Deciphering the Eagles' Trade Back in the First Round

The Eagles acquired assets and time to evaluate Jalen Hurts with Friday's blockbuster
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PHILADELPHIA - There’s rarely a dull moment when your beat is the Philadelphia Eagles and Howie Roseman celebrated the thermometer touching 80 for the first time in the Delaware Valley this spring by trading down in the 2021 draft and, presumably, taking quarterback off the board as a possibility.

The mechanics of the deal had the Eagles slipping back to No. 12 overall in the first round while also acquiring a fourth-round pick (No. 123 overall), and a 2022 first-round pick from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for the sixth overall selection and a 2021 fifth-round pick (No. 156 overall).

What it means is the difficult part to decipher.

The result, however, is that 2021 is now pretty much officially Jalen Hurts’ opportunity with the Eagles.

From there if Hurts plays well in the upcoming season everything is copacetic and you continue to build up around what will be a cost-effective third-year player by 2022  with the potential of three first-round picks in the draft as long as Carson Wentz carries his own water in Indianapolis this season.

If Hurts falters, however, you have all the ammunition you could possibly need to get the flavor of the month at QB in the 2022 draft or pivot and move to acquire an accomplished veteran, maybe the white whale that got away for Philadelphia back in the 2012 draft, Russell Wilson, or a potentially allegation-free Deshaun Watson.

The claim that the Eagles wanted to trade up for Zach Wilson was walked back a bit by Ian Rapoport of NFL Media after originally floating that the Eagles tried to move up to No. 3 to get the former BYU star but that’s probably specious if only because there’s no guarantee that the New York Jets and Joe Douglas won’t be taking Wilson at No. 2.

San Francisco was the team that did move up to the third pick with the Dolphins ping-ponging back to 12 and then up to six again with the Eagles. The Niners will almost assuredly be taking Ohio State’s Justin Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance at No. 3.

The only clear signal here is that Philadelphia wasn’t getting a quarterback it liked at six - be it Wilson or Fields - and the organization wasn’t comfortable with the value of a potential receiver that high whether it be hybrid weapon and Philadelphia native Kyle Pitts or LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase.

The Eagles have long believed that the top 10 is the domain of quarterbacks or for the offensive and defensive lines.

By moving back and focusing on the cornerbacks, the offensive line, or a potential edge rusher at No. 12, the Eagles would be filling a need and adhering to their value structure while also picking up additional assets and an extra 12 months to evaluate a young player with upside at the game’s most important position.

John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Monday and Thursday on The Middle with Eytan Shander, Harry Mayes, former Eagles OT Barrett Brooks streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and SportsMap Radio. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.