Even as Carson Wentz struggles, Eagles should not be buyers at the NFL trade deadline
PHILADELPHIA – There are many reasons the Eagles should not try to acquire a veteran player to fill a position of need, whether it's on the offensive line, at running back, linebacker or defensive back.
All those reasons were apparent Sunday night in the Eagles' 23-9 win over the quarterback-challenged Dallas Cowboys.
Sure, the Eagles are in first place in the NFC East, even with their unimpressive 3-4-1 record. And one could make the argument that with a home playoff game, and you never know what can happen, why not take a shot?
But this team isn't ready to challenge for a Super Bowl. Not even close. And a trade before the deadline Tuesday afternoon just isn't worth it.
A quick aside: Yes, the Eagles should be sellers, but they don't have anyone to sell. Tight end Zach Ertz would likely have brought back a mid-round draft pick, but the Eagles can't trade him because he's on injured reserve.
Same with wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
Good luck finding a team willing to trade for Alshon Jeffery, who has yet to play this season and has an exorbitant contract.
Maybe defensive tackle Malik Jackson or safety Will Parks could bring back a late-round pick. But that's negligible.
So this is what the Eagles have, and it's not awful. They're just a year or two away.
THE HARD WAY:Nothing is easy for Pederson, Eagles
All of it, however, is contingent on quarterback Carson Wentz not being terrible, as he admitted Sunday after turning the ball over four more times. He has 16 turnovers this season – 12 interceptions and four lost fumbles – the most in the NFL.
“I’m not good enough," Wentz said. "I can be better. I know I will be."
But look further.
The Eagles have budding stars at wide receiver in Travis Fulgham and first-round pick Jalen Reagor. Fulgham, who was on the practice squad one month ago, had 6 catches for 78 yards and a touchdown on Sunday.
In five games, Fulgham has 29 catches for 435 yards and 4 touchdowns. As a comparison, Jeffery led the Eagles' wide receivers with 490 yards – for the entire season.
It sure seems like the Eagles aren't planning to do much, if anything. For one, COVID-19 protocols require at least five days of testing before a new player is even allowed into the building.
Then there's time needed to get him familiar with the offense or defense.
"You’re always going to take a look and see if there’s an opportunity to help your football team," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Monday. "But again, it just kind of goes back to what I’ve been saying. This is a great opportunity for us as a team to get better this week, get healthy this week, and really focus on us.
After all, Fulgham is one of six skill position players all 25 years of age or under. The others are Reagor, John Hightower, running back Miles Sanders, Greg Ward and tight end Dallas Goedert.
Reagor had 3 catches for 16 yards in his first game back from injured reserve after thumb surgery. He also missed two weeks to start the season with a shoulder injury. Obviously, he has yet to build a rapport with Wentz.
"When you have a receiving corps like we have, the sky’s the limit," Reagor said. "I haven’t been fortunate with these injuries. But whenever I get back, it’s like you just add pieces. Get Dallas back, and when we’re able to get Miles back ... the sky’s the limit."
The problem, of course, is injuries, which have ravaged the offensive line, among other positions. Wentz has been sacked a league-high 32 times.
Both of Wentz's interceptions Sunday were on deep balls to rookie receivers – the first in the corner of the end zone on a pass intended for Reagor, the second on a deep ball down the middle that Hightower didn't track well.
"Some of these shots down the field, I’m going to keep giving these guys chances and I can be better and put the ball in the right spot," Wentz said. "But I’m not going to change my aggressive mentality. We’re going to start connecting on some of those big plays."
Pederson doesn't want him to change that mentality.
"That's just who he is," Pederson said. "That's the aggressive nature and his demeanor and I love having the ball in his hands. He's also a great playmaker for us, and I never want to pull that ball out of his hand."
All of that development takes time.
Maybe it's not what fans want to hear, especially when the Eagles are paying Wentz like a franchise quarterback, but he's playing at times like an overmatched rookie third-string quarterback like the Eagles faced in Ben DiNucci.
Yet a veteran skill position player acquired at the trade deadline won't change that, either. Neither will an offensive lineman. At least not in time to send the Eagles on a deep playoff run.
In 2017, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman traded for running back Jay Ajayi because the Eagles were 6-1 at the time, and Ajayi became a great 1-2 punch with LeGarrette Blount on a team that ended up winning the Super Bowl.
Roseman tried that again at the deadline in 2018, trading for wide receiver Golden Tate. That move didn't pay off. But the Eagles were a veteran team trying to repeat.
That's not the case this season.
The Eagles are rebuilding. They're clearly moving away from veterans like Jackson, Jeffery and possibly Zach Ertz, and toward their young, promising receiver corps. They can't afford to give away early-round draft picks to plug a hole or two.
“It’s hard to be a young guy ... and be thrust into playing right away," Wentz said. "I'm excited to keep building off what they’ve done so far and keep getting better.”
For this season, that's the Eagles' best, and only, recourse. And they'll probably get a playoff berth out of it anyway.
Contact Martin Frank at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.