1. The Eagles-Marcus Mariota Blockbuster Trade Rumors Can Die
Head coach Chip Kelly said that Marcus Mariota is the best quarterback in the NFL Draft. Kelly's affinity for his former quarterback from Oregon is evident, but there won't be a blockbuster trade to reunite the two in Philadelphia. In fact, Kelly said that the Eagles never engaged in talks with other teams to see what it would even take to move up from the 20th overall pick.
"Let's dispel that right now. I think that stuff is crazy. ... We will never mortgage our future to go all the way up to go get somebody like that because we have too many other holes that we're going to take care of," Kelly said.
"We're not going to mortgage the future for any particular player. That's not philosophically what we think is the right thing to do that you're going to package 20 picks to move up from 20 to some other spot."
2. Eagles Have Already Been Offered A First-Round Pick For Bradford
But don't expect the Eagles to bite on such a deal.
Head coach Chip Kelly said that the Eagles received an offer from another team Wednesday morning of a first-round pick in exchange for quarterback Sam Bradford. Kelly said that Bradford was not acquired to be a trade chip.
"I'm the only Chip here," Kelly said.
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The Eagles have looked at every game-action throw made by Bradford since he was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Kelly said that there were other teams involved in talks with the Rams for Bradford that's why the Eagles parted with next year's second-round pick in the process.
What helped alleviate the Eagles' concern about parting with the draft pick was the fact that they had inside knowledge on Bradford. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur was the Rams' offensive coordinator in 2010 when Bradford earned NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
"He knows what he's like in the meeting room. He knows what he's like on a daily basis. He knows the consistency that comes with him. He understands his work ethic," Kelly said of Shurmur's insight.
"He's an unbelievable competitor. I talked to the people around him who were his coaches in the NFL, who were his coaches in college ... the kid is wired right, and he's a competitor. I think he's got an outstanding skill set. He's a big, strong, physical quarterback. He's over 6-4. He's 240 pounds. He's smart. He's intelligent. He's one of the most accurate throwers when you see him throw the football."
Bradford has missed the past year and a half due to two ACL injuries. The Eagles did their due diligence and are "confident" with Bradford's recovery. They feel fortunate that the opportunity to acquire Bradford came to fruition.
"The deal with Sam Bradford is if he never tore his ACL, he'd never be traded," Kelly said.
3. The Value Was Too Good To Pass Up In Trades
"To get something, you have to give something up. That's the way it works in this league."
This was a repeated theme throughout Kelly's press conference.
The Eagles traded away two Pro Bowl offensive starters in quarterback Nick Foles and running back LeSean McCoy.
With Foles, Kelly said the Eagles gave up an "outstanding quarterback" in order to get Bradford in return.
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"We gave up an outstanding quarterback who is going to have a great career in St. Louis and one of the all-time great teammates, players," Kelly said. "I think everybody in here (feels that way), I'll be honest it was a very difficult phone call to make because of how I feel about Nick."
The Eagles traded McCoy to acquire linebacker Kiko Alonso from the Bills. In Kelly's mind, the Eagles not only got Alonso, a great player at a position of need, but the money saved allowed the Eagles to sign starting cornerback Byron Maxwell.
"The way we look at it, we got Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell for LeSean McCoy. And that's the bottom line," Kelly said. "Every decision you have to make is governed by money. You'd love to keep everybody if you could pay everybody, but it's not baseball. We're all limited by a cap number."
Kelly only wishes that he was able to personally tell McCoy about the trade. Buffalo "jumped the gun" on the trade announcement and Kelly was unable to reach McCoy in time.
"We told Buffalo we weren't happy with that. There's nothing you can do about getting it back," Kelly said. "I've got all the respect in the world (for McCoy). The kid's the all-time leading rusher. He's a special football player."
4. Clarification Of Front Office Structure
Speaking for the first time since the Eagles announced a new front-office structure in which he would oversee the player personnel department, Kelly explained how those decisions were made and how he works with executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman.
"I just had a meeting with (Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie) like I do at the end of every year," Kelly said, "in terms of the direction of what we were doing and how do we go from being a 10-6 team to a team that can win the Super Bowl.
"I didn't make any suggestions; I just talked about the vision of this thing. (Lurie) came back to me with what he wanted to do and how he wanted to run this. It's Mr. Lurie's decision on how things are run here … I think Howie does an outstanding job, he's done an outstanding job in free agency in terms of negotiating contracts. It's a collaborative job in everything we do."
Kelly said the streamlining of the personnel department helps the player acquisition process.
"We have a vision of what we want for football players here and I think we can articulate that and I think that's what we're trying to go out and get," said Kelly.
The biggest change in terms of process, Kelly said, will come during the NFL Draft.
"I would just have final say in who we end up selecting," Kelly said. "I haven't had final say in the last two drafts."
5. Chip Kelly Is Bringing In Players Who Fit His Mold
Beyond Bradford, Kelly outlined the reasons for some of the Eagles' other acquisitions since the beginning of the league year. As outlined above, while trading away McCoy was not ideal, the move allowed the Eagles to bring in not just Kiko Alonso, but Byron Maxwell as well. But what will those two bring to the Eagles defense?
"Obviously I know Kiko very well," Kelly said about the linebacker. "But I think people that didn't know him well from his college career can see what he did in his first year in Buffalo, had 159 tackles in 16 games, played every defensive snap, had four interceptions. I think he was the defensive rookie of the year. A very instinctive football player, runs extremely well, he's tall, he's long, he's what we're looking for. He's all about football. Just a smart, intelligent football player that's working very, very hard to get himself back in position to play.
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"We had an opportunity to get Byron Maxwell, we've seen Byron first-hand, we had a chance to play against him when we played Seattle. Obviously we felt that he was the best corner that was available in terms of how he could fit, what fits with us money-wise. He's what we're looking for in corners, tall, long, physical, athletic, smart. He's an intelligent football player, so I think he's a good fit."
Kelly also explained the addition of cornerback Walter Thurmond III, who overlapped with Kelly for one season at Oregon before Thurmond left for the NFL.
"Walter is another guy, I think, was available because he was injured," Kelly said. "We signed him to a one-year deal. Very competitive player, was captain when I was there in 2009 at Oregon. Had a really good career at Seattle. I know the coaches at the Giants were extremely high on him but he got hurt last year, so kind of a similar deal to what we signed Nate Allen to last year."
6. Competition Will Be Stiff On Defense
Despite several additions to the defensive side of the ball, there are still several spots that will feature jockeying for playing time throughout the spring and summer. First, at inside linebacker, Alonso will join a group that also features Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans, whom Kelly confirmed will return in 2015, despite the Achilles injury suffered last year.
"I like having really good football players," Kelly said. "The one thing you have no idea – Mychal missed some games last year, DeMeco missed some games last year, Kiko has missed games. We're trying to accumulate as many good football players as we can."
Meanwhile, the race for the second starting cornerback spot will include at least three players.
"We'll give Walt (Thurmond) an opportunity to come in here and compete with Nolan Carroll and Brandon Boykin for who that outside corner is opposite Byron," Kelly said.