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NFL trade deadline: Which Eagles players could bring back the biggest haul?

Martin Frank
Delaware News Journal

It's easy to be conflicted over whether the Eagles should be buyers or sellers at the NFL's trade deadline on Nov. 3.

On the one hand, the Eagles could be buyers. They are percentage points ahead of the Dallas Cowboys for first place in the NFC East before the Cowboys play Washington on Sunday. The Eagles face Dallas after that, on Nov. 1.

Someone has to win the woeful NFC East, which brings a first-round home playoff game. And the Eagles would be in prime position to do so if they beat the Cowboys, then the Giants when the Eagles play again Nov. 15.

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At that point, some of their injured players should be healthy.

On the other hand, the Eagles could be sellers. They have just as good a chance to end up with a top-10 pick in the first round of the NFL draft by missing the playoffs. So why not dump veterans with large salaries and try to get draft picks in return?

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Let's assume that the Eagles aren't making a major trade to acquire a difference-maker considering they're not a Super Bowl contender, and because they are committed to rebuilding through youth.

Here, then, are players the Eagles could trade, ranked in order from smallest haul in return, to the biggest:

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) scores a touchdown against Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander (23) in the second quarter at Lambeau Field on Thursday, Sept 26, 2019.

7. Alshon Jeffery, wide receiver

Good luck. Any team trading for Jeffery would have to fit his salary into their cap, which is $9.9 million for this season. And that's for someone who hasn't played since last December after having foot surgery.

It would take a general manager who hasn't seen any other video of Jeffery after the Eagles' Super Bowl season of 2017. In other words, not going to happen. The Eagles most likely couldn't even get a conditional seventh-round pick in return.

Eagles tackle Jason Peters during training camp in 2018.

6. Jason Peters, left tackle

Believe it or not, there could be some interest, even though Peters is 38 years old and on injured reserve with a toe injury. Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Friday that Peters could be returning soon.

Most likely, the team trading for Peters would have to insist that Peters play guard, and that Peters would be OK with that.

A late-round conditional pick would be something for the Eagles to consider in order to save some salary cap money. 

Eagles' Matt Pryor (69) looks for a block against Tennessee.

5. Matt Pryor, guard/tackle

The Eagles could decide to hold onto Peters and put him back at right guard when he's ready to return, while keeping Jordan Mailata at left tackle. In that case, the Eagles could look to trade Pryor, who has been average at best.

Still, Pryor is young and versatile in that he has played both guard and tackle. That would make him worth more than Peters, and thus perhaps a mid-round pick in return.

New York's Saquon Barkley (26) is brought down by Philadelphia's Nathan Gerry.

4. Nathan Gerry, linebacker

Gerry is the scourge of many Eagles fans. But it's a sign of the Eagles' weakness at linebacker that Gerry plays nearly every snap on defense despite being deficient in pass coverage.

Since the Eagles haven't put any money into the position, why not trade Gerry? After all, Alex Singleton is playing well, T.J. Edwards is close to returning from an injury, and the Eagles drafted two linebackers in Davion Taylor (third round) and Shaun Bradley (sixth) last spring.

The Eagles would have to believe that Bradley and Taylor could play a big role. So far, that hasn't been the case. Bradley played one snap on defense Thursday, Taylor none.

Still, if a team offers a mid-round pick for Gerry, the Eagles should take that and run.

Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Jalen Mills (21) runs with other defensive backs during an NFL football training camp practice in Philadelphia, Monday, Aug. 17, 2020.

3. Jalen Mills, defensive back

A playoff team looking for depth in the secondary could use someone like Mills, who started for the previous four seasons at cornerback before moving inside to safety this season.

Mills has played both positions this season, as well as the nickel. But acquiring Mills would be a rental since he's eligible for free agency after the season. Still, the Eagles traded a third-round pick to get Golden Tate in 2018, so there could be a team out there willing to take the chance.

The question is, would Mills change the color of his hair?

Eagles' Zach Ertz (86) struggles to bring in a pass under pressure from Baltimore's Chuck Clark (36) Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens 30-28.

2. Zach Ertz, tight end

This is a tough one. Ertz has proven to be one of the top tight ends in the NFL over the past several seasons, and he still has a chance to become the Eagles' all-time receptions leader this season.

But Ertz, who wants to be paid like a top tight end, has expressed frustration with progress on contract talks. That's not helped by his drop in production this season. In addition, Ertz is on IR with a high-ankle sprain, and won't be eligible to return until Nov. 22 at the earliest.

The Eagles might be able to finagle a third-round pick out of a Super Bowl contending team that has the luxury to wait until Ertz is fully healthy. Think about the possibility of Ertz playing with George Kittle in San Francisco, for example, or in Kansas City with Travis Kelce.

Eagles' Jalen Hurts (2) turns away from a tackle from Baltimore's Pernell McPhee (90) Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens 30-28.

1. Jalen Hurts, quarterback

This would be perhaps the boldest move for the Eagles, and they should only consider it if there's a team offering multiple picks, beginning with a first-rounder.

But that's not out of the realm of possibility if there are general managers who see Hurts as part of the new wave of quarterbacks like Baltimore's Lamar Jackson or Arizona's Kyler Murray.

Of course, if a really bad team is seeking a franchise quarterback, they would be better off getting a top pick and using it on Clemson's Trevor Lawrence or Ohio State's Justin Fields.

Then again, it could be a team like the Panthers, Lions or Patriots, who have veteran quarterbacks in place. Those teams aren't bad enough to challenge for one of the top QBs in the draft, but they might want to get a franchise quarterback.

Contact Martin Frank at mfrank@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.