The man who recruited the 2014 Heisman Trophy Winner to Oregon no longer labels himself as a Duck. The former Mallard skipper is now soaring high after turning in consecutive 10-6 seasons as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, but now has his sights set on a reunion with a former pupil; something that could do more harm than good for Philadelphia’s championship aspirations. Chip Kelly is in total control of the personnel in Philadelphia, but will he target an old ally in Marcus Mariota?
Currently ranked as the No. 1 prospect entering the 2015 NFL draft season, Mariota can boast quite the resume from his three seasons as the starter at Oregon. The Sports Illustrated cover-model owns Pac-12 records for total touchdowns with 135, consecutive passes without an interception with 353, and single-season total yards and total touchdowns with 5,224 yards and 58 scores respectively. In addition to that, Super Mario owns slew of school records.
It is not simply Mariota’s on-field ability that puts him at the top of this quarterback class, his poise and character play a large part as well. The Heisman Trophy winner was named as the team’s most outstanding player in each of his three seasons as the starter, and the team’s most inspirational player in back-to-back seasons. Furthermore, Mariota has also become a face for Hawaiian football, where he continues to inspire growth and sportsmanship as the figurehead of Polynesian athletes.
Though current Oregon coach Mark Helfrich was the man who originally brought the Hawaiian native to the Ducks’ attention, it was Chip Kelly who signed off on targeting Mariota as a scholarship candidate. The two share three years of football history together, and their bond must not be overlooked while discussing Philadelphia’s draft strategy.
History shows that the Eagles should tread carefully while pondering a trade-up in the draft. The division-rival Washington Redskins tried to hitch their future to Baylor’s Robert Griffin III in 2012, a strategy that got Mike Shannahan fired and has resulted in consecutive horrific seasons for the franchise.
Just last year, the Buffalo Bills traded their 2015 first-round pick to trade up for Clemson’s Sammy Watkins. Though Watkins did not disappoint in his rookie season, the Bills would have been wise to keep their first-round pick and select one of the numerous other breakout receivers from last year’s class like Odell Beckham Jr. or Kelvin Benjamin.
Recent history is not the only example. In 1999, the New Orleans Saints traded eight picks, including two first-round picks, to Washington for Ricky Williams. The same type of deal occurred in 1977 as Dallas traded away four picks for Tony Dorsett. The list goes on and on and always ends the same way: one team benefits and one is set back for years to come. Philadelphia would be wise not to be the next team on the losing side of this list.
The ideal situation for the Eagles is the one that Green Bay found themselves in with Aaron Rodgers, or more recently the Minnesota Vikings with Teddy Bridgewater. Both quarterbacks were considered the best in class, then lost that title during draft season. Both men fell in the draft and ended up in a better situation than they would have otherwise. Rodgers became the heir-apparent to Brett Favre and Bridgewater is blossoming into one of the game’s best young passers.
Media correspondents have drummed up numerous narratives that the Eagles would mortgage their foreseeable future to snag Mariota, but this is simply not feasible. The first reason for this is that teams like Tampa Bay and the New York Jets need quarterbacks too, and are much worse off in that category than where the Eagles are with Nick Foles. There is no guarantee that Mariota’s rights are even up for trade.
Furthermore, who says the Eagles have enough to give to get Mariota? Fletcher Cox, LeSean McCoy, Evan Mathis and Cedric Thornton have all been thrown into the fray as possible trade values for Mariota. Yet these players would have to be packaged with picks to even have a shot at the former Oregon Duck. Philadelphia would give up far too much value to take a chance on a single player, no matter his potential.
Finally, Philadelphia is situated to enter next year’s NFL season as a contender regardless of any roster changes. Still, the team needs help at cornerback, safety, inside linebacker, right guard and at the secondary wide receiver position. Trading up for Mariota would make improvements in these areas more difficult, and likely open up more holes to be filled.
While the idea of Philadelphia trading for Marcus Mariota is exhilarating for sportswriters, it is simply not feasible, nor the best decision for the Eagles as a franchise. Philadelphia would have to give up too much to get Mariota, and there is no guarantee teams with an opportunity to trade back would even do so due to the talent of the Rose Bowl MVP. It his highly unlikely that the Philadelphia Eagles will land Marcus Mariota, and that is a good thing for the franchise.
Photo: NY Post