The more casual fan likely remembers last June’s NBA Draft as uneventful for the Sixers (Matisse Thybulle was the team’s only pick), but it’s important that we don’t forget the deeper story behind that addition—a GM caught playing his hand face up, setting up a stone-cold fleecing at the hands of the Celtics’ Danny Ainge.
Leading up to the Draft, the worst kept secret in the NBA had been the Sixers infatuation with Thybulle—he only worked out for one team (the Sixers), denied other teams workouts, all while the Sixers front office shouted their desire to add an immediate-impact defensive wing (Matisse was the only prospect who fit that description).
As the story goes, Danny Ainge was able to leverage that information and draft him a few slots ahead of the Sixers, knowing full well that Elton Brand would be willing (and have no choice) but to overpay in a trade—which is exactly what happened.
All I can wonder is: how bad have the Eagles burned their leverage in regard to needing to make moves at wide receiver?
You don’t need to be a die-hard Eagles fan to know they need help at the position, and you don’t need to be in touch with league sources to know they want to upgrade the weapons around Wentz.
The Eagles need at receiver is so well understood that any wideout who hits the open market or trade block is instantly linked to the Birds. Over 90% of mock drafts have us taking a WR, and at that, the majority of those have us either taking the Justin Jefferson at 21, or moving up to get Juedy, Lamb, or Ruggs.
Similar to Thybulle and the Sixers, the Eagles aren’t in a position to draft a project, and those picks exemplify just how well-understood that fact is.
I have two main concerns:
First, what’s to keep a team in the 22-32 range from trading up to #20 and snagging Jefferson before the Birds pick at 21? Jacksonville at 20 is a prime trade down candidate with multiple picks in round one, and there are plenty of teams in the mid-20s who are looking at WR (mainly the Vikings, who pick at 22 and 25, and could easily pair one of those with a 4th to leap frog Howie).
Second, what happens when Howie calls someone up in the early-teens looking to trade up for CeDee Lamb or Jerry Juedy? Do you think they’ll be getting the same sort of starting-offers as say a New England might if they wanted to move up from 23? I doubt it—if the Eagles make a call about trading up, everyone would assume to know what position it’s for, and thus know how bad they need it.
If your first instinct is to think that won’t matter, let me offer this for thought: if at 13 San Francisco looks to move back, and the Eagles and two other teams offer packages that are close in value, wouldn’t the smart thing for that team to do be to counter Howie with a lopsided offer, and if Howie declines go back to one of the other two?—thanks for attending Leverage 101.
The broader point here is to emphasize the risk of tipping your hand too much, or in the Eagles case, having your hand tipped as a product of circumstance.
Last week Howie Roseman mentioned on a conference call that they viewed their receiver room differently than everyone else. Now, we can take that at face value, but Howie isn’t an idiot—he knows the Eagles had the 31st ranked WR group in 2019. Those are the comments of a front office scrambling to obscure their intentions.
Then consider his comment that the Texans didn’t offer them the same deal for DeAndre Hopkins as was offered to Arizona. Obviously there are a lot of factors at play there, but the fact that Bill O’Brien wasn’t willing to strike the same deal with the Eagles as he was with Arizona tells us a lot about how the rest of the league perceives our leverage at the wide receiver position.
Last June, Sixers fans watched idly as Elton Brand was gouged for value as a result of the front offices failure to keep their cards close to their chest. While the Eagles situation isn’t entirely the same, it’s pretty clear that Howie and company have a similar problem.