The NFL Trade Deadline has come and gone. Despite all the rumors saying Howie Roseman was ready to do “something fun”, the only move that was made by the Philadelphia Eagles’ General Manager was trading a 2021 4th round pick to the Cleveland Browns for 2nd-year EDGE Genard Avery (more on him in a bit). The lack of movement for any of the premier names rumored to be on the market is disappointing, to say the least. There just wasn’t anything to get overly excited over. However, just as I stated in my article from last week about Roseman’s draft resume, assessing his decision to “stay pat” isn’t as black and white as it might seem.
First, let’s look at the move that Roseman did make before the deadline hit. Genard Avery isn’t a name that most fans are familiar with, and understandably so. He logged nearly 700 snaps, 40 tackles, 14 quarterback hits, 4.5 sacks, 4 pass deflections, and 1 forced fumble in his rookie season of 2018. According to PFF, Avery ranked 2nd amongst rookie EDGE defenders in pressure rate behind only Bradley Chubb.
Despite all that though, Avery’s been a healthy scratch for most of the 2019 season. But it hasn’t been because of a decline in performance but rather the change in defensive coordinators from Gregg Williams to Steve Wilks. The new scheme and philosophy resulted in fewer opportunities for Avery to get onto the field over others. Consequently, that made him expendable and a prime target for Roseman who reportedly targeted him in last year’s NFL Draft.
There has been a little confusion over what Avery’s position is. But make no mistake, he is an EDGE which is a defensive end in a 4-3 front and an outside linebacker in a 3-4 front. Avery has experience playing off-ball and standing up during his time at Memphis, but he lacks the movement and change of direction skills required to play that way at the pro level. Avery is at his best when he’s rushing the passer off the edge. He’s similarly built to Brandon Graham; short and stocky with thick muscle mass. He possesses impressive explosiveness and bend when turning the corner. Pair that with the natural leverage he brings, and you’ve got a speed rusher that is an ideal fit for what Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz likes to do.
Roseman gave up a higher pick than initially thought, but if Avery turns out to be the good rotational pass rusher that he’s expected to be then the cost was worth it. Plus, Cleveland Browns fans seem to be very upset that they only received a 4th round pick for Avery. That’s something to take note of.
The Eagles traded for Genard Avery this afternoon, a player with explosive traits who can explode upfield and turn the corner. He’s got legit juice off the edge and joins a team where he can just fly upfield and wreak havoc as a subpackage rusher. #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/4vHRG23krc
— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) October 28, 2019
Avery isn’t the name that Eagles fans wanted though. You could argue that he’s not even one of the top positions they wanted Roseman to trade for. Interior defensive line and wide receiver seemed to be the two at the top of most wish lists. Cornerback was another position mentioned often, while some were even open to bringing in a linebacker. Below is a list of the main players that were rumored to be trade targets for the Eagles over the past week or so leading up to the deadline:
= WR Robby Anderson, NY Jets =
Anderson made the most sense out of all the names rumored. He’s a deep threat that would have provided insurance for DeSean Jackson, he’s a pending free agent that doesn’t seem to be part of the long-term plans for the Jets, and he isn’t that big of a name where he would demand a very high price tag. The Eagles’ front office offered a 3rd round pick for Anderson at the trade deadline last season, so it was safe to assume that they’d try with that once again. However, the Jets wanted a 2nd round pick for Anderson which was higher than any team was comfortable giving up, and rightfully so.
= WR Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos =
Reports say that the Eagles were one of the top teams in the run for Sanders, but the San Francisco 49ers ended up winning out. They sent a 3rd rounder and 4th rounder (both in 2020) for Sanders and a 2020 5th rounder. For a 32-year old WR that is in the final year of his contract, that price is a bit too steep and I don’t blame Roseman for not bidding higher. The 49ers could afford to spend that draft capital for Sanders though because of their current record and the fact that their receiving corps is full of younger guys. The missing piece was a veteran receiver to add to the WR room, therefore the trade made complete sense for them.
= CB Chris Harris, Denver Broncos =
Sanders wasn’t the only Broncos player whose name was being heavily circulated. Roseman had made several calls to the Broncos to see what it would cost to attain the talented corner. Harris is 30 years old and is another player in the final year of his contract, so trading for him would have been risky. Ultimately the price was too high and no move was made.
= CB Darius Slay, Detroit Lions =
After the Lions traded Quandre Diggs to the Seattle Seahawks, Slay was openly critical of the move. As a result, the team became open to offers for their disgruntled corner. Just like with Harris though, the asking price was too high.
= CB Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals =
Roseman made offers to the Cardinals in weeks prior but the Cardinals remained adamant in their stance of not wanting to trade away their long-time franchise CB.
= iDL Leonard Williams, NY Jets =
There were no reports that Roseman and the Eagles were interested in Williams, but it was assumed that if they were inquiring about Anderson then asking for Williams as well would be reasonable. As it turns out, the NY Giants were the only team that showed any interest and ended up giving the Jets a 2020 3rd rounder and a 2021 5th rounder. For a former 1st round pick who has been wildly inconsistent since his rookie season and hasn’t lived up to expectations yet, that price tag is too rich for my taste.
There are a ton of other names that have been thrown out there and speculated, but the truth is we don’t know for sure which of them Roseman made calls for. But considering the asking price for all of them, I can’t say that not making a move was a bad decision on Roseman’s part. Making a trade just to make a trade isn’t wise, especially considering the age of this team.
One of the biggest criticisms of this roster has been the lack of elite or great young talent. If that issue is going to be fixed then Roseman is going to need a good number of picks on hand, which hasn’t been the case in 2018 and 2019. And if you want to make the argument that he’s been bad at drafting each season, that’s incorrect. The 2017 draft class was a big failure, but he hit on the 2016 draft and the 2018 class has been good so far.
As we look back at the 3 draft classes, it’s a mixed big back of results.
— A2D Radio (@a2dradio_com) October 26, 2019
If you want to criticize Roseman for not being aggressive and pulling the trigger on a trade, then you need to point to what happened way before the deadline was approaching. There were 3 players specifically that Roseman missed out on earlier in the season that would have been great additions to the roster: Jadeveon Clowney, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Jalen Ramsey. They’re all still young enough to build the team with for years to come.
The Seahawks acquired Jadeveon Clowney for a 3rd round pick, Barkevious Mingo, and Jacob Martin. That is a very reasonable cost for the caliber of player that Clowney is, even with the risk of him not signing a contract extension at the end of the season. One of the biggest problems the Eagles have had is not being able to rush the passer as well as seasons past and that is the most important element of Schwartz’s defensive scheme. Clowney would have given the defense a consistent penetrating presence on the edge. He even named the Eagles as one of the two teams he wanted to be traded to. Instead, he ended up with the other team.
With the Miami Dolphins tanking for the 2019 season, they made their 2018 1st round pick Mink Fitzpatrick available via trade to gain more draft capital. The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to acquire him, a 2020 4th round pick, and a 2021 7th round pick in exchange for a 1st and 5th round pick in 2020 and a 6th round pick in 2021. Fitzpatrick showed during his rookie season to be a versatile defensive back capable of playing in any spot in the secondary. He could have been a perfect replacement for Malcolm Jenkins, whom he has stated he modeled his game after. Plus, the Eagles are his favorite football team. It made too much sense, which made not getting him so much tougher to accept.
Jalen Ramsey was the main target that many Eagles fans wanted. The best CB in the league became available after he had a fallout with the Jacksonville Jaguars coaches and management. Roseman reportedly contacted the Jaguars every week to land the star CB. And even when the Los Angeles Rams offered two 1st round picks and a 2021 4th round pick for him, Roseman was given an opportunity to match it; he passed on the opportunity. Some feel as though the Rams gave up too much for Ramsey, but I disagree. It’s not that often you can get a true elite talent at a position of major need. Ramsey would have been worth it.
We’ve come to know Roseman as one of the most aggressive general managers in the league, if not the most aggressive. That’s why it’s been odd to see him pass up on all these opportunities to grab young and talented players at a reasonable price. Having draft picks to help build the roster for the future is important, but it’s not as though any of the 3 players mentioned were old or past their prime. Also, the value of having a known quantity (the players) usually has a lot more weight than the value of having an unknown quantity (draft picks).
Where does the team go from here? In a season that has once again been filled with injury, frustration, and even some drama, they’re going to have to move forward with essentially the same group of guys they put their faith in to begin the season. Aside from Malik Jackson, all the key players that were lost to injury are expected to be back in the lineup soon. Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby have already made their returns to the starting lineup. DeSean Jackson, Timmy Jernigan, and Avonte Maddox made their returns to practice this week. Nigel Bradham shouldn’t be out for too much longer. Maybe Roseman new that reinforcements were coming soon and that gave him more assurance that not forcing a deal at the deadline was the right thing to do. We’ll probably ask “what if” when it comes to Clowney, Fitzpatrick, and Ramsey for a while. But Roseman constructed the roster for this season this way, and he’s chosen to follow the well-known phrase from 2017, “We all we got, we all we need.”
We shall see.