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A Year Ago, Eagles Secured QB Picture

Posted Mar 7, 2017

In this pre-free agency period, the buzz is that Tampa Bay backup quarterback Mike Glennon could command upwards of $15 million once the market opens. Teams like the Jets, Bears, and Browns are desperate for an answer. Glennon figures to be a very hot property. His situation puts into perspective the moves the Eagles made last March to secure Carson Wentz ...

In this pre-free agency period, the buzz is that Tampa Bay backup quarterback Mike Glennon could command upwards of $15 million once the market opens. Teams like the Jets, Bears, and Browns are desperate for an answer. Glennon figures to be a very hot property. His situation puts into perspective the moves the Eagles made last March to secure Carson Wentz.

“We felt that we had chances to improve our quarterback picture now and for the next decade," Howie Roseman said in the aftermath of a series of moves that thrust Wentz into the starting lineup in 2016. "It took us quite a bit to get to this point.”

Twelve months ago, on March 1 to be exact, Roseman and new head coach Doug Pederson started the wheels in motion, signing pending free agent Sam Bradford to a two-year contract. It was a welcomed relief, Pederson said, to have Bradford back to run Pederson’s version of the West Coast offense. With his veteran experience and his pure passing skills, Bradford would build on the final six weeks of his 2015 season when regained his leg strength and his drive after two injury-ruined seasons.

“Sam is going to fit in well with what we’re doing,” Pederson said as the Eagles announced the signing. “He will pick up the offense quickly and we’ll be off and rolling.”

Uh, not so fast. Eight days after signing Bradford, Roseman worked an unusual trade deal, sending cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso, two players who had subpar performances after being acquired prior to the 2015 season, along with the 13th overall pick in the 2016 draft, to the Miami Dolphins for the 8th overall selection.

In making that deal, Roseman cleared the remaining five years of Maxwell’s reported $63 million contract off the books, including the $8.5 million he was due to earn in 2016. Alonso, still on his rookie contract, was dealt to the Eagles in the trade that sent running back LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills prior to the 2015 season.

So, the Eagles improved their draft standing and moved into the valuable part of the 2016 draft, the top 10. Roseman said all along, disguising his intentions well all know now, that there were 10 top-tier talents in the first round of last spring’s draft. So, for the next five weeks, speculation was rampant. Who were the Eagles targeting at No. 8? Could they go with a running back? A wide receiver? A game-changing defensive player?

Would they trade again?

Before that answer came, the Eagles again addressed the quarterback position as free agency opened, signing veteran backup quarterback Chase Daniel to a three-year contract. Daniel had been in Kansas City with Pederson for three seasons and he knew the offense Pederson wanted to implement.

The quarterback position, then, seemed settled with Bradford leading the way and Daniel as the trusty No. 2. Free agency and the draft, then, could focus on other positions.

And the implications of having the eighth overall pick put the Eagles in position to take an impact player. That is, if they were to stand pat at No. 8 overall.

“We haven’t said that we were looking to move up or move down,” Roseman said on April 18. “But for us, we stack the players and then figure out our way to get the best players we possibility can. We’re excited about picking eighth and the opportunities that will be at the eighth pick.”

Would the Eagles move out of No. 8 and gain more draft picks? It seemed to be a possibility as Roseman spoke to reporters.

“It’s going to have to be good," Roseman said. "It’s going to have to be something we feel like we can’t turn down. Because we went into that trade for a reason, we’ve been trying to get up throughout the Combine, having those discussions. We gave up two starting players to come up. So for us to come back down, it would have to be something compelling.”  

Only two days later, the Eagles made their next move ... up the draft ladder, trading their 2016 first-round pick (No. 8 overall), a 2016 third-round pick (No. 77 overall), a 2016 fourth-round pick (No. 100 overall), a 2017 first-round pick (No. 12 overall), and a 2018 second-round pick to Cleveland for the No.2 pick overall. The Eagles also acquired a 2017 fourth-round pick (No. 139 overall) in the deal.

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"By making the initial trade with Miami earlier this offseason and with this trade today with Cleveland, we feel that we have put ourselves in the best possible position to draft an impact player," Roseman said. "We will now focus our energy on the next step.

“It’s hard to be great if you don’t take some risks.”

On April 28, the Los Angeles Rams selected University of California quarterback Jared Goff with the first overall pick. The Eagles, jubilant in the draft room at the NovaCare Complex, then telephoned Wentz to ask if was “ready to be a Philadelphia Eagle,” and the team had their long-term answer at the sport’s most important position.

The plan was to start Bradford for 2016 and groom Wentz for 2017. The Eagles stuck to the script through the spring Organized Team Activities, Training Camp, and, finally, through the four preseason games. And then opportunity struck when Minnesota, scrambling for a starting solution at quarterback after Teddy Bridgewater was lost for the season with a knee injury, reached out to Roseman and the Eagles struck an historic deal: They traded Bradford to Minnesota for, most notably, a first-round pick in this year’s draft.

Wentz, eight days before the 2016 season opened, became the starting quarterback and went on to have a season that provided every indication that he is the franchise-star quarterback the Eagles have lacked since the prime days of Donovan McNabb. That draft pick acquired in the Bradford deal? It’s No. 14 overall in April.

The Eagles have their star quarterback and still own a first-round draft pick. The future is bright.

And as a result, as a handful of teams scramble for a quarterback with a free agent market that is paltry at best and a draft that is lacking in anything close to a "sure thing" at the position, the Eagles’ rebuild is very much on the upswing. The current state is a result of a series of moves started 12 months ago that put the Eagles in prime position at quarterback for a decade, and then some, ahead.

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