that would be a steep price, even if the Eagles were to let him walk knowing they could get a sizeable compensatory pick in 2020.

LeSean McCoy wouldn't cost as much, despite reports that the Bills would want a least a second-rounder in return. A fourth or fifth would likely get it done for the 30-year-old former Eagle. But McCoy is clearly not the player he once was, even considering his surrounding cast, and he has about $14 million in cap dollars left on his contract through 2019.

The dismal 1-6 Cardinals will be shopping some of their more expensive furniture, but David Johnson is unlikely to be on the market. For one, he just signed a three-year contract. And two, Arizona fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Friday, in part for not finding ways to utilize Johnson.

Wide Receiver

Mike Wallace was signed to replace Torrey Smith as the Eagles' deep ball threat. But he broke his fibula in Week 2 and was placed on injured reserve. Mack Hollins was supposed to compete for time on the outside, but he went on IR with a groin injury before the season.

Both players, theoretically, could return before the end of the season. The Eagles can designate two for return eight weeks after they were originally placed on IR. Their recoveries could affect how the Eagles view their receiver depth.

"We're not at that point yet with them," Pederson said. "They're progressing nicely through their rehabs."

The Week 4 return of Alshon Jeffery and the bringing in of Jordan Matthews in Week 3 has allayed some of the concern at receiver, but neither is exactly a long-ball specialist. Slot receiver Nelson Agholor has that ability, but he's better used in the slot than on the outside.

The Eagles have actually completed a higher rate of passes over 20 yards through six games this season (8 of 25) than last (7 of 25). But some of those completions have come on busted plays rather than routes in which receivers have gotten over a defense.

Pederson said that he has the horses in-house. Shelton Gibson was billed as a deep threat when the Eagles drafted him two years ago, but a 48-yard catch earlier this season – one he came back for — has been the only regular-season evidence.

"It's not the only thing I can do," Gibson said.

>> READ MORE: Our beat writers predict the winner of the Eagles-Panthers game

If the Eagles were to procure a receiver, it would probably have to be a notable talent, especially with either Wallace or Hollins, or both, likely to return at some point. The Eagles don't have an obvious outside complement to Jeffery, and Cooper would make sense on multiple levels.

The former fourth overall pick is only 24 and still on his rookie contract. The Raiders are reportedly willing to listen to offers with new coach Jon Gruden seemingly ready to discard any player who predated his arrival.

Cooper's contract is significant – his cap number is nearly $14 million next season – but he's a multifaceted receiver who has 4.4 speed and decent size (6-foot-1, 210 pounds).

Defensive Tackle

Of all the Eagles' positions, there is no greater fall-off between the top player and his backups than at defensive tackle.

There are Fletcher Cox and two guys who weren't even on the roster two weeks ago. If Tim Jernigan (back) was healthy or Haloti Ngata was more than a weekly question mark, then the Eagles might feel more confident about their depth at defensive tackle.

But if Cox were to get injured Sunday, Treyvon Hester and Bruce Hector — assuming Ngata (calf) is inactive — would be the Eagles' top two defensive tackles. Ngata should be back soon, but he has already missed two games, and at 34 his health has increasingly become an issue.

Cox has missed only three games over his career, so the odds are he stays upright. But he's on pace to play a higher percentage of snaps (83 percent) than he has in any previous season. For the most part, that's a good thing. Cox is off to arguably the best start of his career.

But he's being asked to do more than ever.

"I don't think he has to necessarily take more on," Pederson said. "In fact, it would be nice to be able to take less, take more off of him and keep him fresh and healthy as the season goes."

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz likes to rush defensive ends Michael Bennett and Brandon Graham from inside on passing downs, but there should be chances to upgrade the interior against the run and to keep offenses from double-teaming Cox on nearly every play.

Of the teams that may already be looking ahead to 2019, the Bills (Kyle Williams) and Cardinals (Corey Peters) and the 49ers (Sheldon Day) have expendable interior linemen. None of those names  is sexy, but top-flight defensive tackles are rare commodities.

Jernigan, who's on the reserve/non-football injury list, would help solve any problems, but he is not close to returning to practice and Pederson has made no guarantees about a return this season.

Defensive Back

The Eagles have done most of their personnel scrambling in the secondary, particularly at safety. Starter Rodney McLeod suffered a possible season-ending MCL injury against the Colts in Week 3 and since then Corey Graham and two cornerbacks who never played deep safety before – Avonte Maddox and Rasul Douglas – have taken his place.

Graham struggled and then strained his hamstring. But Maddox, typically a slot corner, handled the new spot with surprising aplomb. But starting slot Sidney Jones left last week's game with a hamstring strain, prompting Douglas' immersion, and Jones and Graham will be sidelined again Sunday.

The Eagles have Tre Sullivan and Deiondre' Hall as reserves at safety, but Schwartz's opting for Maddox and Douglas over both suggests that neither can be a long-term solution.

The Raiders' Karl Joseph would be a candidate. He's another first-round pick who could be jettisoned by Gruden, but that doesn't necessarily mean he wouldn't have use here. Joseph is only 25 and is known as a solid center-field tackler. He has been dealing with a groin injury.

The Eagles seem committed to Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby as their starting outside cornerbacks, but Gareon Conley of Oakland has versatility and could be an option inside or out. He was a first-round pick just a year ago, but anything seems possible with Gruden ready to blow up the 1-5 Raiders.

As banged up as the Eagles are, it could be worse.

They may have all they got, all they need.