It was announced last Monday that the Philadelphia Eagles and the New Orleans Saints agreed to terms on a deal that will have massive implications heading into this years NFL Draft.
As the news broke, the folks over here at The Philly Blitz wasted no time giving you a breakdown on the outlook of the trade and the Eagles updated draft selections. Since the terms of agreement have come to light there has been much speculation as to whether New Orleans overpaid, and what is next for both squads. So today we give a thorough look as to what exactly this deal means for both Philadelphia and New Orleans both in the short term and for the future.
For the second time in as many years the Philadelphia Eagles have made a trading involving some sort of pick swap of first round picks, while coming away with premium draft capital for the following season as well. While many may tell you that this was a deal that Philadelphia saw the better side of, it cannot be understated how this exchange gives the Saints just as golden of an opportunity.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Something fishy is going on in New Orleans and the world is trying to figure out exactly what it is. New Orleans is in the midst of an off-season that was supposed to be the final nail in their coffin.
The post-Drew Brees era hasn’t been too fond for those down in the ‘Big Easy’. The Saints began the off-season in salary cap hell, having questions surrounding multiple high profile players and to make matters worse, Sean Payton abruptly retired. Talk about life coming at you fast.
However, if you know the same Mickey Loomis that I know, then it isn’t a surprise to know that salary cap doesn’t exist in New Orleans and he always has a trick up his sleeve.
For a moment that trick was expected to be Deshaun Watson until that deal fell through. Yet in exhausting all avenues to figure out a way to acquire the now Cleveland Browns quarterback, what New Orleans did was open a massive amount of cap space; $29.9 million to be exact. Sadly for New Orleans though, this wave of cash flow came at the expense of some key role players such as safety Marcus Willams and pillars like long time left tackle Terron Armstead.
Luckily the Saints were able to retain defensive coordinator Dennis Allen — promoting him to head coach so there is some sense of continuity. Now with all things considered, a plan of attack is seemingly now in place. So what exactly does this deal mean for New Orleans?
Well, where do we start? Things are brewing quickly in New Orleans and most signs point towards the fact that the Saints are looking to acquire a prime time player in this years draft. Notice we said prime time player because while in most cases when teams give up the amount of capital that the Saints did, its usually with plans of a quarterback in their future. However, the Saint did just resign Jameis Winston to a two-year deal, worth up to $28 million and they also signed veteran quarterback Andy Dalton to a one-year deal a few weeks back.
So unless the Saints are trying to become the modern day quarterback factory (sorry Howie), it doesn’t really seem like quarterback is high on the priority list. Unless of course there is always the option to let the prospect sit and learn. In that instance, New Orleans presents the prefect landing spot, which with significant questions surrounding this year’s quarterback class may not be such a bad idea if you can create the correct environment.
Personally, I believe that the Saints are trying to move up for one of the premier tackles in this class — Neal, Ekwonu, Cross. When you lose a franchise altering tackle like Armstead, you better have an elite level replacement waiting in the wings, and currently the Saints have *checks notes* James Hurst…solid player but he’s certainly going to have a tough time filling those blindside shoes.
The problem here however is the Saints pick at 16 and 19 and barring some unforeseen circumstance none of the top tackles will be there at that time. This means you should be keeping a close eye out for the Saints creeping into the top ten. Keeping a particular eye on the New York Giants at 5th overall. A potential deal that flips picks 16 and 19 for let’s say pick 5, gives the Giants who also pick at 10th overall, a wide array of selections for the new regime to put in place.
Meanwhile, New Orleans would be jumping both division rivals who also pick along the top ten and have needs along the offensive line and quarterback. Not saying that this is the exact landing spot for New Orleans but based on the classic trading chart, it’s certainly plausible.
On the other hand it’s always possible that the Saints just wanted to get ahead of the Los Angeles Chargers who select at 17 and who share some of the same draft needs as New Orleans, along with the aforementioned multitude of teams who could be responsible for the wave of wide receivers between picks 15-22. However that doesn’t necessarily make the most sense as there is still a ways to go until the draft kicks off which leaves Los Angeles or who ever else the Saints looked to back door ample time to make a move countering what New Orleans has done.
Either way the door has been left open for New Orleans to be able to select their preferred prospect via trade or stand pat where they current sit. With this deal though, the Saints have seemingly exhausted their draft capital, with only six pick remaining in the up coming draft, not to mention being without a first round pick in 2023, and second round pick in 2024.
But as we said — Mickey Loomis ALWAYS has something up his sleeve. Who know maybe even a year or so down the line, a certain head coach who New Orleans still retains the rights too, may get the urge to return to coaching. And this wouldn’t be the first time a head coach was traded for significant draft capital.
As mentioned ad-nauseam many times before the trade with New Orleans was announced, there was virtually no chance that Philadelphia would be selecting three times in the first round. It was expected that the Eagles would bank on a team like Kansas City or Green Bay needing to move up to acquire their preferred choice at wide receiver, especially with the stretch of teams from 15 to 21 who are expected to make a run at the draft’s top pass catching prospects.
Instead general manager Howie Roseman was able to capitalize on a Saints team that is rumored to be looking to make a splash come draft day. Doing so, Roseman was able to essentially split the playing field, allocating unnecessary capital into a more fundamentally sound situation, putting Philadelphia in a position to maximize its assets.
Translation: There was no way the Eagles were going to tie themselves to three separate fifth year options in the same season, dating back to both the initial Wentz deal to Indianapolis and the trade last year with Miami that netted them the 15th overall pick this year, the goal was always to be in position to be in line for a high quality prospect at a particular position. It just so happens that the particular position doesn’t really provide a surplus in this draft class. So once again, you kick the can down the road acquiring another quality asset that you hope plays a significant role in acquiring a player at the position which you’re looking for (see the ‘23 QB class).
Now with all that being said, where does that leave Jalen Hurts?
For starters, this essentially guarantees that Jalen Hurts will be the starting quarterback for at least the 2022 season. Now let’s be clear, by no means was everything stated before in regards to the front office’s views of the position and it’s future, a formality especially given the fact the Eagles want Jalen Hurts to succeed.
Head Coach Nick Sirianni has spoken highly of Hurts on numerous occasions, stating his expectations of Hurts development to continue trending in the right direction. Howie Roseman has done the same, and Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has recently given Hurts his own stamp of approval.
“Now we have a young 23-year-old playoff quarterback, who gets better every year in college and in the pros. He’s had really one full year,” he said. “No one knows where that’s going to end up, but I think what you do know is you have a guy that is incredibly dedicated, excellent leader of men … players around him gravitate to him. He will do everything and anything to get better and work on every weakness he has and try to maximize every strength he has… That’s why we’re committed to Jalen at age 23. Who knows what the future holds, right?”
I often say that in order for a quarterback to truly be successful in this league, it takes an organizational commitment from top to bottom. It’s already clear that Hurts has the utmost support from the locker room.
With him having the opportunity to stay in the same offense for the first time since high school, the coaching staff has a clear plan in place for continued success coming off a playoff appearance, all that was (and still is to an extent) was the approval of the higher-ups.
Now it goes without saying that it’s no secret Hurts has to improve in certain areas as a passer. He’s been rumored to be working out with a trainer in California to clean up those areas. Development is no linear equation and it’s almost impossible to truly tell the trajectory of one’s career but history is on the right side in regards to Hurts’ continued improvement.
And despite public belief no one would like Hurts to take the next step more than the Eagles brass; Philadelphia has a golden opportunity with two first round picks in each of the next two drafts and a massive draft haul in general to set up a bright future in Philadelphia.
Featured Image Credit: AP Photo/Michael Perez