We see it all the time during the lead-up to free agency and the draft, or whenever a big star might be on the trade block. Eagles fans unite around a player, often creating a clamoring for said athlete, only for the team to go in a different direction.
If only the Eagles listened to the vocal majority of fans wanted all the time... the roster might look a little something like the Seattle Seahawks' right now.
Quite a few high-profile players who were on Eagles fans' wish lists at one time or another have found their way to Seattle. The steady migration of talk-radio darlings and subjects of keyboard rumor mongers to the Seahawks is less a sign of philosophical differences in roster building, and more a rather amazing coincidence. Still, it's interesting to reflect on those misses, and how they impact the Eagles today.
After all, the Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 2013, and almost repeated in '14. But the Eagles are 10-1 today, and nestled comfortably in the driver's seat in the NFC as they head to Seattle for Sunday's showdown.
Eagles fans wanted: Earl Thomas
Eagles got: Brandon Graham
Ah, the infamous 2010 draft, and perhaps the most prominent example. In dire need of a safety to replace Brian Dawkins, the Eagles traded up 11 spots to No. 13 overall and chose defensive end Brandon Graham. One pick later, Seattle moved up to snatch Earl Thomas.
For the longest time, this looked like a horrible decision. Graham suffered a torn ACL toward the end of his rookie season and required microfracture surgery, then found himself buried on the depth chart after a lengthy recovery. In the meantime, Thomas was named to five consecutive Pro Bowls and helped the Seahawks win a championship.
Eight years later, the jury is still out on who got the better of that scenario. Thomas continues to play at a high level, but Graham is seemingly getting better every year, transforming into one of the best all-around linemen in the league. Furthermore, the Eagles are doing fine today with Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod manning the safety positions.
There's no telling how Graham's career might've panned out had not been seriously injured. But in 2017, the comparison to Thomas looks more like a push.
Eagles fans wanted: Russell Wilson
Eagles got: Nick Foles
According to multiple accounts, the Eagles did have their eyes on Russell Wilson in the 2012 draft. They simply waited too long.
The Eagles took Vinny Curry in the second round, reportedly believing Wilson would last late into the third. Not quite. The Seahawks swooped in for the quarterback 13 choices before the Eagles were back on the clock. They wound up with Nick Foles instead.
Obviously, there is no comparison between Wilson and Foles. Wilson won a Super Bowl, and could very well end up with more than one before his career is said and done. Foles is capable of playing at a high level when given a tremendous supporting cast – see 27 touchdowns and two interceptions in 2013 – but is not uniquely gifted in the mold of a Wilson.
Of course, had the Eagles drafted Wilson, they more than likely would've had no need to move up for Carson Wentz years later. There's no guarantee Wilson would've won a Super Bowl on a less talented squad here, while Wentz is beginning to resemble a generational talent, albeit in his second season. This is probably going to work out just fine.
Eagles fans wanted: Dion Jordan
Eagles got: Lane Johnson
To be fair, Eagles fans were at best split on Dion Jordan with the fourth pick overall in the 2013 draft. There was no denying Jordan was a physical marvel – 6-foot-6, 248 pounds with 4.6 speed – but his production in college was lacking with 14.5 sacks in four seasons. Yet, there was some sentiment he was the best choice for incoming coach Chip Kelly, who coached Jordan at the University of Oregon.
The Eagles never got to make that decision, as Jordan went one pick earlier to the Dolphins at No. 3. He then proceeded to spend more time out of the league than in, with numerous injuries and PED suspensions.
Jordan signed with the Seahawks in April, and just recently played in his first two NFL games since 2014 before landing on the injury report again. While Lane Johnson has had some brushes with the league’s PED policy and missed some time as a result, he’s been on the field a lot more than Jordan, and played at a much higher level.
Whether Jordan turns his career around or not, he has a long way to go to catch Johnson, who appears to be well on his way to his first Pro Bowl or All-Pro honors in '17.
Eagles fans wanted: Byron Maxwell
Eagles got: Byron Maxwell
Be careful what you wish for. The Eagles needed a cornerback in the worst way in 2015 (and for the better part of a decade, in all honesty), so under Kelly's direction, they went out and signed the top corner on the free-agent market. The problem is, Byron Maxwell had a limited body of work, not to mention as a member of a Seahawks secondary surrounded by Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman.
Maxwell spent one roller-coaster season with the Eagles before he was traded in a cost-cutting move. He lasted slightly longer with the Dolphins before his release in October, and wound up landing back in Seattle a few weeks ago – desperately needed assistance for a banged-up defensive backfield.
Some of the red flags were visible before the Eagles landed Maxwell. Others such as his less-than-stellar attitude and demeanor were less apparent until his performance came under the microscope as a high-priced member a mediocre team. But need at corner superseded any questions at the time, and the Eagles outbid all other suitors in the free-agent sweepstakes.
Sometimes, it's actually a good thing to not get what you want. Then again, the Maxwell trade did help the Eagles obtain more ammunition in their move for Wentz, so maybe it wasn't all bad.
Eagles fans wanted: Richard Sherman
Eagles got: Ronald Darby
Reportedly on the trade block leading up to the draft, the Seahawks ultimately opted to hang on to Richard Sherman despite some apparent interest in the NFL. Can't blame them for looking at the offers, and deciding they were better off making another run at a ring with him than without.
It's unclear whether the Eagles were among the teams involved, and predictably felt the price was too high, but their actions months later suggested they may have at least inquired. Instead, they wound up landing Ronald Darby from the Bills, who is not only an ascending talent, but a younger, cheaper alternative to Sherman.
The part nobody could've predicted at the time was a season-ending injury to Sherman. But the Eagles might've been better off regardless, as Sherman has also made his name in Seattle's Cover 3 defense, while Darby's experience level made him more prone to being molded.
Injury aside, Darby was a better option for the Eagles, even if Sherman was the more acclaimed talent. Sherman may have a ring and been a key piece of an all-time great defense, but Darby has the potential to be part of the Eagles' foundation for years to come.