Eagles

Eagles remember franchise-changing Marcus Mariota trade that never happened

Eagles remember franchise-changing Marcus Mariota trade that never happened

Remember when the entire city of Philadelphia thought Chip Kelly was going to find a way to trade up and draft Marcus Mariota in 2015? 

The guys in the locker room thought it was going to happen too. 

“I think all of us thought there was a good possibility,” Jordan Matthews said Tuesday. “Why wouldn’t you?”

All those old memories have come rushing back to the few guys still left (or who have returned) in the locker room this week as the Eagles gear up to face Mariota and the Titans Sunday in Nashville. This will be Mariota’s first career game against the Eagles.

Of course, Kelly had coached Mariota at Oregon and Mariota seemed to be the perfect quarterback for Kelly’s offense back then. But in 2015, the Eagles were coming off a 10-6 season and had the 20th pick in the draft. It wasn’t going to be easy to get from 20 to two, where Mariota was picked by the Titans. That was when Kelly was basically the GM and didn’t have the experience to make a move like that. The next offseason, Howie Roseman pulled off a similar set of moves to get the real franchise QB. 

At the time in 2015, though, everyone thought Kelly was going to get this deal done. 

This was the story on sports talk radio for months. 

Brandon Graham even began watching Mariota closer because he thought he was watching the next Eagles quarterback. 

“Yeah, because so much stuff happened before with Chip, letting go of some of the guys,” Graham said. “It’s like, I don’t put it past nothing now. So, yeah, I think he’s a really good quarterback. We just have to make sure we stop their running game.”

In March 2015, Kelly emphatically said that the Eagles would never “mortgage our future” to move up and take Mariota. In the next breath, Kelly called Mariota the best QB in the draft. 

The following offseason, long after Mariota was drafted by the Titans and after Kelly was fired by the Eagles, a report from FOX Sports detailed a trade offer from Kelly to the Titans for the No. 2 pick:  

• First- and second-round picks in 2015
• First-round pick in 2016
• Any quarterback on their roster
• Any defensive player on their roster 

“He looked good,” Graham said, remembering what he saw from Mariota. “I was just like, ‘Hey, if we get him, we get him. Hopefully, we don’t have to give up everything.’ But, you know, he is good, though.”

Matthews pointed out that Nick Foles and Sam Bradford each looked pretty good in Kelly’s offense and the possibility to have a quarterback who was actually a threat to run the ball would have made the offense even more dangerous. That was the thought process of many back in 2015. 

If that insane trade actually went through, it would have changed the entire trajectory of the Eagles’ franchise. The Eagles would have probably tied themselves to Kelly for longer, never drafted Nelson Agholor, Roseman doesn’t get put back in charge, Doug Pederson doesn’t get hired and Carson Wentz doesn’t get drafted to Philadelphia. 

It’s funny to look back at it now. The big trade most Eagles fans were clamoring for just a few years ago, in hindsight, could have been absolutely disastrous.  

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How close were the Eagles to keeping Raheem Mostert?

How close were the Eagles to keeping Raheem Mostert?

Several years before his monster game for the 49ers over the Packers, Raheem Mostert was just another undrafted rookie trying to make the Eagles' roster. Mostert on Sunday became the first player in NFL history with 200 rushing yards and four touchdowns in a playoff game.

Four years ago, he was an Eagle. Here's a story NBC Sports Philadelphia's Reuben Frank wrote on about Mostert's preseason back in August of 2015.

•••

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Just when we were all set to concede a roster spot to Kenjon Barner, Raheem Mostert does this.

Fifteen carries for 69 yards, eight catches for 93 yards and quite a statement that if the Eagles are going to keep a fourth running back, it should be him.

Barner, a third-year pro from Oregon, was terrific the first few games of the preseason, with two punt returns for touchdowns, a 50-yard gain on a screen pass and a rushing touchdown.

Mostert, a rookie from Purdue, has quietly been very good playing in Barner’s shadow, but with Barner getting just a couple touches Thursday night against the Jets, it was Mostert’s turn to shine.

He became the first Eagle in at least 15 years with 60 or more yards both rushing and receiving in the same preseason game.

For what it’s worth, only five Eagles in the last 50 years have had 60 rushing yards and 90 receiving yards in a regular-season game -- Brian Westbrook four times, Wilbert Montgomery three times and Timmy Brown, Ricky Watters and LeSean McCoy once each.

“I was just really trying to focus on the task at hand and trying to make a couple big plays out there and help the team out,” Mostert said at his locker.

“That was my main focus. I thought I did a pretty good job, but there’s always room for improvement. But I really tried my best and that’s all I can do.

“I came in with focus, My mentality was I’m going to stick it out, I’m not going to quit, I’m going to keep fighting, keep pushing, and at the end of the day that’s all anybody ever asks me to do in the NFL.”

Mostert finished the preseason with 351 yards from scrimmage, most by an Eagle in a preseason in at least 20 years.

That’s a ton of yards. Nearly 90 per game.

He averaged 4.0 yards on 39 carries and added 194 yards on 14 catches.

No back in the NFL had as many yards from scrimmage this preseason or as many total yards, including returns. He finished fourth in the NFL this preseason in receiving yards and fifth in rushing yards.

All of which guarantees Mostert absolutely nothing.

Barner’s numbers were impressive too. And with DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles -- three Pro Bowlers -- there may not even be a spot on the 53-man roster for a fourth running back.

Final cuts are due Saturday, but head coach Chip Kelly is expected to trim the Eagles’ roster on Friday afternoon.

“I’m not really too worried about it,” Mostert said. “Whatever happens happens. I’m just going to continue to push and just do my thing. Honestly. I’m not too worried about the cuts. I’m going to just work on what I’ve got to work on, regardless.”

Mostert was a two-time Big East sprint champ in college, but unlike most track guys that come to the NFL, he’s a physical runner, a capable blocker and a polished receiver.

“When you look at some of those track guys, you’re like, ‘OK, they’re fast and that’s about it. They can’t catch, they can’t block,’” Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley said. “He’s totally different. He brings a lot to the table. He’s aggressive, he can block, he can catch.”

There’s a school of thought that Barner, as a third-year pro who’s bounced around the league a bit, will be easier to sneak through waivers if he’s released. So you keep Mostert instead of leaving him unprotected and release Barner, hoping to add him to the practice squad.

The other school of thought says that Barner has done more than enough to warrant a roster spot and you keep him and let Mostert go, hoping nobody claims him, then bring him back on the practice squad.

The only certainty is that Mostert will be somewhere. Either on a 53 or on a practice squad.

Not that he wants to get released and start over somewhere else.

“I definitely think that [I’ll be somewhere], but I’m not going to be happy about it,” he said. “I know I can do a lot more and minimize the mistakes that I’ve had because I’ve had a lot of mistakes.

“It’s all on what I put on film, that’s what really matters. I’ve just got to continue to do the little things right in order to be special and be great for the team.

“Whatever the outcome is, I’m not too worried about it. I’ve just got to keep pushing, keep fighting. … Just to be the ultimate player.”

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Andy Reid’s former Eagles players are thrilled he’s going back to Super Bowl

Andy Reid’s former Eagles players are thrilled he’s going back to Super Bowl

One of Andy Reid’s biggest strengths — one he shares with Doug Pederson — is that his players love him. He connects with them.

That’s why it should come as no surprise that so many of his former players are really happy for him right now as Reid is heading back to the Super Bowl 15 years after he took the Eagles.

It seems like most of Philadelphia will be pulling for the Chiefs in two weeks.

But we also know a bunch of Reid’s former players and co-workers from Philadelphia, some who played in Super Bowl XXXIX, will be rooting hard for Big Red in Super Bowl LIV.

Here were a few of their reactions on Sunday night:

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