PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles’ offseason has been extremely unusual, and there’s no point in pretending otherwise.
That’s what made Eagles owner Jeff Lurie’s comment to Jenny Vrentas of MMQB.com so puzzling. Lurie attempted to explain the Eagles’ QB-centric offseason and it came off just a bit disingenuous.
To recap: The Eagles signed starting quarterback Sam Bradford to a two-year, $35 million contract. They then aggressively pursued backup quarterback Chase Daniel, signing him to a three-year, $21 million deal.
That all made sense. But then the Eagles made three trades to move up from the 13th pick in the NFL draft to the No. 2 pick. They used that pick to draft another quarterback, North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz.
“We see it differently than I guess some other people may,” Lurie told Vrentas at the NFL owners meetings this month. “We see Sam as absolutely the right guy to quarterback the team. We are so rarely able to draft in the top five in the draft. It’s only been twice in about 15 to 20 years.”
Actually, it’s been twice in four years. The Eagles had the No. 4 pick in the 2013 draft. There were no quarterbacks worth selecting that high in that draft, so they used the pick on offensive tackle Lane Johnson. But that’s beside the point. The Eagles rarely have been at the top of the draft since they took Donovan McNabb at No. 2 in 1999.
“So we saw the opportunity,” Lurie said, “and we liked two quarterbacks. We had to make the move to secure having a potential franchise quarterback for many, many years. Having a lot of assets at the most important position in the NFL is a good strategic move for now. And it can only benefit us.”
That is probably the more important point to quibble with. Having three quarterbacks is certainly a good thing, assuming they are three high-quality quarterbacks. And the Eagles may indeed have three high-quality quarterbacks. But they also have a starter who has never had a winning record, a backup who has barely played in his NFL career and a rookie who played at North Dakota State.
If even one of those three turns out to be a legitimate NFL quarterback, the kind who can take a team to the Super Bowl, the Eagles will be very fortunate. And if they are, then that quarterback certainly would have benefited from having the players the Eagles could have acquired with the draft picks they traded for Wentz.
“Because in the NFL,” Lurie said, “it’s the one position you can’t just go get. And so when you have an opportunity, you’ve got to take your shot, and you’ve got to be bold. Otherwise, if you say to yourself, 'You know, it is probably a 50-50 shot that maybe the quarterback will be really good,’ you can't let that deter you. So that’s how I look at it: You either have a really good QB and you compete for the Super Bowl, or you don’t and you are probably not competing for the Super Bowl. And that’s simple.”
Lurie is absolutely right about that part. The issue is whether Bradford or Daniel has any chance to be that kind of quarterback. If so, then it made great sense to sign them. But if either one of them is that quarterback, then there was no reason to trade so many assets to draft Wentz. And if the Eagles don’t know if Bradford or Daniel is that quarterback, then they spent an awful lot of money that could have been better spent elsewhere.
The reality is simple. The Eagles signed Bradford and Daniel when they held the No. 13 pick in the draft. They didn’t know if they could trade up for Wentz, or even whether Wentz was the guy they really wanted. So they made those signings under one set of circumstances, then drafted Wentz under a new set of circumstances. They were able to make the trades that got them from No. 13 to No. 2.
And that’s fine. All Lurie had to say was that’s what happened. By spinning it all as some grand plan, Lurie doesn’t make a convincing case. It just sounds like an owner trying to project the illusion of careful planning on what was clearly an improvisation. It may turn out to be a successful improvisation, but there’s no doubt that it already has caused some problems.
Bradford’s two-week holdout, prompted by the trade up to draft Wentz, was the only real consequence so far. We have yet to see if Bradford can deliver a performance worthy of his contract, and what the Eagles will do with a quality quarterback while Wentz is in waiting. A lot of football has to be played to determine the outcome of this whole process.
However it turns out, though, it’s OK for the Eagles to acknowledge that they made the best choices they could with the facts at hand. When the facts changed, the choices changed. That left them overstocked at the quarterback position, in terms of dollars invested if not in terms of quality.
That will be determined on its own.