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.