The wheels for Monday's agreed-to trade with the New Orleans Saints were set in motion in February and March of 2021 when Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman combined short-term goals with long-term vision to accelerate the "transition" portion of the team's roster-building process. In a matter of a few weeks, Philadelphia executed trades with Indianapolis and Miami to set up what Roseman was able to accomplish with the Saints.
It's always fun to gauge the immediate reaction to a deal and then to judge the move fairly as time goes on. In the case of these trades, following Roseman's blueprint, the benefits haven't been fully realized, so let's take stock of where we are on this Tuesday with the 2022 NFL Draft just a tick over three weeks away ...
• Trading quarterback Carson Wentz was the first seismic move. It changed the landscape of the Eagles' quarterback room, of course, and it allowed the team to build some significant NFL Draft capital, which Roseman continues to move.
In return for Wentz, the Eagles received from the Colts the 70th overall pick in 2021 and a conditional first-round draft pick in 2022. Roseman dealt that 70th pick to Carolina for two draft picks – the 73rd selection became defensive tackle Milton Williams and the 191st pick became defensive end Tarron Jackson. It's too early to project with Williams and Jackson, but the Eagles were certainly excited with what they saw from Williams and Jackson in their rookie campaigns. Williams was a regular part of the defensive line rotation and showed some big-time skills, while Jackson impressed as he made the transition from Coastal Carolina to the NFL, playing 223 snaps on defense and contributing on special teams.
That first-round pick in 2022? It became the 16th overall pick, and it was part of the package the Eagles used to deal with the Saints on Monday. The trade from last March, then, keeps on giving as the Eagles used No. 16 and No. 19 along with a sixth-round draft pick to gain the No. 18 pick, a third-round selection this year, a first-round pick in 2023, and a No. 2 in 2024.
• The move six weeks later when Roseman agreed to a trade with Miami also played a part in the deal the Eagles just agreed to do with New Orleans. Roseman traded the sixth overall pick and a sixth-round selection to the Dolphins for the 12th pick in the 2021 Draft, a fourth-round pick, and a 2022 first-round draft choice. The Eagles then traded the No. 12 pick in the '21 draft to move up to No. 10 to select wide receiver DeVonta Smith. They used the fourth-rounder (No. 123 overall) to take promising cornerback Zech McPhearson. Philadelphia still holds Miami's first-round pick for 2022, which is the 15th overall selection. Without that draft capital, it would have been tough to pull off Monday's agreed-to trade with New Orleans.
• A key for the Eagles has been to have a high quantity of picks for the NFL Draft, and they sit here now with 10 selections, the same number they had before the trade with the Saints. Philadelphia has five picks in the first three rounds of the draft and nine selections in five rounds.
• A fun fact for you: The Eagles have three picks that at one point belonged to the Saints – Nos. 18, 101, and 237 – and in both instances in the first round the Eagles select one pick ahead of New Orleans – at 15 and at 18.
• The Eagles have the 11th pick in the fifth round (No. 154 overall) from Washington thanks to a trade during last year's draft. Roseman traded sixth- and seventh-round picks to Washington for this fifth-round selection. Washington selected long snapper Camaron Cheeseman and linebacker/defensive end William Bradley-King with those picks.
• Philadelphia also has the 166th overall pick in this draft, another fifth-rounder, thanks to the trade with Arizona that sent tight end Zach Ertz to the Cardinals and netted the Eagles defensive back Tay Gowan as well as the extra selection. Trading Ertz allowed Dallas Goedert to elevate to the No. 1 tight end spot and, eventually, a long-term contract extension with Philadelphia.
• The sixth-round pick the Eagles just agreed to trade to New Orleans is one the Eagles acquired when they dealt offensive lineman Matt Pryor to Indianapolis. The Eagles were going to have a hard time finding snaps for Pryor with such a deep offensive line room, and the Colts had a need. Pryor just signed a new contract with the Colts and could earn significant playing time there. The Eagles used that draft capital to help execute this blockbuster with New Orleans. Smart stuff.
And that's the way the trade carousel works – you get some immediate gratification as the fans and the media rush to "grade" the trade and then reality sets in: It's all about maximizing the pick bounty and making the most of those selections. The Eagles have a wealth of picks. They're playing from a position of strength and Roseman continues to work the phones and do anything he can to improve the roster for 2022 and years to come.