During a period of time when moving players is historically not active, the Eagles have been wheeling and dealing. They sent offensive lineman Allen Barbre to Denver for a conditional 2018 draft pick as Training Camp opened. They dealt wide receiver Jordan Matthews and a 2018 third-round draft pick for cornerback Ronald Darby on August 11. On Monday, the Eagles traded offensive lineman Matt Tobin and a 2018 seventh-round pick to Seattle for a 2018 fifth-round pick.
What do all the deals mean?
They mean that the Eagles are keeping an eye on the present roster and showing faith in some of their young players. They mean that the Eagles are also peeking ahead and trying to recoup draft picks.
The deals work for now. And for later.
“We know we’re a work in progress,” Howie Roseman said after Tuesday’s joint practice with the Miami Dolphins at the NovaCare Complex. “We’re just trying to get better and to do things that not only will help the team this year but will help the team moving forward.”
The Eagles felt they had good depth along the offensive line with some young, developing players like Isaac Seumalo starting at left guard and tackles Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Dillon Gordon. Both Barbre and Tobin were in the final year of their contracts. Denver and Seattle had needs.
Deals were done as the Eagles, who don’t have picks in the second or third rounds of next year’s draft, stock up on Day 3 options. They now have three fourth-round draft picks – one, from New England, turns into a third-round pick should cornerback Eric Rowe play in 50 percent of the Patriots’ snaps – and two picks in the fifth round.
"You have to be comfortable with some of your other offensive linemen. Both of those guys have played a lot of football for the Philadelphia Eagles, and played winning football,” Roseman said. “They’re not easy trades to make. We had to balance it considering the time they both had on their contracts – both were on one-year deals – and possibly losing some young players not only on the offensive line but at other positions. We were able to get a resource back. That was the thinking that went into those trades."
The biggest trade of the summer was one that sent Matthews and the 2018 third-round pick to Buffalo for Darby. It was a steep price to pay, but the Eagles thought that Darby was a great fit for their defense, and that at age 24 and with two years remaining on his contract, it was worth the price.
, a first-round pick in 2015, has stepped up his game to help replace Matthews’ production.
As Roseman and the personnel department continue to shape this season’s roster, they are also looking at the draft in 2018.
"Day 1, all good. Day 3, we’re really excited about it. Obviously, you look at Day 2 and you’re kind of like, ‘I wish we had some picks.’ Our perspective on that is the No. 2 went for Carson Wentz (in the 2016 trade with Cleveland to move up to No. 2 overall in the draft) and our three went for Ronald Darby,” Roseman said. “Obviously, that’s a simplified way of looking at it and there is more involved in it. We still have an opportunity to get a three back from one of those trades and hopefully that happens and we’ll feel a little bit more complete.
“Our task this offseason was to try to get better at certain positions and also try to build around a 24-year-old quarterback.”
The roster has been rebuilt at the wide receiver and cornerback positions, upgraded along both lines of scrimmage, and changed considerably at running back. It’s all part of the work being done to make the Eagles as good as they can be.
At a time when trade chips are normally kept close to the vest, the Eagles moved. Now, as the preseason draws closer to the end – the Eagles finish next Thursday with a game at the New York Jets and then reduce the roster to 53 players by September 2 – the possibilities for trades still exist.
As Roseman said, the Eagles are a work in progress. The wheeling and dealing, then, is not likely done.