Mailbag: With a Jalen Hurts extension on the horizon, can the Eagles even afford to make a trade deadline splash?

In our Eagles chat on Thursday, there were a lot of questions that we could not get to in time or other questions we did answer but could use more color. And so, let’s do a mailbag post to answer some of the overflow, as well as some commonly asked questions on Twitter and via email. (I’m thinking we’ll have a separate Cowboys-specific mailbag on gameday, by the way.)

Question from Scojos: Taking a longer term view – Can the Eagles afford to trade one of their first round picks next year (and possibly more) to make a splash acquisition? I love the idea of a Brian Burns, but it feels like they need to take swings on high draft picks for cap purposes knowing that Jalen Hurts’ rookie contract doesn’t have much time left on it.

The salary cap went up almost $26 million to $208.2 million this year. It is projected to jump to around $225 million in 2023, and then make a big leap to around $256 million in 2024.

Let’s look at Burns as an example, since you brought him up. If the Eagles were to trade for him, he’d be on their cap in 2022 for the low, low cost of $2,341,389, minus whatever portion of that salary has already been paid. So, basically peanuts.

In 2023, Burns is scheduled to make $16,012,000 on his fifth-year option. The Eagles would almost certainly look to do a contract extension with him, and structure it in a way that his 2023 number is extremely low, with the bigger cap numbers counting toward future years when the cap will be substantially higher. And even if they were unable to come to an agreement, another option would be to simply convert like $14 million of that $16 million into a signing bonus, and spread out the cap hits over future years, which is something they have been doing pretty routinely for years.

So, yes, they can absolutely afford to get aggressive and add a player who can make an impact down the stretch in a year that they seem to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders. 

To be clear, the financials don’t make sense with every player. It’s case by case, but for the most part there is usually a way to make it work if the player is worth it. 

Question from nceagles: Any further insight into the actual extent of Jordan Mailata’s injury? Also, with the number of OL injuries, an early bye week suddenly doesn’t seem quite so terrible.

I would be surprised if Mailata doesn’t play on Sunday. And really, there’s a possibility that they could have full participation in this game. Everyone on the 53-man roster practiced on Thursday, plus Andre Dillard. 

When they get back from their bye, they have the Steelers at home Week 8, followed by the Texans on the road on Thursday on short rest Week 9. They then have a mini bye, followed by an 8-game gauntlet to close the season, beginning with a Monday night game Week 10. Pending the injury toll from this Dallas game, I think they’d prefer to have their bye a little later in the season.

Question from big boys: As you look through who the Cowboys have played this year, Tampa might be the best offensive line they have faced? Would you even rank that O-line in the top half this year given their turnover?

Yeah, Tampa has had some offensive line difficulties this season, particularly on the interior, and yet, they’re definitely still the best offensive line the Cowboys have faced. The other four teams on their schedule very clearly all have below average offensive lines. They were the Bengals, Giants, Commanders, and Rams.

The Eagles have the best offensive line, by far, that Dallas will have faced so far this season.

Question from Mike: Which Eagles players will make it to the Pro Bowl this year?

There are no shortage of early candidates. I’d say Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown, Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, Darius Slay, Haason Reddick, and Fletcher Cox are all locks if they keep up their level of play. When you win a lot of games, a lot of guys typically make it. Looking back at 2017, six guys made it — Carson Wentz, Malcolm Jenkins, Zach Ertz, Brandon Brooks, Johnson, and Cox.

Question from War Koala’s Ukelele: So there was an argument in the comment section the other day about CeeDee Lamb vs DeVonta Smith. It’s hard to evaluate a WR in isolation, because quarterbacks matter, but… You have to pick one, who do you take?

I think it’s really close, but I would take Smith. Their respective rookie numbers were very similar, and Smith is basically on pace for a similar finish as Lamb had in his second year.

They both have ball skills, explosiveness, contested catch ability, and they can get separation. Lamb is a little bigger. Smith is probably a little faster. I’d take DeVonta because I know DeVonta. He wants to be great player, and he works hard at it. He also knows what he’s doing on the football field, and like any great receiver, he wants the ball. But he’s also not a complete jackass if he goes a game or two without seeing enough targets. 

If I covered the Cowboys and had an opportunity to get to know Lamb while knowing very little about DeVonta from a mental standpoint, I may very well take him instead. I don’t think there’s a wrong answer here. 

Question from Ugh: There’s been some awful primetime games lately and got me to thinking who are the 5 most boring and maybe 5 most exciting teams to watch in the league?

This question was actually posed before last night’s Commanders-Bears debacle, which was a game that I actually found enjoyable for it’s awfulness. I’ll answer that question in terms of, “Which teams would I skip for some extra sleep on a Thursday night,” And “Which teams would I stay up to watch, even if tired,” not including the Eagles:

Go to sleep 😴

  1. Colts
  2. Broncos
  3. Texans
  4. Panthers
  5. Bears

Stay up ☕

  1. Chiefs
  2. Bills
  3. Cowboys
  4. Ravens
  5. Dolphins

Question from Buck: So very glad the Eagles are not owned by Dan Snyder. Just, wow. I mean… wow.

If you haven’t yet read the ESPN story by Seth Wickersham, Don Van Natta Jr. and Tisha Thompson about Snyder, it’s well worth your time, and there are plenty of nuggets that involve the Eagles as well.

But to your point about owners, we quibble about Jeffrey Lurie in Philadelphia, but ultimately he is an owner who will do whatever he can to win football games, and he seems to be a normal person away from football. The combination of those two things alone probably put him in at least the 80th percentile of owners you’d like to have running your team.

If you’re stuck with someone like Snyder, you may as well just pick another team. 

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