Trade for Eagles: It’s not often that a team downgrades it’s starting quarterback. It’s even less often that a team does that while simultaneously hurting their draft position, but the Eagles managed to do both of those things in this trade. Foles looked like a future star in 2013 when the 2012 3rd round pick completed 64.0% of his passes for an average of 9.12 YPA, 27 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Foles regressed mightily in 2014 though, completing 59.8% of his passes for an average of 6.96 YPA, 13 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.
Much of Foles’ strong production in 2013 was as a result of the scheme, as he only graded out 17th at his position on Pro Football Focus. As you can imagine, that slipped to 25th out of 39 eligible in 2014, barely better than backup Mark Sanchez (27th), who made 8 starts in Foles’ absence. The Eagles moved the chains at a 72.34% rate with Nick Foles and a 72.49% rate with Mark Sanchez. The fact that their offense wasn’t significantly worse with Sanchez under center is a concern for Foles. However, what Foles did in 2013 is still more impressive than anything Bradford has done in his career, he’s younger (age 28 vs age 26), and he’s significantly less injury prone. Bradford has completed 58.6% of his passes for an average of 6.29 YPA, 59 touchdowns, and 38 interceptions, missed 25 straight games because of a twice torn ACL, and missed 41 of 93 games dating back to his final season at Oklahoma. Bradford is also owed over 12 million dollars more this season than what Foles was owed.
When I first saw this trade, I assumed that the Eagles had improved their draft position in the trade, perhaps moving up from 20th to 10th in the first round, as was originally erroneously reported by several sources. That would have made some sense as 10 would have given the Eagles an easier spot to move up to get Heisman winner Marcus Mariota, who they have been linked to all off-season because of the Chip Kelly/Oregon connection. A trade of the 10th overall pick and Bradford to the Jets for the 6th overall pick could have gotten the Eagles Mariota, as would have a trade of the 10th overall pick, a 2nd round pick, some later picks, and Bradford to Tennessee for the 2nd overall pick, if they really wanted to be safe.
Instead, the Rams hurt their draft position significantly with this trade. They give up a 4th round pick this year, a 2nd round pick next year, and get back a 5th round pick this year and maybe a mid-round pick next year depending on whether or not Bradford gets injured again and how many games he plays for them next season. It’s possible that Chip Kelly never intended to move up for Mariota and that Bradford was his plan all along. He said in a recent press conference that he wouldn’t mortgage the future to move up for Mariota and that Bradford will be his guy in 2015. Even if that’s true, he still overpaid for him.
Kelly also said that the Eagles were offered a 1st round pick for Bradford. That would make this trade make more sense if it was true and if someone gives them that the Eagles would be absolutely fleecing them in a trade. The amount of team’s with unresolved quarterback issues whose situation would be made easier by trading a first round pick for Bradford isn’t very high though and it’s very possible that Kelly saying that is wishful thinking and he’s trying to drum up trade interest. This is a confusing situation and it’s tough to know what’s going on and it’s tough to grade this for that reason. If the Eagles can somehow get a first round pick for Bradford later on, they’d absolutely be winners of that trade, but for right now, it looks like they really messed up.
Trade for Rams: As I mentioned, it’s tough to know what kind of quarterback Foles is going to be in this league. His 2013 was great, but largely the result of the system and he struggled in 2014. However, he’s still better, less injury prone, cheaper, and younger than Bradford and the Rams improve their draft position in each of the next 2 drafts with this deal. Given all of that, they’re very clearly the winner of this trade.