Eagles

Eagles mailbag: Should Eagles pursue Deshaun Watson or wait?

Eagles

After a long summer full of change, the Eagles will report for training camp on Tuesday and will host their first full-team practice on Wednesday.

It’s an exciting time around the NFL.

Once this upcoming week gets going, even though expectations will be tempered for this Eagles team, we’re going to feel the energy of having NFL football back.

So it’s no surprise that I asked for questions and you guys had plenty. Let’s get to it:

All eyes will be on Jalen Hurts when the Eagles open camp on Tuesday but many Eagles fans are busy thinking about Deshaun Watson. That makes plenty of sense.

This is a good question, Tim. Because when a team has a young quarterback, I’m all for maximizing that window to win. Heck, we’ve already seen the Eagles do that and they kind of pulled it off in 2017. Obviously, Nick Foles took the Eagles across the finish line but that team was built on the strength of a talented (and cheap!) young quarterback with a good team around him. I think of it as the Russell Wilson model. The Seahawks won the Super Bowl following a similar team build. They had a cheap, young and talented quarterback, which allowed them to spend cap space elsewhere and build a winner.

The real question is this: Are the Eagles willing to possibly miss out on Watson to find out what they have in Hurts?

We already know there’s some obvious skepticism about whether or not Hurts can be a franchise quarterback. Honestly, no one really knows if he’ll become that franchise guy or not. If he could become that, then you’re right, the Eagles might be better off building around him using the same draft picks that it would likely take to get a guy like Watson. So is a cheap Hurts+those picks a better option than having an expensive Watson? It’s an impossible question to answer without knowing how good Hurts is.

 

Here’s what we do know: Watson is an elite quarterback and there aren’t many elite quarterbacks in the NFL. Really, how many are there? Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and … Watson. You could argue that Josh Allen is in that group, but let’s see him do it for a second season. Watson is a 25-year-old, three-time Pro Bowler coming off his best NFL season and entering the prime of what might be a Hall of Fame career. He’s obviously more expensive than Hurts and it would take a ton to get him. There aren’t many sure things in the NFL. Here’s what I’m sure of: Watson is a great football player and the Eagles even in their wildest dreams probably can’t envision Hurts becoming as good as him. For a team that values the position like the Eagles, getting an elite quarterback is a huge deal.

I get your point about wanting to find out what Hurts is and this isn’t a knock on Hurts at all: But I think the Eagles would be crazy if they didn’t at least show some interest in Watson.

Of course, this is just looking at it from a football standpoint. We haven’t talked about the 20+ civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault that Watson is facing. Those are serious allegations, so the Eagles — if they’re interested — should obviously be monitoring that situation very closely. If they’re interested in Watson and want to make a play for him, then they’ll have to review what they know and the decision will be made at the highest levels. If you’re against the Eagles trading for Watson because of these allegations, I totally understand. If you’re against it from a football standpoint, I have to question it more.

But, remember, even before these allegations, Watson was already demanding a trade. He has said pretty confidently that he will not play for the Texans again. The Eagles are not above trying to take advantage of a team that might need to unload a great player. Not sure how much of a discount they’d get on Watson, but if we know anything about Howie Roseman, it’s that he’s not afraid to splash. And if we know anything about the Eagles, it’s that they value the quarterback position more than just about any other team in the league.

This week, I will have a stories on 10 offensive players and 10 defensive players to watch at training camp. So keep an eye out for those.

 

The nice thing about training camp, at least for me, is how much I get to watch. It’s the only time of the year reporters get to watch every moment of practice and I try not to waste a minute of it. I’ll be there every day, which allows me to divide my time and see a bit of everything. But if you’re asking what’s at the top of my mind, here are three things:

1. Jalen Hurts: Yeah, I want to see every pass he throws. And I want to see what kind of offense Nick Sirianni has created for him.

2. Jordan Mailata vs. Andre Dillard: We know most of the Eagles’ 22 starters but there’s a legitimate competition for that left tackle job. And it’s an incredibly intriguing one. The former first-round pick who’s already faced adversity vs. the former rugby player who is still learning the sport. Sign me up.

3. First-year head coach: While most training camp practices look similar to an untrained eye, there are always differences from coach to coach, so it’ll be fun to see what Sirianni changes in Year 1. It won’t be anything like the differences between Chip Kelly and normal coaches but Sirianni’s practices will be different than Doug Pederson’s. And we’ll also see how this young and relatively inexperienced coaching staff handles their first camp.

If you missed the news this week, former Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks was sentenced to one day in jail and three years of probation on those insider trading charges from a few years ago. So it sounds like he’ll be able to resume his NFL career.

Does it make sense for it to be in Philly? Probably not. The Eagles aren’t in a great situation at linebacker but Kendricks is 30 years old and signing him would potentially block a younger player from getting snaps in a year we know is a rebuilding season. Maybe Kendricks would make the Eagles slightly better but the Eagles would be better off giving those snaps to Davion Taylor, Shaun Bradley or JaCoby Stevens.

I’ll give you a few names: Dallas Goedert, Josh Sweat, Jordan Mailata.

All three are entering contract seasons and all three could be in the future plans. When we talked to Goedert in the spring, he mentioned that negotiations were ongoing. It’s tough to figure out how much Goedert is worth, though. Because he thinks of himself as a top tight end but the numbers don’t say that yet. The Eagles would probably like to pay him for what he’s done, but Goedert surely wants to be paid for what he’s going to do. That seems like a tricky negotiation with a lot of factors.

If Mailata wins the left tackle job over Dillard, I could see the Eagles almost rewarding him with a contract and possibly trading Dillard. This competition feels like a battle to be the future left tackle of the team, so if Mailata wins it, maybe the Eagles will go all in.

 

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