Why the Eagles Won’t Trade Up for Robert Griffin III

Since Baylor QB and presumed second overall draft pick Robert Griffin III mentioned that he met with the Philadelphia Eagles last weekend, rumors have been swirling around the Internet that the Eagles have a definite interest in the man known as RGIII, and are candidates to trade with the St. Louis Rams and draft him. Members of the media have only fanned the flames; Peter King reported that Griffin III “really enjoyed his time with Andy Reid in the 15-minute interview segment they had,” and John Czarnecki said that he believed “Andy Reid would trade [Michael] Vick straight up for RG3.”

It’s unclear whether the Eagles would actually trade up for Griffin. Heck, it’s not even clear if they’re interested in him; the team regularly meets with all top prospects and underclassmen. I think that in this case, though, the Eagles are at least more than intrigued by Griffin, who has drawn comparison to both Vick and the second overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft–one Donovan McNabb. Andy Reid is likely salivating at acquiring a prospect of Griffin’s caliber, one who would be the Eagles quarterback for the next decade-plus. From any perspective, Griffin in Philadelphia would be a coup eclipsing last year’s free agent bonanza, one that would make the Eagles a future Super Bowl contender for years to come.

I love RGIII and have ever since I watched the show he put on against TCU in the first game of the 2011 season. I was calling for the Eagles to draft him with their first-round pick back when their season was in the toilet, and his stock hadn’t yet skyrocketed. It will pain me to watch him play us next season, whether as a Brown or a Redskin (and I can only hope it’s the former). Robert Griffin III is going to be an elite player in the NFL for a long time.

But the Eagles can’t draft him. They shouldn’t, and they probably won’t, for a number of reasons.

Let’s start with the most obvious of them; the price is way too high. Using the widespread draft trade value chart, the Rams’ pick is assigned a value of 2600, whereas the Eagles’ first four picks (15, 46, 51, 77) only combine to have a value of 2085, meaning they would have to send a future first-rounder or two more second rounders (assuming, somewhat liberally, that DeSean and Asante have that much value). And that exorbitant asking price doesn’t even take into account two wrinkles: that the new rookie wage scale has made high draft picks even more valuable and the current draft trade value chart obsolete (see here for an explanation), and that the price would also be driven up because the Eagles would have to outbid the Browns and Redskins (according to Howard Eskin, the ‘Skins are already prepared to trade their 1st, 2nd, 3rd, as well as next year’s 1st), as well as any other mystery teams. By the time all is said and done, I expect the Rams to get at least three 1st-rounders for RGIII.

There’s no way the Eagles, who regularly fleece others in trades (see: Kevin Kolb) and pride themselves on their cunningness, are stupid enough to sacrifice so much of their future on one starter, who won’t even play for at least a year. The Eagles have more important positions to upgrade, especially if they plan on gunning for the Super Bowl this year. And all indications are that they must do exactly that.

And that brings up another point: what message do the Eagles send to their players and fans by essentially trading their entire draft for one player? They’d be admitting that the current roster was incapable of making or winning a Super Bowl (which the organization definitely does not believe), and that it was time to rebuild (so why keep Reid, Castillo, and Co.?). Remember, the Eagles have a lot of veteran players whose careers will be on the downswing by the time RG3 is ready to lead Philly to a Super Bowl; getting RGIII really would mean that the Eagles needed to retool to make a future Super Bowl run.

On the other hand, you have a talented roster that is ready to compete for the Super Bowl right now and for the next few years. If you’re running the Eagles, would you rather bring in a few free agents and use your preponderance of high picks to fill the holes and make this team a premier contender, or blow up the roster by staking your future to one player?

The Eagles shouldn’t sacrifice the present to take a chance on the future. They shouldn’t give up on a Super Bowl-caliber roster and turn their backs on their championship window. For all his talent, skill, and potential, they shouldn’t trade away their draft for Robert Griffin III.

And I have faith that the organization believes the same.