Former Jets GM and current ESPN analyst Mike Tannenbaum let the cat out of the bag Thursday, calling the Eagles' interest in embattled Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson an "open secret" around the NFL.
Watson, of course, still has considerable legal hurdles to overcome but Tannenbaum's words are not hollow as multiple sources around the league have told SI.com's Eagle Maven that Philadelphia will be at the front of the line when and if there is more clarity to the Watson situation.
The 25-year-old three-time Pro Bowl quarterback wanted out of Houston before 22 civil allegations arose claiming Watson was essentially a serial predator of masseuses.
To date, no criminal complaints have been alleged against Watson, however, and many around the league are working under the assumption that the former Clemson star will be placed on the Commissioner's Exempt List by the start of training camp later this month.
What is known is that the Texans' have come to grips and understand they need to move Watson whenever that's possible and many teams will be interested even with the expected public relations fallout because young, proven QB's with Watson's talent almost never become available.
From the Eagles' standpoint, they have an owner in Jeffrey Lurie who has consistently believed in giving players second chances and the future draft capital and salary-cap space to be considered among the frontrunners in any potential deal, something another ESPN analyst, Adam Schefter, said when appearing on a Philadelphia-area radio station earlier this week.
“The Eagles are more equipped to make a run at Deshaun Watson than any team out there,” Schefter told 97.5 The Fanatic.
Currently, the NFL is investigating the Watson allegations and there is tremendous uncertainty surrounding the situation although most executives around the league think the best- and worst-case scenarios would range from a short suspension to a year-long suspension. The ultimate expectation is Watson will be permitted to play at some point again, however.
“Let’s see how it plays out first. But, again, what I would say is if there are charges and he gets imprisoned or something happens to that effect, something far-reaching and damaging and awful … like a lot of this stuff seems, then, yeah, well, it’s not happening," Schefter opined. "But I’m operating under the assumption somehow this will be settled.
"Or he will serve his discipline for the league, or whatever punishment he has coming, whatever is fair and just, once that is done, I just think that at that point in time, whenever it is, when he is deemed ready to play by legal authorities, by the National Football League, to me, the Philadelphia Eagles should be waiting.”
They should and will be waiting.
Asked about the potential of Watson to the Eagles back in May if the allegations evaporate by SI.com's Eagles Maven, NFL Network insider Mike Garafolo didn't hesitate.
"I mean faster than the evaporation occurs. There is still liquid," Garafolo joked. "Quickly. [Howie Roseman] is definitely in on it. There's no question about it."
On Thursday, Tannenbaum, who helped Roseman get his start in the NFL by the way, said the Eagles are "absolutely number one to try to acquire Deshaun Watson" and that Philly will be "very aggressive" in trying to get Watson should his legal situation get resolved.
The NFL's worst-kept secret is now an open one.
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.