They did it again when the team traded Kevin Kolb on Thursday to Arizona for Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2012 second-round draft pick. Judged now -- which is never fair -- the Eagles did themselves extremely well bringing back that kind of value for a quarterback who had one year left on his contract and who would have spent the season behind the magical Michael Vick.
It is the third quarterback trade during Reid's era here, and the first two brought back terrific value. The Eagles traded backup quarterback A.J. Feeley to Miami for a second-round draft pick in 2005 (the pick became wide receiver Reggie Brown) and then the team dealt Donovan McNabb to Washington for a second-round draft pick in 2010 (safety Nate Allen) and a fourth-round pick in 2011 that they traded to Tampa Bay for fourth-round pick (linebacker Casey Matthews) and a fourth-round draft pick in 2012.
And now the Kolb deal. One year ago, we looked forward to Kolb becoming the face of the franchise as McNabb's heir. One game into the regular season, Kolb was buried into the ground by Green Bay's Clay Matthews and Vick entered the picture and took the position to new heights.
It was clear to all that Kolb's situation here was tenuous. He played the good soldier as the backup, but it was obvious that Kolb wanted to be a starter. He gets that chance in Arizona. Meanwhile, the Eagles solved their hole at right cornerback with Rodgers-Cromartie, a tall, rangy and extremely athletic cornerback who allows the coverage to match up much better with the bigger receivers they will see this year. He and Asante Samuel give the Eagles a pair of premier ball hawks who have big-play ability and who will make quarterbacks pay for their mistakes.
Don't discount the value of the second-round pick in 2012, either. The Eagles always like to stack up their draft picks, and they've got a couple of extra selections next April.
The team was able, then, to help its immediate situation with Rodgers-Cromartie and also keep an eye on the future. Arizona acquired its quarterback of the future and everyone wishes Kolb good luck. The Eagles move on by adding a key piece to the defense that Juan Castillo can work with right away.
Rodgers-Cromartie arrives on Friday and will be on the field either late in the day or on Saturday at 8:05 a.m. when the public is invited for the first time.
There are many thoughts here. One is that the defense is much better today than it was yesterday with the reported agreement to terms with Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin and the addition of Rodgers-Cromartie. Just like that, the Eagles added two Pro Bowl talents. There is more work to be done, of course -- the linebacker situation feels incomplete and the safety positions aren't settled -- but we are early in the process and the Eagles have a lot going on behind the scenes.
Another thought is that the Eagles may very well go out and get a veteran to back up Vick and make the quarterback picture whole. Would the Eagles go into a season with second-year man Mike Kafka? Maybe, but it would seem to go against Reid's history of making sure the most important position on the field is stocked completely.
Kafka has a chance to be a very fine quarterback in the league some day, but he has yet to play in a regular-season game. Look for him to get a lot of playing time in the preseason.
And look for the Eagles to continue to explore their options at quarterback. Vince Young was released by the Titans on Thursday and NFL Networks's Albert Breer Tweeted late in the night that Young and the Eagles agreed to terms on a one-year contract.
Reid and his coaching staff have had an admirable track record maturing and developing quarterbacks in this scheme. He operates an offense that relies heavily on the passing games, so the skill of bringing quarterbacks along is vital to the team's success.
In a league where starting quarterbacks are difficult to come by, much less quality backups, the Eagles always seem to have the right formula. McNabb was a Pro Bowl quarterback. Vick is a Pro Bowl quarterback. Feeley and Kolb and Jeff Garcia and even Koy Detmer put up big numbers on the scoreboard when they played here.
Whatever Reid and his coaches do, it works. It really is remarkable and we are fortunate for that.
Eaglesville at Lehigh University was a happy place on Thursday. The team got it going during the afternoon practice with a great tempo and intensity. Two moves -- one reported (Babin) and one confirmed (acquisition of Rodgers-Cromartie) -- made the defense a whole lot better.
There were some of the usual bumps along the way -- DeSean Jackson isn't here, and nobody seems to know when he will show up, offensive tackle Winston Justice and defensive end Brandon Graham were placed on the Physically Unable to Perform List -- but those kinds of events happen everywhere. They resolve themselves.
What matters is that the Eagles took a lot of steps forward on and off the field. And that's a good, good thing.
Usually after the first day of practice I'm the annoying guy going up to the scouts and asking who played well and how another player looked. That's impossible to do now. There is so much going on, and the practices are at such a rudimentary stage in some respects -- how, for example, can a rookie possibly play to his ability when he doesn't even know the scheme? -- that it is better to watch, and wait and then judge in the preseason games.
The Eagles have a lot of balls in the air right now on and off the field. It's an exciting time. Give this team credit for thinking logically and moving in the right direction one day after the next.