Three Trades the Philadelphia Eagles Could Make before the Draft

Haran KnightCorrespondent IFebruary 18, 2009

Two major reports today while perusing through Philadelphia Eagles articles and updates:

First: Donovan McNabb and his agent, Fletcher Smith, were attempting to meet with Eagles VP Joe Banner and head coach Andy Reid to discuss McNabb's future with the team.

Second: The Eagles are shopping Winston Justice for a possible trade.

The former report made me think, "It's about time, if the front office agrees."

The latter report brought hysterical laughter.  Who in their right mind would want Winston Justice?!

Every team has a goal of controlling its player/finance balance.  The roster should have as many game-ready players as possible, but teams have to keep room under the salary cap to avoid having to make unwanted decisions.

The NFL Draft and free agency period are "crap shoots."  Each team ends up with some players that, initially, do nothing more than fill up roster spots.  Some of those players' teams invest a lot of money in a player (example: WR Reggie Brown) only to get next to nothing in return.

Unfortunately, Brown will cost the Eagles a lot of money—$6 million in dead money; $3 million reduction in cap space—to get him out of town.  Unless he's included in an unlikely package to bring in Anquan Boldin or Tony Gonzalez, it's best that he stays an Eagle, as a fourth or fifth receiver, for at least another year.

What trades came to mind as possibilities today?  Let's take a look...


1. QB Kevin Kolb, OT Winston Justice to Vikings for 2009 Third Round, 2010 Fifth Round Picks

This would occur only if the Eagles extended McNabb's contract, making him the starter for two or three more seasons.  By then, Kolb would become a free agent and a wasted second-round pick by the Eagles.

Kolb wants to start and a QB drafted that high deserves the opportunity to show his potential.  (Being thrown in at halftime on the road against the Baltimore defense isn't the proper showcase.)

Justice may actually fit into the Vikings' style of play. The 2006 second-round pick has been a complete disappointment.  It's not that he gave up six sacks against the Giants in 2007; it's the fact that he doesn't suit up when you have two aging, banged-up tackles in 2008.

At USC, Justice was known more for his run blocking than his pass protection.  The run-oriented Vikings need someone on the right side to replace Marcus Johnson and/or Ryan Cook. Vikings coach Brad Childress is on the hot seat, despite making the playoffs. He can't afford not to consider this Justice option.

Childress' relationship with Andy Reid also makes this trade a possibility.


2. CB Lito Sheppard, LB Omar Gaither to Ravens for 2009 Third Round, 2009 Fifth Round Picks

Lito Sheppard has become one expensive dime back. Joselio Hanson took his spot and a healthy Jack Ikegwonu returns this year, who they feel was a fourth-round steal. 

It's almost imperative for the Eagles to ship Sheppard and his $4 million salary away.

The Ravens cut Chris McAlister because of his age and his cap space.  That makes Sheppard, four years younger than McAlister and at half the price, an attractive option for Baltimore.

The Ravens are likely to keep Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis while watching Bart Scott get a big payday elsewhere.  That's where Gaither comes into the picture.  Gaither is a good, starting-caliber linebacker, with a reasonable $2.2 million cap impact.

Gaither is still in his mid-20s and would fit in great with a linebacker corps of Suggs and Lewis.  Seeing as head coach John Harbaugh is a former Eagle assistant, like Childress, it's another networking tool that makes this a possibility.


3. Darren Howard to Panthers for 2009 Third Round Pick, or to Bills for Fourth Round Pick

Unless the Panthers franchise Julius Peppers in the next 23 hours, Carolina will be without a quality defensive end.  And the Panthers do not have a first-round pick (traded to Eagles last year) to replace Peppers.

Howard had a breakout season with 10 sacks.  It's not guaranteed to happen again, and at 32 Howard is as valuable as he'll ever be.  The Eagles also have Jaqua Parker, also in his early 30s, so there is a need to focus more on younger ends.

Philadelphia invested a lot in Chris Clemons, with hopes he'll produce the same numbers Howard did in 2008. Trading Howard would also create $2.3 million in cap space.

While they don't have a first round pick, the Panthers' surprising 12-4 season has them picking very low in each round.  The 28th pick in the third round is basically the same as a high fourth-round selection.  If no deal can be made with the Panthers, Buffalo is desperate for help on its defensive line.  The Bills have the 11th pick in the fourth round.


Any of these trades would create more cap space for the Eagles and give them some decent draft picks to restock for the future—and a possible Super Bowl run in 2009.