While I normally use this space to discuss the issues related to player representation and evaluation, occasionally, I like to turn it over to friends well-qualified to discuss various issues. Today, former Titans team executive Blake Beddingfield analyzes this week’s big deal between New Orleans and Philadelphia.
The trade between the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints three weeks before the draft says a lot about each team. I love these trades because they show two teams and front offices that are confident in their respective team-building approaches and how they individually view this draft and how they can upgrade their teams.
First, the trade: the Saints received the Nos. 16 and 19 picks in the first round and the No. 194 pick in the 6th round of the 2022 draft. The Eagles received the No. 18 pick in the first round, along with the 101st pick in the 3rd round and 237th pick in the 7th round. Also, they were able to acquire New Orleans’ first-round pick in 2023 and their second-rounder in 2024. Let’s look at how the trade benefits each team.
The Saints part of the trade allows them to take two different avenues with those first two selections. First, the Saints now have the ammunition to trade up into the top 10 of the first round and take the young quarterback that can be a long-term replacement for future hall of famer Drew Brees. The Saints struggled down the stretch in 2021 after a serviceable Jameis Winston was lost for the season due to injury.
Based on the offseason trades of Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson, along with a big new contract for Aaron Rodgers, NFL teams have realized they can’t win the Super Bowl without a top quarterback. To wit: Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes and Matthew Stafford have won the last three Super Bowls.
Most personnel people (including myself) do not see a quarterback in the 2022 draft worth the draft capital it would take to trade into the top 10. That is why I question the Saints acquiring the extra picks to move up to select a QB. Could they sit at pick 16 and get their future signal-caller while also having an extra selection to upgrade their roster? It’s possible.
The second road the Saints can take is to use those first-rounders to acquire youth and upgrade a roster that has gotten older while replacing some long-term starters that left in free agency. Cameron Jordan, a Pro Bowl regular at defensive end, will be 33 this season. Wide receiver Michael Thomas is 29 and has back-to-back, injury-riddled seasons. Also, linebacker Demario Davis, another standout defensive player, is 33. With two first-rounders, the team could replace the left tackle they lost in free agency, Terron Armstead, and add a wide receiver or pass rusher. The 2022 draft has enough left tackles, wide receivers and pass rushers to give the team the confidence they could shore up two of those three positions with the 16th and 19th selections. This would allow Winston to continue to quarterback the team, add youth and also position the team for a future run in a division that doesn’t have a clear long-term leader presuming Brady doesn’t play for another decade.
I feel the Saints are looking for sustainability, and replacing Armstead and adding another playmaker is the way to go. My guess is that the Saints are not looking to package the picks to take a rookie quarterback who may or may not be a franchise player.
Now the Eagles.
The Eagles side of the trade is obvious. The Eagles continue to acquire future draft choices to sustain roster-building and youth, because of the current draft capital they have. Trades with the Colts (they acquired a 2022 first-rounder for Carson Wentz) and the Dolphins (also giving them a 2022 first-rounder), they still have plenty of ammo in the ’22 draft with two first-rounders, one second, two third-rounders and a total of 10 selections.
Eagles GM Howie Roseman has done a very good job of acquiring these current and future selections. Philly can upgrade its pass rush and offensive line and add another playmaker on offense with its first three selections.
Very rarely is a trade on paper good for both teams, but in this case I believe both teams benefit from the early draft-day trade.