The Eagles are entering a ‘re-tooling’ season in 2021. It’s been well documented, even owner Jeffery Lurie thinks so, saying earlier this offseason that his team was in the midst of a re-tooling phase.
Although the front office has been hesitant to pull the trigger on a full blown fire sale of their aging assets, if this season starts going south quickly, the Eagles could start selling by the trade deadline.
The team has a number of aging veterans who still hold value across the NFL. With the abundance of draft picks the team already has stashed in 2022, they could add even more draft capital by off loading some of their pricy contracts.
Here are four players Howie Roseman could look to trade in the near future.
Let’s start with the most obvious one. Zach Ertz’s unhappiness with his contract situation in Philly has been one of the main talking points surrounding this team for the past few months.
After his emotional final press conference, along with numerous reports suggesting he was on the way out, it felt like an Ertz departure was imminent. But here we are just eight days away from training camp, and still not movement on the Ertz front.
It seems pretty unlikely that Ertz will get moved prior to the season — unless a starting tight end on a contending team goes down with a serious injury. But, this may end up working out for both parties. If Ertz starts the season with Philly and puts up some nice numbers, teams will be more willing to trade for him and give him a new contract. Howie will also be able to get a higher draft pick if Ertz proves his worth in the beginning of 2021. That’s a win-win in my book.
Of all the names on this list, Ertz is the most likely to get moved during the season.
Another somewhat obvious trade candidate heading into this season, former first round pick Andre Dillard has a tough hill to climb in order to stay on the roster. He’s entering his third camp with the Eagles and he’ll be battling it out with Jordan Mailata for the starting left tackle spot.
Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland has said straight up that this is an open competition, and Mailata has stated that he and Dillard split first team reps during OTAs. But I think I speak for most Eagles fans when I say Dillard beating Mailata out would be a shock. Mailata’s rapid development has been astounding and at 24 years old, it doesn’t feel like it’ll slow down anytime soon.
When/if Dillard is relegated to the bench, the Eagles will certainly get calls for him. While he hasn’t played well during his short NFL career, his NFL story is far from finished and there’s a good chance that he could become a viable starting left tackle in this league. The potential is still there with Dillard and NFL executives love young, cheap potential. At a position of great value nonetheless.
Dillard could fetch some solid value on the trade block. Howie would be foolish not to explore those options.
Is Fletcher Cox still the best player on the Eagles defense? Yes. Is he on the decline and getting overpaid? Yes. Both can be true here, and if both are true, Howie should at least take phone calls for the former All-Pro defensive tackle.
Cox is set to have a cap hit of just over $23 million in 2021 and ’22. The team would take on a dead cap hit of approximately $23 million over the next two years if they were to trade him, but they’d shed his base salary of $15 million in ’21 and $16 million in ’22, along with a roster bonus of $1 million in 2022. That relieved cap space could be used in a number of different ways and address a handful of needs on this team.
While Cox is on a slight decline, he’s still highly thought of around the league. He would garner some nice trade value if he were to be available.
The Eagles would have to have an abysmal start to the 2021 season in order for Howie to explore trade options like this. I’m a bit more optimistic than most fans, but a 1-4 start, or something along those lines, isn’t that far fetched. The Eagles should rightfully look to unload their expensive contracts if their season goes down the tubes quickly. Cox is the most expensive player on the roster, making him a prime candidate to get traded by the trade deadline if the team struggles out of the gates.
At 26 years old, Greg Ward is the most experienced wideout on the Eagles roster at the moment. He’s been a serviceable slot receiver over the past two seasons, accumulating 81 receptions for 673 yards and 7 touchdowns. But regardless of Ward’s experience level, the Eagles have a handful of exciting young receivers at their disposal. If each of them show up this year, Ward is the odd man out in that wide receiver room.
While he’s been a consistent player for the Eagles, he’s not a high-ceiling player and he’s not versatile enough to be effective outside of the slot. Nick Sirianni wants to move his receivers around the formation and Ward just doesn’t fit into that philosophy.
If Jalen Reagor, DeVonta Smith, and Travis Fulgham all play well to start the year, we’ll likely see Ward’s snap count dwindle. A team in need of a pure slot receiver who’s cheap and young could view Ward as their answer. He may not get a huge return on the trade block, but if he’s not seeing the field, getting an extra draft pick for the wideout could be on the table.
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