On Tuesday morning, ESPN’s Chris Mortenson made a guest appearance on 97.5 The Phanatic to discuss potential offseason moves for the Eagles — in particular possible trades. Nick Foles naturally came up in the conversation, but the one bomb Morty dropped had nothing to do with the Super Bowl MVP. While talking about the Eagles desire to add another mid-round pick (no surprise there) he mentioned the defensive backfield as the surplus that can be used as a bargaining chip. Although he never mentioned a specific player, it’s been widely assumed that he was referring to Ronald Darby.
I understand why that may come as a shock to some. The Eagles added Darby prior to last season to desperately plug a hole that’s plagued them for what feels like a decade. One year later can they possibly be so rich at the position to the point where they can afford to send away their number one corner for a mid-round pick?
I think so — not only do I think it’s a practical long-term move but it actually makes plenty of sense for next season.
He doesn’t appear to fit into the teams’ long-term plan at cornerback
Darby has just one year left on his deal and figures to command a decent pay day. Considering the Eagles are all-in on Sidney Jones and intend to re-sign Patrick Robinson, I’m not sure Darby fits into the long-term plans at the position. Beyond that, the team will probably be strapped for cap space next offseason as well. Rather than letting him walk in Free Agency, why not try to recoup some value from the package of Jordan Mathews and the 3rd round pick that we spent to acquire him. We won’t be able to get all that value back, but it’s a sunk cost compared the possibility of losing him for nothing.
A healthy Sidney Jones can seamlessly replace him in 2018
The big concern for me is what it does to our teams’ short-term outlook at cornerback, but the truth is it doesn’t change things much. I mentioned Sidney Jones earlier and apparently the team is high enough on him — and confident enough in his Achilles — to bet on him locking down Darby’s spot in the secondary next season. If he’s capable of doing that then our coverage wouldn’t skip a beat.
The Eagles are in a unique position. With a player like Jones now healthy we can realistically add a mid-round pick without incurring any real on-field costs. It’s a dicey proposition to trust what’s essentially a rookie coming off injury, but these rumors clearly show the Birds don’t have those concerns.
The Eagles badly need a 2nd or 3rd round pick
After 32, the next pick in the draft for the Birds comes at the very end of the fourth round (127 overall). As I’ve mentioned in the past, with so many role players to be replaced and so little cap space the draft gives the Eagles the best chance to fill those holes. It’s hard to see them being able to do that without reasonable mid-round picks.
Some areas the Eagles could look to address in the mid-third round are DT, LB, S, OT, & TE. All five spots will likely require attention at some point in the offseason; a third round pick — somewhere between 70 and 90 overall — would be a valuable asset to satisfy one of those needs.
I’ve spent hours writing, talking, and thinking about the various moves the Eagles may or not make this offseason — this isn’t one of them. But the more I think about it the more it seems to make sense for the team. Darby is likely on his way out of town next season, so if Sidney Jones truly is the answer at corner then flipping Darby for a pick we can use to fill a position of need seems like a no-brainer.