Though many national insiders, including Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole and Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, have suggested that the Philadelphia Eagles probably won’t land Marcus Mariota, there seems to be a belief locally that Chip Kelly and company are still very much in the sweeptsakes for the Heisman Trophy winner.
Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com seems to think so.
As does Tim McManus of Birds 24/7, who many believe is the most plugged in on the Eagles’ beat.
McManus tweeted that this afternoon, after suggesting in an interview on 97.5 the Fanatic yesterday that none of his sources would definitively say that there wasn’t anything to Mariota to the Eagles speculation.
Editors note: The interview mentioned above with McManus was not available on 97.5 the Fanatic’s website or iTunes, nor was a full podcast of Mike Missanelli’s Monday show where the interview took place.
So what does it all mean? For one, no one is ready to definitely count Chip Kelly out of anything. Secondly, while the Titans have successfully changed the public into believing they will likely take Mariota, they probably aren’t against trading number two pick.
The biggest problem remains what the Eagles’ return to the Titans would be to move up to the second spot, which it seems they will have to do to take Mariota. They could package numerous first-round picks, some combination of Mychal Kendricks, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Boykin, and in the end, the Titans may be uninterested because they don’t land someone they can sell as a franchise Quarterback. Mariota may never amount to what Fletcher Cox looks like he is becoming, but defensive tackles don’t sell tickets.
As Cole noted in his insider buzz segment yesterday, the Titans haven’t had great 2015 season-ticket sales thus far, which may squeeze them into taking a Quarterback. And if that’s the case, then there’s really nothing that the Eagles will be able to do.
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They do still have Sam Bradford as a possible trade-chip, though his reported unwillingness to sign a long-term deal upon a second trade hurts his trade-value. Also, as much as some have tried to connect the dots, we’ve never really heard a ton about the Titans’ interest in Sam Bradford. Cole reported earlier this off-season that some teams at the top of the draft valued Bradford more than Mariota, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Titans were one of those teams. ESPN’s Chris Mortenson called the idea of Bradford being involved in a trade-up a ‘fairytale’ yesterday morning on 97.5 the Fanatic.
Free-agency, pro-days and the combine have also since happened, so it’s possible that the Titans did like Bradford more than Mariota, but don’t anymore.
And the issue with trading draft-picks is there really isn’t another sure-fire starting Quarterback in this draft. Last year’s draft was a terrible Quarterback draft, as was 2013, so trading for a 2016 first-round pick doesn’t assure that you’ll be able to land a Quarterback next year if things don’t work out with Zach Mettenberger. So if the Titans don’t take Mariota here and Mettenberger doesn’t work out, it’s possible that this regime will fail because of their inability to land a franchise Quarterback.
As I’ve stated all along, the best chance for the Eagles to land Mariota would be for the Titans to be bluffing on their interest AND not have someone meet their needs for the second pick. So the Titans could select a player like Leonard Williams, allowing Mariota to fall a few more picks, and possibly have the price of trading up be slightly reduced. Perhaps that will happen.
I’ll admit right now, I don’t think Marcus Mariota is going to be an Eagle on Friday morning. I don’t think the Titans are going to trade him to the Eagles at any time after that either. I believe that the Titans will take him, and that will be a merciful end to something that never turned out to being that close to happening. But while there isn’t a smoking gun per say, two of the most connected local reporters seem to think the idea of Mariota ending up in Philly is far from being dead. Maybe there’s something brewing privately that they know and the public doesn’t yet.