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Fan-Demonium: Trading Places


The Eagles get mentioned in a lot of different trade rumors. Some of these rumors make complete sense while others seem like a wild stretch. The Eagles are a high-profile team. They have room under the salary cap and they have resources to work with. That means the Eagles will continue to be linked to most big-name players.

We all love speculating about trades. It is fun to imagine what it would be like to see Donovan McNabb throwing passes to Anquan Boldin or Braylon Edwards. Can you imagine Tony Gonzalez as the starting tight end? Think about what the defense could do with a guy like Julius Peppers added to the line.

Let's set the fun aside for a minute and think about reality. The NFL isn't big on trades. The salary cap has a big hand in that, but the NFL has never been a trader's league. The NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball make trades all the time. Wilt Chamberlain, Wayne Gretzky and Babe Ruth were all traded at some point. Ruth was actually sold, but let's not get too technical. I'm not sure why football teams have been so hesitant to make trades, but it is just a fact of life.

The most important part of trades that most people overlook is the question of who will replace the player on the team shipping the star out. If the Panthers decide to trade Peppers, who will be their primary pass rusher? That is an enormous hole to fill. The Browns reportedly did shop Edwards to the Giants, but one of the players they wanted in return was receiver Steve Smith. The report stated that the Giants offered receiver Domenik Hixon, but the Browns turned that down. Smith was the guy they wanted. Some Eagles fans have speculated that the team should offer Reggie Brown and a draft pick for Edwards, but there is no guarantee that Cleveland would want that deal. They may not feel Reggie Brown fits their offense.

One of the most interesting trade rumors this year has been Buffalo left tackle Jason Peters to the Eagles. I think people are just connecting the dots, but it is a fun idea for Eagles fans and the media. Peters is an outstanding left tackle, but there is a major contract impasse between him and the Bills. You also have to see the larger picture to appreciate this scenario. Bills coach Dick Jauron is not just on the hot seat; his pants are actually on fire. Owner Ralph Wilson openly made critical comments about the offense and coaching after the season. There is no way Jauron can trade his left tackle without a viable replacement ready to take over.

There is a possible solution to this scenario – Andre Smith. The Bills have the 11th overall pick in the upcoming draft. Smith, the star left tackle from Alabama, was talked about as being a top five pick back in November and December. He then had a bizarre off-season, especially his ""adventure"" at the Scouting Combine. That knocked Smith out of the top five. He could fall down into the 20 to 30 range, but I think some team will take a chance on him before that. Would Buffalo take him with the 11th pick? Will he even last that long?

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Eagles fans that are interested in Peters should pay close attention to Smith and what is being said about him. Smith would be the viable replacement that Buffalo needs. As funny as it sounds, a draft prospect could be the key to whether two NFL teams decide to make a trade.

One reason that Buffalo might really be interested in Smith is money. Peters wants a contract to pay him more than 10 million dollars a season. Smith would come much cheaper than that. Coincidentally, the Bills owned the 11th overall pick last year and selected Troy cornerback Leodis McKelvin who reportedly signed a five-year contract worth around 20 million dollars. That is a huge difference.

I'm sure the Eagles will explore all of these situations. They are thorough and detailed, especially when it comes to research. This helps them to decide which deals to pursue and which to avoid, but it also helps them to know what the other 31 teams are doing. That can be valuable on draft day. Unfortunately, all that work still doesn't mean the moves work the way we want them to.

As for the individual situations, I tend to think the Eagles won't be interested in Peppers. He would cost a first-round pick and then a huge contract. He isn't a great fit at this point. Peppers has spent most of his career at left defensive end, but moved to the right side in 2008. He was happier there, but would still prefer to play linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. We already have Trent Cole on the right side. I'm not moving him for Peppers. Would Peppers be happy on the left side in Philly? Maybe, but I'm not convinced enough to spend money and resources on him.

I don't think the Eagles will strongly pursue Boldin or Edwards. I think they would have interest in both guys, but wouldn't be willing to spend a lot of resources to get either guy. I'm not sure the Cardinals will even shop Boldin around. There are rumors that they have done it, but we haven't seen enough to know it is real. If the price is right, the Eagles might explore the situation. Just don't get your hopes up.

I can absolutely see the Eagles being interested in Peters. There is a potential hole at left tackle. The question is whether Buffalo is willing to deal him and how much they expect in return. A two-time Pro Bowl left tackle should have a high trade cost. On the other hand, Peters struggled last year due to a holdout and wants a big contract. That lowers his trade value. This is a situation to watch.

I'm not sure about Gonzalez. There is some question about whether he'll be available. The Eagles reportedly tried to pick him up at the trade deadline last year. If true, it would show you they had interest in him. He's still incredibly productive (10 touchdowns last year) even though he's 33 years old. The question with Gonzalez would be the cost. Would the Chiefs be looking for third-round pick or a fourth-round pick? I can't imagine they'd expect a second-round selection in the middle of the off-season. Players have more value during the season when there are limited options available.

At this point, we're all just speculating. Major trades will likely go down closer to draft weekend, if at all. I can't tell you the Eagles will be able to pull off a deal, but you can bet they'll do their homework and will try to make something happen. It takes two to tango, so we'll have to hope other teams are looking to move players and are being reasonable about what they want in return.

Draft Talk

One question I get a lot is whether the Eagles will trade up, stay put, or even try to trade back. I'm sure the team will explore trade up scenarios. The first thing to consider is that you need a target. More than a few fans would like the team to go up and try to land receiver Michael Crabtree. While that is an exciting idea, it isn't likely to happen. You'd have to spend a lot of resources to get up high enough to make a play for him. I'm not sure the team would do that with DeSean Jackson already in place.

The Eagles are bound to be interested in offensive tackles Eugene Monroe and Jason Smith. One of them will go really early. The other one might make it out of the top five, but wouldn't last much longer. Normally, teams a pay steep price to move from No. 21 down into the top ten. This year might be an exception because the draft class lacks many real special players. If the Eagles could use the 21st pick and their second-round selection to move up that might be something they would do. Some teams might laugh at that offer, but someone else might not like the players up top and might be willing to accept that offer. The best way to sum it up is that the Eagles may bargain hunt in terms of looking to trade up. I cannot imagine any realistic scenario in which the Eagles would deal both first-round picks to move up.

It is hard to say whether the Eagles will stay put at both spots. That doesn't seem likely, but really it will depend on how the board breaks. If the right players are available, then there is no need to move.

Trading back could also make sense, depending on who is available. The goal isn't to add extra picks for the sake of it, but rather to slide down if you simply don't see good choices. The Eagles already have 12 selections. Still, extra picks have value. They could be in the form of 2010 picks. The extra picks could also be used to move up in other rounds this year. The Eagles could slide down from No. 28 into the mid 30s. They could then use the new picks as trade ammo and move up from No. 53 into the early 40s. You really have to look at the big picture when trying to figure out what will happen. There are a lot of moving parts involved in the draft.

Questions From Last Week

  • I posted a mock draft for the Eagles in my last column. One of the moves I made was to have the Eagles take cornerback Alphonso Smith at 28. This bothered/confused a few people.

I didn't have the Eagles pick him for the sake of adding a cornerback. Too often, people think in terms of positions and not players. Remember when the Eagles were rumored to have interest in center LeCharles Bentley? The team reportedly wanted to sign him to a huge deal at the onset of free agency in 2006, but Bentley signed with his hometown Browns. The Eagles didn't pursue the next best center. They didn't draft a center. They stuck with Jamaal Jackson. The point wasn't to go add a center. They wanted Bentley. That was a player-specific move.

Smith is a unique guy. I think the Eagles will really be interested in him. As I said last time out, Smith is best described as a playmaker. He set the ACC record with his 21 career interceptions. His seven interceptions last season was tied for best in the nation. Smith returned four of his career interceptions back for touchdowns. He forced seven fumbles in his career. He blocked five kicks.

Let me try to put these numbers in perspective. There are three other cornerbacks who have a strong chance to be first-round picks. Those players are Malcolm Jenkins, Darius Butler and Vontae Davis. That trio combined to start more than 100 games in college. They combined for 28 interceptions, 10 forced fumbles and 4 blocked kicks. Now go back up and look at what Smith did by himself. He is a special playmaker. You can't look at a player like him as just a cornerback.

  • I know some fans want running back Beanie Wells instead of Knowshon Moreno. I'm not so sure that Wells will last to pick 21. I like Moreno better, but Wells is a good fit for several teams that might be looking to use a running back tandem. Very few teams have a guy that is 230 pounds and runs fast. The Eagles might like Wells, but I can't see them trading up to get him.
  • A few people talked about wide receiver Ramses Barden as a potential mid-round target. I do think the Eagles could be interested in him. Barden is huge at 6-6 and 227 pounds. He has tremendous potential. The downside is that he played at Cal-Poly (Chris Gocong's school). Barden went to the Senior Bowl and was very up and down. Gocong played in the Shrine Game following his senior season and really stood out. He looked like the best guy on the field at times. He then went to the Combine and posted great numbers. Barden has done pretty well in workouts, but I think the Senior Bowl struggles will make some teams nervous. He will go in the third or fourth round. He is an intriguing player, but could struggle against NFL competition.

As always, be sure to check out **** for daily draft information. We post a new mock draft each week. We're also working on our value board and finalizing prospect profiles.

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