PHILADELPHIA – It never hurts – not Jalen – to look ahead, and what better time and place than right now, with four games down and another four to go before the Nov. 2 trade deadline, and while sitting in an airport with time to kill before flying to Charlotte.
It’s where the Eagles will play as close to a must-win game in early October as it gets considering what lies ahead before Halloween, meeting the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at 1 p.m. (FOX).
The Panthers are 3-1, but their resume suggests they are beatable. They have taken out the New York Jets, Houston Texans, and New Orleans Saints. Not quite the schedule the Eagles have had to play so, far against the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs.
Both teams have faced the Dallas Cowboys and neither fared well.
The Eagles are desperate, in the throes of a three-game losing streak with Tampa Bay and Las Vegas looming next on the schedule.
A 1-3 record could easily become 1-6 before closing the month with a trip to still-winless Detroit.
Then comes the trade deadline. It comes after Week 8, not quite the halfway point in a 17-game trek but still enough to know whether teams will be buyers or sellers.
The Eagles could potentially have some items to sell.
Here are five:
Zach Ertz. The tight end would prefer to remain in Philadelphia, but he is in the final year of a contract the Eagles may have no interest in extending.
Ertz has been the consummate teammate, so far, helpful with the younger players and willing to play a reduced role behind Dallas Goedert, who is also in the final year of his rookie contract.
The tight end tops this list because Sunday’s opponent has openly expressed the need for a tight end and they recently traded Dan Arnold in order to acquire CB C.J. Henderson from Jacksonville Carolina brought in another CB, acquiring Stephon Gilmore, and this is on top of having drafted Jaycee Horn in the top 10 last spring.
Horn is out for the season, but Carolina still has a cupboard full of corners, including Donte Jackson, a second-round pick from LSU in 2018, and veteran A.J. Bouye, who signed a two-year free-agent deal and has a manageable salary cap hit of $4.7 million in 2022; more manageable than Darius Slay, who will count $22M against the cap next year and $23M in 2023.
Darius Slay. The Eagles could accelerate the development of rookie Zech McPhearson if the Eagles were to trade Slay to, say, the CB-needy Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Fletcher Cox. The team’s most expensive player isn’t producing, so far. Whether it’s the natural decline of a player who turns 31 in December or the perplexing scheme of rookie defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, may not matter.
A veteran D-lineman with a skillset that Cox still possesses in some form would be a big add for a playoff-contending team.
Derek Barnett. It became apparent that the 2017 first-round pick isn’t part of the Eagles’ long-term plans when they extended the contract of Josh Sweat prior to Week 2. His proclivity to injury and foolish personal foul penalties have worn thin.
Miles Sanders. OK, a real longshot, but the RB would likely bring a pretty good return since he is just 24 and still signed at a very reasonable number in 2022.
The Eagles have RB that seems to better fit the scheme head coach Nick Sirianni wants to play in rookie Kenny Gainwell and another player on the practice squad in Jason Huntley, who had more than 2,000 yards rushing and 134 catches in four seasons at New Mexico State.
Also, with all the draft capital the Eagles will have, they can always go looking for another running back.
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 or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.