League Executives: 'Philly is doing everything right. ...Still Gotta Draft Players'

Early returns on the Eagles two-year path back to relevancy are positive

PHILADELPHIA - The offseason is still a work in progress for every NFL team but the industry itself is like any other when it comes to opinions: everyone’s got one.

Veteran NFL reporter Mike Sando got a number of league executives to open up about what their peers have accomplished so far in the 2021 offseason.

When it comes to the Eagles, most are already looking ahead to 2022 after Philadelphia took its salary-cap medicine with Carson Wentz and moved down in the first round of the draft, potentially assembling three first-round picks in the 2020 process as long as Wentz can carry his own water in Indianapolis.

“All they’re doing is stockpiling picks for next year, so they can get weapons for Jalen Hurts or acquire one of the top two overall picks to draft a quarterback,” a league executive told Sando, of The Athletic.

“And I would put Philly in the driver’s seat for Russell Wilson next year if Seattle moves him. That would have Howie Roseman written all over it.”

Wilson turns 33 in November and would turn 34 late in the 2022 campaign, but he’s long been thought of as a white whale to the organization after the Eagles missed out on him in the 2012 draft.

Both Andy Reid and Doug Pederson have gone on record saying the Eagles planned to select Wilson with the 76th overall pick that year when Seattle jumped up ahead of Philadelphia to get the now eight-time Pro Bowl selection.

The Eagles dropped down from there and selected Nick Foles at No. 88. 

Ironically, Houston traded into No. 76 to select Brandon Brooks, who eventually got to Philadelphia as a free agent and turned into one of the better right guards in football when healthy.

Other veteran QBs could also be available by 2022 including Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and perhaps an allegation-free Deshaun Watson, but the best-case scenario for the Eagles would be for Hurts to hit a home run as a second-year starter with his opportunity in the upcoming season.

From there the Eagles would have significant assets to build around a cost-effective QB1 still on his rookie deal.

As for Hurts’ 2021 backup, Joe Flacco, one personnel evaluator, didn't get the idea of bringing in a 36-year-old former Super Bowl winner who still wants to compete.

“It makes zero sense,” the evaluator said.

Another saw the method to the madness, seeing the safety net of offering a rookie head coach calling plays for the first time some peace of mind.

The signing of veteran safety Anthony Harris to a cost-effective, one-year deal was greeted with a little more optimism.

“Talented safety — interchangeable, instinctive,” an evaluator told Sando. “I don’t think he is a needle mover, but he will help them.”

Overall, though, the rest of the league sees what Jeffrey Lurie has already explained - a transition phase before the real heavy lifting can begin in 2022.

“Philly is just like Miami, a team that is doing everything right in terms of maneuvering and multiplying assets,” a league executive said. “But they still gotta draft players. Look at Miami’s three first-rounders. Jury’s out on Tua (Tagovaiola). The nickel corner (Noah Igbinoghene) hasn’t done much. Has the tackle (Austin Jackson) played well?”

GM Howie Roseman has smartly set up the two paths - if Hurts excels, great. If he flounders, the Eagles can pounce for either the top rookie QBs in the 2022 draft class or the best veterans available.

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.