Three interesting nuggets worth passing on regarding the Eagles.
1. The Birds Actually (Maybe) (Probably) Want Mariota
First, regarding the persistent rumors about the Eagles trading up for Marcus Mariota. It's that time of the year again when it is virtually impossible to tell fact from fiction. Reporters try to make a name for themselves, agents try to create leverage for their clients, and teams try to steal that leverage back.
I wrote earlier this week that it was getting harder to ignore the persistent rumors. That becomes even more so when Peter King and Pat Kirwin release mock drafts that have the Eagles trading up for Mariota. These are two of the most respected journalists in the NFL we are talking about here. So when they both come out with the same conclusion, it is worth paying attention to.
Jimmy Kempski at the Philly Voice reached a similar conclusion when he tweeted the following:
He then followed that tweet up with the following article:
Every day, with little things I hear, evidence continues to build that the Eagles are going to make a strong play for Marcus Mariota. To note, this is something I had previously thought to be unrealistic, so as bits of information have trickled in, they've been absorbed on my end with skepticism. But it appears the Eagles are determined to get their guy.
Look, I don't know if the Birds will #dothedeal. But it seems increasingly likely that they will try everything they can to get him, within reason.
2. Expect the Birds to be Big Players in Free Agency
In case you haven't noticed, the Eagles have several holes to fill on a good, young roster: cornerback, safety, inside linebacker, guard, and if you are part of the anti-Foles brigade, quarterback.
But if the Eagles are seriously considering a run at Mariota, they cannot rely on the draft to help fill those holes, since they will likely have to part with at least their first two round picks this year, plus future high draft picks to get it done.
Which means free agency is the only viable means for the Eagles to fill their needs.
I have been against using free agency as a primary mechanism for team building. There are countless examples of teams winning the free agency period and losing when it counts most.
But if it is done right, it can help a team get over the hump. Connor Barwin and Malcom Jenkins are classic examples of great free agent signings that have come up big for the Birds.
There is a growing sentiment that the Eagles are going to be big players in free agency and that part of that spending spree will include signing Byron Maxwell.
Tony Pauline is one of the better respected NFL Insiders, especially this time of year. So when he speaks, people often listen. Here is what he said about Maxwell to the Birds:
He followed that up with this: "Since my posting Friday on the belief the Philadelphia Eagles are the front-runners for Byron Maxwell, additional sources have told me they agree with the assessment and feel Maxwell will end up with the team."
Maxwell is, by all accounts, the top corner in this year's free agent class. And he would represent a significant upgrade over the Eagles current options. The only question is whether he will be worth the price he commands on the open market.
I wrote this about Maxwell in my breakdown of the cornerbacks available to the Eagles:
The question becomes whether Maxwell will be worth the price tag. He is going to have plenty of suitors this offseason, as he figures to be the best corner available (assuming Darrelle Revis resigns with the Patriots). The Ravens and Browns are two teams reportedly interested in Maxwell, and the list of suitors figures to grow. Apparently, Maxwell knows this, as he was recently told NFL.com that he was excited about testing free agency because "I'm the prettiest girl at the dance right now."
While he won't get Sherman or Revis money, it is safe to assume that he will receive something similar to Vonte Davis, Aqib Talib, and Jonathan Joseph, between $9 to $11 million per year over 5 years. That's a lot of money to throw at a guy who could not even win the starting job until last year.
Another option to keep an eye on is safety Rahim Moore of the Denver Broncos. He is only 24 years old, and is only being let go by the Broncos because of their cap situation. He is a versatile safety that played under new Eagles secondary coach Cory Undlin in Denver. So don't be surprised if the Eagles make a push to bring Moore in.
3. Spadaro Claims Roseman to Blame for 2014 Draft
In between the hot air being blown by Josh Innes and Howard Eskin, the Great Eagles Debate actually provided some useful nuggets of information from the most unlikely of places.
Dave Spadaro, the Eagles Insider who is practically contractually obligated to never criticize the Eagles, stated that the power structure shake up in the Eagles front office occurred because Roseman was in charge of the 2014 draft, including the decision to draft Marcus Smith in the first round.
Up until now, there was only speculation about who was calling the shots. But given Spadaro's connection to the Birds and proclivity to avoid speculation, this seems like the clearest indication to date of what went down last year.
And it lends clarity to a monumental offseason restructuring of the Eagles front office. If Roseman was indeed the one to blame for Smith, it is easier to understand why Lurie was not opposed to the idea of stripping Roseman of his player personnel duties, especially if it was in an effort to keep Chip Kelly on board.
But I wonder if the schism between Kelly and Roseman went beyond just drafting Smith in the first round. Another nugget from the Great Eagles Debate was that the Eagles were convinced Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix would be available when the Birds picked at 22. That did not happen, and the Birds were left without any of the players they wanted to target in the first round.
This is purely speculation on my part, but I would not be the least bit surprised if Kelly pushed for the Eagles to trade up to nab Clinton-Dix or another prospect, but Roseman wouldn't do it because trading up is against his M.O. Roseanne ascribes to the notion that more picks are better than less, even if those picks are in later rounds. It's all about spreading out the risk and giving yourself maximum opportunities to hit on a pick.
So if the Eagles missed one of their targets because Roseman refused to move up, I could see how that played into Roseman's eventual ouster. Again, this is purely speculation on my part. But it is a reasonable conclusion given what we have heard about the 2014 draft and what we know about Roseman's approach to the draft.