Saints, Eagles Strike Trade for Draft Picks

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Just 24 days before night one of the 2022 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles have agreed to a trade that involves three first-round picks this year and an additional first next year, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

This NFL Draft trade features the Eagles, who held three first-round picks entering the day, giving up the 16th overall pick, the 19th overall pick, and a 6th rounder (pick 194 overall) to the Saints in exchange for the 18th overall pick, a third-round pick (pick 101 overall), a seventh-round pick (pick 237 overall), a 2023 first-rounder, and a 2024 second.

Philadelphia holds 10 total picks in this month’s draft, five of which will be in the first three rounds, while New Orleans will have seven selections, four of which coming in the draft’s first two days.

What This Means for the Eagles

In the immediate aftermath of this NFL Draft trade, Schefter reported that this likely ensures Jalen Hurts will start for the second consecutive season in Philadelphia. With the Eagles’ three first-round picks, some had speculated that the team could move up and select a quarterback in this year’s draft.

2023 is a much better class at the quarterback position, featuring Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Alabama’s Bryce Young, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Philadelphia is now well-positioned to move up, should Jalen Hurts turn in an underwhelming season and neither of their first-round picks put them in position to select their preferred choice. 

The Eagles continue to put themselves in flexible positions in future drafts with plenty of ammunition to either add cheap, young talent or move the picks for other assets. They’re also still in good shape to address two of their big holes, linebacker and wide receiver, with picks 15 and 18 putting them in prime position to add some of the top players in the class, such as Utah’s Devin Lloyd and USC’s Drake London.

What This Means for the Saints

Before bringing back Jameis Winston, the New Orleans Saints were one of the final two teams in the Deshaun Watson saga (along with the Atlanta Falcons) before Watson changed course and decided on Cleveland. By acquiring an additional first-round pick in 2022, the Saints now have the pieces needed to move up again; they recently had Liberty quarterback Malik Willis, a projected top-10 pick, in for a visit.

An interesting element to this deal is Winston’s contract; it’s a two-year deal worth $28 million and $21 million in guarantees, but features a $14 million signing bonus. It’s primarily a front-loaded contract guarantee-wise, meaning New Orleans wouldn’t suffer having Winston ride the bench in 2023.

Further, now left without a first-rounder in 2023, the Saints don’t have next year as a fallback option; unless they’re all-in on Winston, they’re likely to pursue a quarterback this year.

Should they choose to stick with Winston, New Orleans has a Terron Armstead-sized hole at left tackle. Mississippi State’s Charles Cross is the ideal option for New Orleans, but he’s a likely top-10 pick.

The Saints are also in desperate need of a wide receiver. Michael Thomas hasn’t been able to stay on the field the past two seasons, and the room around him is rather lackluster. Ohio State’s Chris Olave is one name to monitor at the position.

Regardless, with the picks they gave up, the Saints appear to believe they can contend in the NFC this year. That philosophy lends itself favorably to addressing OT and WR, but another trade-up seems likely nonetheless.

Who Won the Trade?

Ultimately, nobody can truly win until all of these picks are made and they’re given time to produce. However, on paper, the Philadelphia Eagles got the better deal.

ESPN’s Seth Walder reported that the Eagles “gained the equivalent of a late-first rounder in value through the trade IF — and this is a big if — we treat 2022 and 2023 picks as equals in terms of value.”

Teams often tend to under-value future draft picks, but if this deal gets the Saints two immediate starters and a playoff berth, it’s ultimately a win for them. However, should the Saints fail to hit on their picks and trend towards a rebuild, this deal could be heavily detrimental in the long run.

That’s the fun part of this specific NFL Draft trade and others like it — very easy to analyze, but very hard to accurately project long-term effects, as value changes once the players’ careers play out.

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