Philadelphia Eagles: Is it worth trading up for Marcus Mariota?


The city of Philadelphia has been buzzing for quite some time now about a potential trade that would allow the Eagles to acquire Oregon star quarterback Marcus Mariota. There’s no doubt that head coach Chip Kelly has an infatuation with his former player. NJ Advance Media reported back in January that the Philadelphia Eagles were exploring various options that could allow them to get Mariota in the spring’s NFL Draft.

Now, while it may seem far-fetched that Philadelphia could jump all the way up to the first or second pick, currently held by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans, respectively, a potentially trade with the New York Jets, selecting sixth, appears much more realistic. The Jets are certainly in the market for a quarterback with Geno Smith appearing to be a bust in his first two seasons in New York. However, it’s not clear as to whether or not Gang Green is sold on the former Oregon signal-caller.

Nov 2, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) attempts a pass during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Could he be on the moves this offseason? Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

On February 12, NJ Advance Media’s Joe Giglio explained what a possible trade between the Jets and the Eagles could potentially look like. If Mariota does fall to the Jets to the sixth spot, things would get very interesting, especially for Philadelphia. It would likely take the team’s swapping 2015 first-round picks, Philadelphia sending quarterback Nick Foles to New York, as well as future first- and second-round selections going to the Jets.

The real question that Eagles fans and brass should be asking though is can this team win with Foles as the starting quarterback? For a lot of people, Marcus Mariota is the clear-cut answer for Philly. He played for Chip Kelly at Oregon and he knows how to play that same style of up-tempo football. Then there are the naysayers that believe that he can’t make NFL throws and will be reliant upon his running ability. 

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Looking at Philadelphia’s roster, this is obviously a team that needs serious help on the defensive side of the ball, particularly in the secondary. It’s almost a formality that the Eagles will select a cornerback or safety if they do indeed keep their 20th overall pick.

But what happens if Mariota falls outside the top 2 selections? The Eagles currently have over $19 million in cap space to work with this offseason, meaning that they could try to address their defensive inadequacies via free agency or later in the draft. 

Mariota is absolutely worth a look by the Eagles, but again, is he a necessity to get Philadelphia to the postseason? I’m not sold on that idea. Last time I checked, Foles is 15-9 as the starting quarterback for this football team. Understandably, he has been injury prone in his young career. For that reason alone, Mariota does deserve strong consideration if he doesn’t come at an overly expensive price.

Dec 20, 2014; Landover, MD, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly watches from the sidelines against the Washington Redskins in the second quarter at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no question that Mariota is a better fit for Chip Kelly’s system, solely because of his athleticism. However, what is in doubt is if he can indeed be a better passer than Foles. In three seasons with the Eagles, Nick Foles has a completion percentage of 61.6, throwing for 46 touchdowns and only 17 interceptions. The worrisome aspect of Foles is that had he not been sidelined for the second half of last season, he was on pace to throw 20 interceptions.

Verdict: Make a deal

In the case of Mariota, it’s impossible to know how good of an NFL quarterback he can be until he steps out on the first Sunday of next season. His numbers in college were eye-popping to say the least, but can that translate to the next level? Continuity plays a huge role in success no matter what you do for a living. The fact that Mariota and Chip Kelly have a history together shouldn’t be downplayed. With weapons like LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Zach Ertz, and Jeremy Maclin, assuming he is re-signed, Mariota shouldn’t have any issues being a thorn in opposing team’s sides.

Next: Philadelphia Eagles could go all-in for Marcus Mariota

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