For the first time since 2019, Philadelphia Eagles fans won’t have to watch Seattle Seahawks games with a sick feeling in their stomachs while wondering about what might have been. You can thank that draft-night trade that brought A.J. Brown to town for that.
Before Brown’s arrival, however, it’s been hard not to imagine what D.K. Metcalf might look like in an Eagles jersey. There were days when it felt like we had felt that way forever even if we hadn’t.
We can thank the fact that hindsight is seen in 20-20 vision for that being the case, but let’s not act as if everyone felt like taking D.K. was a slam-dunk move.
No one seems to talk about this now, but ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft, there were concerns about a season-ending neck injury that Metcalf had sustained in his final season with the Ole Miss Rebels versus the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2018.
That injury was why so many teams ignored him for as long as they did, so even though no one wants to admit this now, had Philly ignored D.K., it would have made sense. Still, even with that being said, you have to know that Metcalf is better than J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. You just have to.
As fate would have it, the Eagles ignored Metcalf again.
You’ve heard the story 100 times. You’ve probably told someone the story another 50 times or so. With the 53rd-overall selection during Round 2 of the NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles took a running back, Miles Sanders. They were back on the clock with the 57th-overall selection just four picks later.
Rather than take D.K. Metcalf, Philly, thanks to the recommendation of their owner and CEO Jeffrey Lurie, went with JJ Arcega-Whiteside because the former Stanford Cardinal standout reminded the boss of Alshon Jeffery.
There isn’t a Birds fan on Planet Earth that doesn’t know how that decision has turned out.
There were theories that Philly might correct their mistake this past offseason. The Seattle Seahawks never seemed to be interested in dealing D.K., but doggone it, Birds fans thought their team would get him anyway. They didn’t, and as mentioned earlier, Philadelphia orchestrated a draft-night trade this past April that brought A.J. Brown to town.
Dare we say Philly got the right guy anyway? Dare we say A.J. is a better fit for this team than D.K. would have been? We can debate that at a later date, but here’s something we can probably agree on now. The Eagles may have saved themselves both money and draft capital by letting things play out as they did.
Part of the reason that D.K. didn’t trade one bird’s nest for another is the asking price would have been too high to acquire his services. Not only were people stating that it was going to take multiple first-round draft selections to get a deal done, but Metcalf still also needed to be signed to an extension, one he still hasn’t been given by Seattle.
Pro Football Focus’ salary cap analyst Brad Spielberger recently shared his opinions on what the second contracts for top 2019 NFL draft picks might look like. He sees a five-year deal worth $130 million with $60 million guaranteed as a fair deal for D.K. Metcalf.
As you math whizzes have probably already figured out, that’s an average of $26 million per season. A.J. Brown conversely was acquired for one first-rounder and a third-rounder via trade. He was also given a four-year, $100 million extension with $57,220,000 guaranteed and an average amount of $25 million per season.
To make long stories shorter, the Metcalf/JJAW debacle was so bad that every roster snafu the Eagles have made, particularly passing on Justin Jefferson for Jalen Reagor, has looked worse as a result (because it forces us to bring up the 2019 draft as a result and live the nightmare again).
A.J. Brown may prove to be a better wideout than D.K. Metcalf. Let’s hope he does. PFF ranks Brown in the top ten heading into 2022. Metcalf was left off of the top ten.
Now, there are reasons why D.K. could still earn more coins. One of which is he had the ability to see Brown sign his deal first and could ask for more money when his number comes up. In the end, however, it’s hard to argue against Brown being slightly ahead of where D.K. is right now, so to land him and do so for less than we see Metcalf making a year from now has to be viewed as a win for Howie Roseman and the Eagles brass.