My life has been consumed with the idea of Bryce Harper recruiting Eagles superfan (and two-time AL MVP) Mike Trout to come join the Phillies in 2021. With tampering ever-present in my mind, I look at why the Phils should continue their pursuit of Trout and a handful of other athletes that Philadelphia teams should begin tampering with right now. I’ve also taken it upon myself to anoint a current Philly player as the one to lead the tampering charge. Here we go:
The Holy Grail of Philly Tampering. The Prince Who Was Promised. I wrote yesterday that Harper’s courting of Trout and the Angels’ subsequent hissy fit is not only hilarious, but a completely fruitless endeavor. As a man who was once convinced that Nick Foles would be disastrous in the playoffs last winter and that Markelle Fultz would a perennial All-NBA guard, I’ve never been more sure of anything than the fact that Trout will be in red pinstripes at Citizens Bank Park on Opening Day 2021.
Keep putting the squeeze on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California of the West Coast, Bryce. The Angels’ complaints about tampering are only delaying the inevitable.
Top Tamperer: Harper obviously.
“Legal” tampering begins on Monday for NFL free agency, but that shouldn’t stop the Eagles from getting in on Le’Veon Bell’s good side before then. I have no real sense of what Bell’s market will be this month. Will his refusal to suit up last season hamper how much he can cash in?
Maybe the market sours on Bell and he is only able to take a one-year deal, much like Alshon Jeffery did two years ago. During the 2016 season, the Eagles kicked the tires on trying to acquire Jeffery from the Bears mid-year only to sign him once free agency came. The Eagles were rumored to be interested in trading for Bell last fall. With Howie Roseman’s wizardry at the Birds’ disposal, I wouldn’t count out history repeating itself.
Top Tamperer: Cre’Von LeBlanc. I would trust Cre’Von to do my taxes, dogsit my pit-terrier mix Bruce and with my life overall. If he wants to head the committee to have Bell make the move towards Eastern Pennsylvania, as he’s already made known on Twitter, there may be no man more more capable of the job.
Yet another installment in a guy who seemed destined to play in Philadelphia. Earl Thomas is Former Next Dawkins. Roseman and the Eagles may have overplayed their hand by extending Rodney McLeod’s contract ahead of what will be a crowded safety market this offseason, but what if the franchise pursues another vet at the position in free agency?
I’m obviously diving into wild hypotheticals, but what if the Birds let Jordan Hicks walk as a free agent and essentially play Big Dime with three safeties as their base formation? Jim Schwartz loved utilizing that package during the franchise’s Super Bowl-winning campaign two years ago with a healthy McLeod and a not-yet-washed-up Corey Graham opposite Malcolm Jenkins. It also serves as a proactive depth move with McLeod coming off a season-ending knee injury in case he doesn’t quite return to his 2017 form.
Top Tamperer: Brandon Graham. A sizeable portion of the Eagles fan base still held ill will towards Graham before 2017 on account of him being Not Earl Thomas, as the safety was a presumed and popular choice for the Eagles in the 2010 NFL Draft. Graham was selected one pick ahead of Thomas. Time is a flat circle. BG should help bring Thomas along for the Eagles’ next ride to the postseason with both players looking for their second Super Bowl ring.
Imagine a world where the Lakers selected Jahlil Okafor instead of D’Angelo Russell with the second pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, allowing Russell to fall to the Sixers with third-overall selection. His silky smooth offensive game would’ve been a perfect match to develop alongside both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Elton Brand and the Sixers have a chance to right the wrongs of the Okafor era and pursue D’Angelo Russell in restricted free agency this summer.
If the Nets were to decide in favor of keeping cap flexibility for superstar-level talent this summer, the Sixers should absolutely make a move on Russell. I’m sort of over the Jimmy Butler Experience and the negative energy that’s persisted around the team in 2019. Let’s say the Sixers let him walk, clear some cap space and hit “Voodoo” Russell with an offer sheet. They’d have Russell, Embiid, Simmons, JJ Redick and Tobias Harris as they fight for a Finals berth in 2020. Sign me up for that.
Top Tamperer: Duh, Embiid. The social media king may have learned from his mistake of recruiting LeBron James over the years and he should turn his attention to a more attainable target. Russell was briefly high school teammates with Embiid (and later Simmons) at Montverde Academy in Florida. The school’s mascot is an Eagle, so the stars have clearly aligned and there’s 100 percent chance of this happening. Go Birds.
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