It’s Howie Roseman’s time to shine. Well, in theory.
As the 2020 NFL trade deadline approaches, Roseman is on the clock. Despite a 2-4-1 record, the Eagles general manager owes his team and coaching staff to (wisely and shrewdly) add before the Nov. 3 deadline.
That means avoiding spending third-round picks for rentals (Golden Tate) or jumping into the top of the market for huge names (Stephon Gilmore) at a time where this franchise needs to prioritize the future as much as the present.
You might notice and be surprised by zero linebackers or offensive lineman on this list. Don’t be. The Eagles need a difference maker at linebacker, but we both know they aren’t trading for one. As for offensive lineman? I like the depth here and trust the coaching to keep it steady. Upgrading in a meaningful way is an offseason move. For now, let the kids play.
Here are five under-the-radar names Roseman should inquire about, including three at a position of need few are talking about.
Will Fuller, WR, Texans
I don’t believe the Eagles need to continue to pour as many resources into wide receivers as many others do, but Fuller could be a short-term replacement for DeSean Jackson. The 26-year-old Philly native is a big-time deep threat (15.8 yards per reception) and comes on an expiring deal. With the Texans in free fall, it shouldn’t cost much to pry him away. Rolling out a Fuller, Travis Fulgham, Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward pass-catching group down the stretch would give this franchise a young, dynamic core of weapons.
Brian Hill, RB, Falcons
Let’s talk about running back, the sneaky area of need I believe Roseman should target before the deadline. Miles Sanders is very good, but can’t stay on the field. Boston Scott is a perfect change-of-pace back, but not a lead guy. Corey Clement hasn’t been impressive since 2017. It’s easy to say “get Carson Wentz weapons!” but another back could help him just as much.
Hill, the No. 2 runner behind Todd Gurley in Atlanta, is having a breakout year (4.4 yards per carry, 17 receptions). The 24-year-old is a soon-to-be free agent, and member of the infamous 2017 running back draft class. Unless the Falcons plan to re-sign him to a multi-year deal, a late-round pick could be a fair cost for both sides.
Kerryon Johnson, RB, Lions
My favorite name on this list, and the one that comes with the most long-term upside. Johnson’s star has fallen in Detroit due to the emergence of rookie back DeAndre Swift and the presence of veteran Adrain Peterson. Johnson, a 2018 second-round pick, didn’t have a touch in Week 7 vs. the Falcons and has basically been phased out of the offense.
If the Eagles still thought something was there, Johnson (who is under team control through 2021) could be a player that helps now and next season.
Matt Breida, RB, Dolphins
There’s two ways to look at Breida:
-A product (381 carries, 5.0 yards per carry) of Kyle Shanahan’s system and scheme in San Francisco.
-Underutilized (33 total carries) by a Dolphins team that has little invested in him and wants to give a younger back touches.
The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle. I liked Breida as a potential offseason acquisition. If he could he had now for a sixth or seventh-round pick, it’s worth it.
Mike Hughes, CB, Vikings
Mike Zimmer is a hard coach to read, so you’re guess is as good as mine as to why the former first-round pick hasn’t played great or excelled in Minnesota. But I am confident about this: The Avonte Maddox, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Cre'Von LeBlanc (and sometimes Jalen Mills) cornerback group opposite Darius Slay is not one I have much confidence in.
The Eagles have whiffed at cornerback often, only to watch other teams fix players they couldn’t. Why not try to reverse the strategy with Hughes, a 23-year-old former first rounder? If it works, an extra year of team control is there thanks to the fifth-year option on his contract.