The rumors have been hot and heavy that the Philadelphia Eagles, or more specifically head coach Chip Kelly, will do whatever it takes to trade up for his former collegiate quarterback Marcus Mariota. The Chicago Bears are set to pick 7th in the 2015 NFL Draft with the Eagles currently slotted at 20th in the first round.
Many Bears fans are hoping new GM Ryan Pace can swing a trade with Kelly to move down the draft and add more picks if Mariota is still sitting there at 7.
There's no way Mariota will make it down to 20, so Philly will need to figure out just how high they'll need to move up in order to snag the Heisman Trophy winning QB.
With yesterday's surprising trade that sent LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for linebacker Kiko Alonso, Kelly has now added nine players that he had while coaching at Oregon. If Kelly is willing to trade a 26 year old All Pro talent for a linebacker that missed all of 2014 with an ACL injury, there's no way he'll be stopped from acquiring Mariota.
With their trade of McCoy, and release of Trent Cole and Cary Williams, the Eagles are swimming in salary cap space at right around $50 million. Whatever draft picks they are forced to use in a trade up scenario, they can utilize free agency to plug holes in their roster.
Kelly will get his QB.
Here are the six teams that are drafting before the Bears and their situation at QB.
1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - They don't seem sold on Mike Glennon
2) Tennessee Titans - They may be content with Zach Mettenberger as the guy moving forward
3) Jacksonville Jaguars - Blake Bortles was the 3rd pick overall last year
4) Oakland Raiders - 2014 second round pick Derek Carr started all 16 games for Oakland last season
5) Washington Redskins - They gave up a lot for Robert Griffin III a few years ago and they have named him the starter for 2015
6) New York Jets - Geno Smith started 13 games in 2014, but he hasn't looked like a franchise QB through 2 seasons
At this point, it really seems that the Bucs are zeroed in on Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, but the only way the Eagles would be 100% guaranteed a shot at Mariota would be a trade up to #1. If the Buccaneers can create the illusion that there's a Mariota/Winston debate raging on in their front office, then Chip Kelly will be forced to move to the top of the draft.
If Kelly truly believes that Winston is the top pick, the next team he has to be concerned with is the Jets at 6th overall. The Titans, Jags and Raiders all drafted QBs last year that they probably view as the future, and the Redskins seem committed to RGIII for at least one more season. I suppose the Titans could take Mariota, but he doesn't seem like a fit for their offense, and I really think they covet USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams at #2 overall.
But the Jets have a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator and a new GM that may want to put his stamp on the team by taking a high-profile, franchise-type QB in his first draft. Or, the new GM could want to give his defensive minded head coach the best pass rusher on his board at 6. This is the dilemma weighing on Chip Kelly's mind.
In order to stop the Jets from taking their guy, the Eagles would have to move in front of them, but I don't see Philly playing nice with NFC East rival Washington. Which leaves the Raiders as the logical choice to trade with, but would the Raiders pass on the chance to get the top wide receiver prospect on their board to pair with Carr?
If the Raiders are unwilling to trade with Chip Kelly, will the Eagles offer a ton to the Jets for the right to draft Mariota at 6?
They could always bite the bullet and give in to the Redskins' demands for the 5th pick, but would Washington even want to drop out of the top of the draft?
One other thing to keep in mind, maybe the Bears would like a fresh start at quarterback themselves. If Marcus Mariota falls to 7, maybe they take him and cut Jay Cutler loose. I know that will make some Chicago fans happy, but I think the Bears will roll with Cutler for at least one more season.
Let's take a look at the few teams that pick after the Bears.
So if Mariota somehow makes it past the Jets, the next team that is in need of a QB is the Rams at 10. After the Rams it's the Browns at 12 & 19 and the Texans at 16 that could take a flier on Chip Kelly's guy.
Then again, the Browns, Rams or Texans may look to leap in front of any potential Eagles trade to snatch Mariota for themselves. The Jets may even look to trade up a spot or two to prevent the Eagles from jumping in to steal Mariota from them.
The scenarios are endless.
The only thing that gives GMs some pause about Mariota is the spread offense he ran at Oregon. Some scouts figure he'll take a year to acclimate himself to a pro style O, but that won't be an issue in Philly. If the Eagles draft him, he's a plug and play player from day 1. Chip Kelly has supreme confidence that the kid he recruited to play for him at Oregon can run his Eagles' offense to a T.
Most of the mock drafts have Mariota going to the Jets at 6, but I've seen him mocked the Titans at 2 and I've seen him falling to the Rams at 10. I haven't seen anyone mock him to the Bears at 7 however.
So what do you guys think, do you see any scenario playing out where Mariota is sitting there when the Bears are on the clock? Do you see them finagling a trade with the Eagles to move down to 20 and add some more picks? If the Bears do swing a trade with Philadelphia, what would be a fair haul for the 7th overall selection?
Sound off in the comment section.