NFL Draft 2022: What trade with Saints means for Eagles’ long-term future

My first reaction after hearing about the Eagles’ trade with the Saints was that this probably never happens if Howie Roseman doesn’t get a contract extension.

Think about it.

If you’re a GM and you’re facing an uncertain future and your contract is up at the end of the year and you fear you may be fighting to save your job and you’ve got three 1st-round picks, you’re going to do everything possible to win now so the owner decides to keep you.

Even if it’s not in the best long-term interest of the franchise.

Because survival is a pretty powerful tool. And the reality is that keeping those three top-20 picks would have served the 2022 Eagles just a little bit better than a trade that left them with fewer assets this year but more in the future.

Ignoring everything after the 3rd round, here’s what the Eagles had in the next three drafts before the trade:

2022: Three 1st-round, one 2nd-round, one 3rd-round.
2023: One 1st-round, one 2nd-round, one 3rd-round.
2024: One 1st-round, one 2nd-round, one 3rd-round.

And here’s what they have now:

2022: Two 1st-round, one 2nd-round, two 3rd-round.
2023: Two 1st-round, one 2nd-round, one 3rd-round.
2024: One 1st-round, two 2nd-round, one 3rd-round.

As alluring as it was to hold onto 15, 16 and 19, the opportunity to add premium picks to the next two drafts as well as a potentially very good 1st-round pick in 2023 is a huge win when you start looking at the big picture .

And with a new contract, it’s a lot easier to look at the big picture.

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The Eagles now have nine picks in the first three rounds over the next three years instead of seven, and this is where Roseman is at his best. Turning picks into more picks and better picks.

And when you look at that Saints’ pick, there’s a pretty good chance it will end up being an upgrade over the No. 19 pick the Eagles shipped down to New Orleans.

Sean Payton is gone, Drew Brees is gone, and this is a Saints team facing the 7th-most difficult schedule in the NFL in 2022. The Vegas over-under for the Saints is 7 ½ wins, and if the Saints really do win seven or eight games, then Howie just turned No. 19 into a potential top-10 pick and at worst somewhere in the 12-to-15 range.

The thing is, even with this trade, even with unloading a 1st-round pick, the Eagles still have a ton of assets. It’s not like they can’t go out and improve the roster big-time this month.

They still have two top-20 picks for the first time since 1973, when they drafted a couple multiple Pro Bowlers – Jerry Sisemore at No. 3 and Charle Young at No. 6 – and they still have five picks in the first three rounds for the first time since 1995.

And along with the Lions, they’re one of only two teams with four 1st-round picks over the next two seasons.

READ: Trade gives Eagles a Plan B if Jalen Hurts doesn’t work out

So they have the opportunity to reshape the roster immediately in a way that very few teams can and then come back next year with two more 1st-round picks and then come back the year after with a 1st-round pick and two 2’s.

And if they keep all these picks? This will be the first time in franchise history – and the NFL draft goes back to 1936 – the Eagles will have three picks in the first two rounds in three consecutive drafts.

All because Roseman was making moves to serve the long-term future of the team.

Those three 1st-round picks were really intriguing, and it was exciting to see where the Eagles would go with them.

But this trade is an investment in the future, and it puts the Eagles in a really unique position in terms of long-range roster building.

Obviously, Roseman has to turn these picks into quality starters, but more picks means more chances to hit on players as well as more opportunities to turn these picks into even more picks. And even more players.

Will it all work? No idea. If you pick more Marcus Smiths and Andre Dillards than Lane Johnsons and DeVonta Smiths it doesn’t matter how many picks you have.

But as temping as it must have been to sit at 15, 16 and 19 and just take the three best players, playing the long game gives the Eagles the best chance to build the right way.

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