The New York Jets are picking sixth in this year’s NFL Draft on virtue of their 4-12 record. With many potentially franchise altering players available, the Jets may also have a trade option available. The Philadelphia Eagles are reportedly looking to move up to snag Oregon Heisman-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota. If he’s still available, the Jets should ship their pick to the Eagles for a package headlined by Nick Foles.
The Jets need a quarterback. And with little to no options in free agency, the Jets could draft Marcus Mariota themselves in the first round. However, even more intriguing for the Jets would be using the pick in a larger trade to acquire Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.
The Eagles have been rumored as heavily interested in trading up for coach Chip Kelly’s former college quarterback, Mariota. Sports Illustrated.com’s Peter King suggests the Eagles may be inclined to make a trade with the Washington Redskins for the fifth overall pick.
If a deal isn’t struck and Mariota remains on the board, the Eagles could conduct a similar trade with the Jets. Instead of including four picks as King suggests, the Eagles could ship this year’s first round pick (20th overall), next year’s first round selection, and quarterback Nick Foles.
There is a precedent in recent years for these kind of trades. The Redskins shipped three first round selections and six overall picks to the St. Louis Rams to select Robert Griffin III with the draft’s second pick just a few years back. The Cleveland Browns surrendered the sixth pick in 2011 to acquire to receive five picks from the Atlanta Falcons, who would go on to select wide receiver Julio Jones.
These trades both ended up proving lopsided, but in different ways each time. The Redskins have been hampered by Griffin’s inability to stay on the field, and have quickly returned to selecting early in the draft. The Rams, on the other hand, have enjoyed success from many of their drafted players, even taunting the Redskins by sending out all six players that resulted from the trade out to a coin toss in last year’s matchup with the Redskins.
On the other hand, four of the five players the Browns drafted with the Falcons picks are no longer on the roster, the only remaining product being DT Phil Taylor. Julio Jones has went on to become one of the best wideouts in the league, something Cleveland has desperately needed.
However, both teams would benefit from this trade between the Eagles and Jets. The Jets would acquire a young yet proven NFL starter in Foles. Foles would represent the best quarterback the Jets have had in years, filling the not so big shoes left by Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith.
After an insanely impressive season in 2013, Foles came back down to Earth last year in an injury shortened campaign. At his peak so far in 2013, Foles threw 27 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions. This kind of ball control is unheard of for a Jets signal-caller, and would radically change the Jets offense. Last season he threw a much more average ratio of 13 touchdowns to 10 picks, but still led the Eagles to a 6-2 record in 8 starts.
Foles would be a very welcome addition to the New York Jets. The 26-year-old quarterback still has a bright future ahead of him while also possessing a couple years of experience. He represents the best-case outcome of the Jets sixth overall pick.
In addition, the acquisition of two additional picks would also help bolster the Jets roster. This year’s selection could be used on a second-tier wide receiver, a cornerback, or the best player available. Potential names here include WR Breshad Perriman, CB Jalen Collins, and S Landon Collins. Two first round selections next year would put a hopefully improving Jets team over the top, a year where Tom Brady would turn 38 years old. The Patriots dynasty is set to end soon, and the team with the best quarterback is likely to be AFC East champion when that happens.
If Foles is such a franchise changing talent, why would the Eagles ship him and multiple picks to acquire a rookie quarterback? The Eagles proved last year that Foles wasn’t completely integral to their success, with former Jet Mark Sanchez leading them to a 5-4 record in games he played in. While not astronomically great, the Eagles showed almost any quarterback can succeed in their current system. This makes Foles an expendable commodity.
While expendable, the Eagles wouldn’t trade Foles for just any quarterback. But Mariota isn’t just any quarterback. Eagles coach Chip Kelly hand-picked Mariota out of his high school in Hawaii to run his offense at the University of Oregon. Kelly left the Ducks for the Eagles while Mariota stayed and continued winning, but a reunion may be possible.
Mariota would be the top prospect in many drafts, but this year that honor seems to belong to Jameis Winston. Mariota is a great ball handler and extremely accurate, not unlike Foles as passer. In addition, Mariota ran a 4.52 40 yard dash and looks to translate that speed to the NFL.
The biggest knock on Mariota is that he is a “system quarterback” and his superb college career was a product of the offense he ran at Oregon, a unique, non-pro style offense. Kelly is the one that created this offense, and uses many elements of it in Philadelphia. Even Foles was subjected to designed runs with the Eagles, bringing moderate success. Insert Mariota into the same playbook, and touchdowns are sure to follow.
Mariota would also benefit from the amount of talent and speed on the Eagles roster. A read option offense headlined by Mariota and LeSean McCoy, with Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper streaking down the field is a scary thought. Mariota is a perfect fit for Kelly’s offense and would make the Eagles among the league’s most explosive teams.
The Jets could very well draft Mariota themselves, or another team in the top five could beat them to the punch. However, he may slip to the sixth pick and the Eagles should be ready to pounce if he does. Mariota simply has more value on the Eagles than any other team on the league.
Similarly, while Foles may be considered an average passer around the league, he would represent a major upgrade for the Jets moving forward. The Eagles and Jets should strongly consider this trade, as it would alter both franchises for the better in the near future.