The Current Quarterback Situation, From A to Z

The Current Quarterback Situation, From A to Z

When the Eagles finally signed Trent Edwards last Thursday after a month-long courtship, there was a sense the depth chart had crystallized at the quarterback position. Edwards would battle third-year signal caller Mike Kafka for the back-up job behind an injury-prone Michael Vick, while Vince Young is allowed to depart a free agent, his services no longer required.

Then on Friday, the Eagles interviewed Robert Griffin III at the NFL Scouting Combine, and the whole town went crazy. Could the team move up in April's draft to select a Heisman Trophy-winning QB? Are they serious about bringing another arm into the mix? Isn't Andy Reid already pot committed to Vick, especially now that the organization is feeling a renewed sense of urgency? So many questions.

Presumably, VY is still out of the equation -- perhaps he would be a better fit on the hardwood, surrounded by Chuck and MJ. As for everyone else, and their relationships with the Birds: all bets are off.

Simply interviewing an exceptional prospect does not necessarily mean the front office intends to take that player, obviously. However, whatever the Eagles' level of interest in RG3, the sheer knowledge of their meeting may have changed everything. After the jump, we review the depth chart as it stands currently, and the impact this shocking development holds for the future under center.

3. TRENT EDWARDS
Let's start with something that should have been evident right away. The addition of Trent Edwards did not automatically conclude the club's business with quarterbacks.

Chosen by the Bills out of Stanford in the third round of the '07 Draft, like many that came before him, Edwards could not single-handedly turn around that moribund franchise. He flashed some potential, but Buffalo's front office, in a seemingly constant state of flux, waived Edwards in the midst of his fourth season after he surrendered the starting job to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Edwards spent the rest of the season with Jacksonville, then the following summer in Oakland's training camp. He didn't make the final roster, and spent a year out of football.

Key phrase here: spent a year out of football. There are a lot of things to like about a low-risk signing like Edwards. He's 28, has prototypical NFL size (6-4, 231), and went to a good school. He started 32 games for the Bills, amassing a 14-18 record, 60.9% completion percentage, and tossing 25 touchdowns to 27 interceptions -- not great, but respectable considering the situation.

Edwards strikes me as a player who suffered from inconsistent development in an ever-changing environment. In fact, the only thing that hasn't changed in Buffalo recently is the last time they made the playoffs. He isn't known for his arm strength, but Edwards is an intelligent guy, and given Reid's ability to turn a QB's fortunes, it makes for a nice off-season project for the Birds.

Again though, he just spent a year out of football. Cool, the team brought somebody in to compete, but let's not go guaranteeing Edwards a roster spot. The Eagles will have more options once free agency opens March 13. With his experience in the west coast offense, Jason Campbell could be a fit. Kyle Orton is a seasoned veteran. Hell, it will never happen, but Donovan McNabb would be a compelling choice to play behind Vick if you believe familiarity breeds success, and there's no rush to get something done there.

Of course, the draft isn't off the table, either.

So then why sign Edwards now? Well, it doesn't hurt to snag him early. They beat other potential suitors to the punch. Insurance in case they can't land the guy they want later. Then, finally, there is the simplest explanation, that being he is here to compete with Mike Kafka for a job... but which one?

2. MIKE KAFKA
It's far too early to say for certain, but Edwards's arrival might be an ominous sign for Kafka.

At first, the competition sounds innocent enough, a journeyman pushing the inexperienced prospect for his promotion, a battle which the incumbent is (hopefully) projected to win. Throw another candidate into the picture, one of the name free agents, or a relatively high draft pick, and suddenly you're not talking about Kafka playing for the back-up role. Instead, he's fighting for a roster spot.

If Edwards didn't preclude the Eagles from finding another QB, the RG3 interview may have only confirmed the suspicion they would like to. In his case, that's more an indictment of Vick than anybody else. After all, they aren't trading up in the first round of draft to add depth.

Speaking more broadly though, any other quarterback the team brings in going forward without subtracting another could signal the coaches have measured a ceiling for Kafka. A Campbell/Orton-type signing suggests they aren't quite comfortable with him at number two. Entering year three, maybe they never will. A selection made over the first couple days of the draft indicates they don't think Kafka will ever take over the reigns.

The latter doesn't have to reflect poorly on Kafka, either. Fourth-rounders often have their limits, and all the coaching up in the world can't make stars out of them all. Having seen him attempt 16 whole passes in meaningful football games, we really have no clue about his progress to this point.

Just saying, you can judge a lot by the movement of the front office. If they stop at adding Edwards, Mike Kafka may have some type of future in the NFL. If virtually anybody else you recognize is brought in, it's fair to speculate it might not work out for Kafka, at least not in Philadelphia.

1. MICHAEL VICK
Are the Eagles already feeling buyer's remorse over their deal with Vick?

We still don't expect management to make a sales pitch to Peyton Manning once the Colts finally release him from his contract, or search for any direct replacement for Vick in 2012 for that matter. His base salary of $12.5 million for this season is fully guaranteed, and for better or worse, Vick remains the best chance the club has of making a run this year.

Apparently, beyond 2012 is another story.

When it was first revealed the Eagles had interviewed Griffin, we took it with a grain of salt, chalking it up to management doing their due diligence. RG3 is the consensus second-highest rated QB in the draft behind Andrew Luck, and with the Rams interested in moving out of the second overall pick, there is a better than 50% shot somebody would want to trade into their spot. The Browns at four and Redskins at six are in prime position to leap up a few spots. The Birds select 15th.

Is it possible for them to get as high as two? Yeah, it's possible. It's also very, very expensive. Initial estimates have the Eagles giving up this year's first, second, and third rounders, as well as a first in 2013. Whoa.

Yet even given the outrageous cost, the front office has themselves in a position to at least hold the conversation. As of right now,
they already own an additional second-round pick this year, as well as a second fourth, and could receive more decent choices if they part with Asante Samuel and/or DeSean Jackson in a trade. The firepower is there, with the only hang-up being whether St. Louis would want to move all the way back to 15 if one of the other teams has a similar offer on the table.

Meanwhile, Vick isn't getting any younger. He'll be 32 once the season starts, he hasn't been able to stay healthy, and last season, he did not show signs of growing into the quarterback who could dissect defenses with his mind as easily as he can with his left arm and his legs. What's more, the vast majority of the guaranteed money on the "six-year, $100 million contract" he signed in August will have been paid, so the Eagles could be free as soon as next season if they feel inclined.

But RG3 to Philly? It's fun to think about, however, open to scrutiny. Can they claim they are going for broke this season, then trade half their draft and mortgage the future for a quarterback who won't play this year? Well, when you scan their roster, their only glaring hole is at linebacker, and they would still have free agency and a pick or two to address that need. Does having a young QB to develop buy Andy Reid even more time if they falter again in 2013? Not sure about that one, but he's not the only man in the world who can groom a star passer.

Then there is always the hint Mike Vick is gonna turn things around. Even after a poor season, the Eagles were 7-4 last season in games he started and finished -- 7-3 if you remove the game against the Cardinals where he dealt with broken ribs. His health will always be of some concern, but behind an improving offensive line, if he can make his reads just a little bit faster, throw a few more balls away, and get down or out of bounds before taking so many big hits, who knows, maybe he could survive for a full year, and play at a Pro-Bowl level once more.

Yet after much deliberation, we must concede there is a legitimate interest for the Eagles' part, even if it's bolstered by secondary reasoning. Maybe they don't wish to tip their hand on another free agent or rookie QB, or they are just trying to drive up the cost for the Redskins, engaged in a cunning plot to bury Washington at the bottom of the division by having them send a never-ending array of high draft picks away for single players at a time. But ultimately, how could they not be interested in Griffin?

Eagles camp Day 6 observations: The pads finally go on

Eagles camp Day 6 observations: The pads finally go on

It kinda looked like football today!

After months of watching Eagles run around in shorts, the pads went on this morning. No, the team didn’t go live (tackling to the ground), but the pads were popping some and it actually resembled the real game way more than the previous days' sessions. The plan is to go three days with pads before a day without them.

A few guys – Nolan Carroll, Rueben Randle, to name a few – left practice early thanks to injuries, but it didn’t appear any of the injuries were serious (see story).

Here are some observations from Saturday’s practice:

• The much-anticipated first play of 11-on-11s was won by left defensive end Vinny Curry, who blew past right tackle Lane Johnson and would have had a sack if not for that pesky red jersey Sam Bradford was wearing.

How did Curry feel today?

“Hot," he said. "Hot."

You don’t look hot.

“I got my crop top on, you know what I mean,” he said, showing off his green shirt with midriff showing. “It was fun though, man. I got a lot to learn. I’ve got a long way to go.”

• After Curry got a chance to show his stuff with the first team, Marcus Smith flashed with the twos. Yes, that Marcus Smith. On the first play, he beat Matt Tobin, who has been working at left tackle. It’s obviously early and he’s the fourth-best defensive end on the roster, but the switch to the 4-3 defense could actually make him a serviceable NFL player. He’s better going downhill. Smith looked good in 1-on-1 drills against Dennis Kelly later.

• My favorite drills in training camp are offensive line vs. defensive line 1-on-1s. It’s high entertainment between the two biggest and strongest positions on the field. Fletcher Cox is unstoppable in these drills and will be until Brandon Brooks is healthy enough to practice. He’s used to going against monsters from his time in Houston against J.J. Watt. Today, Cox wasn’t stoppable.

Rookie Alex McCalister looks like a string bean and was no match for Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Rookie Destiny Vaeao had a nice power move on Dillon Gordon. Brandon Graham beat Malcolm Bunche with a sweet move to end the drill, which brought plenty of cheers from his defensive line teammates.

• Play of the day belongs to Randle. He made an incredible one-handed grab on a ball from Sam Bradford during individual drills. Randle has been getting looks with the first-team offense and has looked good. Unfortunately, he left early with cramps.

• If you’re looking for a bunch of quarterback analysis today, I don’t have much for you. All three were certainly better than they were in Friday’s disaster, but didn’t get a chance to really air the ball out. The biggest longball play of the day came in 7-on-7s when Carson Wentz aired it out to a diving Josh Huff, who made a great grab. Huff did have a glaring drop today, though.

Bradford had a really nice pass to Chris Givens during 11-on-11s. Bradford also had a great pass – of about 45 yards – to Xavier Rush, who dropped what should have been a touchdown.

• Trey Burton is the forgotten tight end. Yes, he’s third on the depth chart but Brent Celek isn’t getting any younger and Burton is showing some real pass-catching ability this training camp, especially for someone with just three career receptions. He made a great catch on a high ball today.

• It looks like Jordan Matthews’ struggles catching the ball are well behind him. He’s been very solid this summer. He made a few great catches early. On one, he leaped up and snagged the ball around Jordan Hicks and Malcolm Jenkins. A few minutes later, he made another good catch on the sideline.

• Wentz used a hard count to draw off the defense in 11-on-11s. Hard counts. Remember them?

• Earlier this week, Reuben Frank wrote about Wendell Smallwood and that despite his small physical stature, he plays big (see story). Well, we saw it on Saturday. In the open field, instead of trying to go around Jalen Mills, Smallwood lowered his shoulder and tried to go through him. That’s a nice way to start the practices in pads.

• As the pads went on, Blake Countess’ helmet cam was gone, but one appeared on Chase Daniel. It looks like the Eagles are going to keep testing these things out this training camp. Here’s what the camera looked like when it was on Countess:

• Tomorrow’s practice at 10 a.m. will be open and free for all fans at the Linc. No tickets required, just show up for first-come, first-serve seating. Fans can park in K Lot starting at 7 a.m. and gates open at 8 a.m. Enter on 11th street or Darien Street entrances.

What might you see? Well, things are getting a little feistier now that the players are able to hit each other.

When will they start getting under each other’s skin?

“Maybe tomorrow,” Curry said with a smile. “You never know when. You never know who’s having that hot, sweaty, bad day. You just never know. That’s the beauty of training camp."

Pros, cons and likely prospects of a Vince Velasquez trade with Rangers

Pros, cons and likely prospects of a Vince Velasquez trade with Rangers

Vince Velasquez just turned 24 in June.

He's under team control for the next five years and won't start making a lot of money (in baseball terms) until about 2020.

He has a big fastball that averages 93.7 mph, the 10th-best velocity of any NL starting pitcher.

He can be really, really good at times — the 16-strikeout shutout of the Padres, the 10-strikeout game against the Marlins, scoreless performances against the Mets, Indians and Diamondbacks.

And even when he's not at his best, like Friday night in Atlanta, Velasquez can succeed because his stuff is that good. He's made 18 starts this season and allowed two runs or fewer 11 times.

All of these things make him valuable to the Phillies. And all of these things make him attractive to every other team in the majors.

It doesn't seem likely that the Phils will ultimately pull the trigger and trade Velasquez to the Rangers, who are in "deep discussions" with the Phils on a deal, according to CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury (see story). But Texas has such an intriguing group of prospects that it makes sense for the Phillies to listen.

Velasquez, for all of his strengths, has not proven yet that he can be a durable, 180- to 200-inning starting pitcher. He's never even reached 125 innings at any level in the minors. There have been numerous games this season in which his pitch count has soared — either because of a lack of control, nibbling around the plate or a lot of foul balls. The result has been some early exits. That was a knock on Velasquez when he was in Houston and he hasn't yet fully outgrown it.

That's why it could make sense for the Phils to trade him. Perhaps they believe they'd be selling high on a guy who's shown so much talent and promise but not the type of consistency of a No. 1 or No. 2 starter.

Obviously, it makes sense to move him only if the return is strong. And the Rangers could certainly offer a strong package if they decide Velasquez is their guy.

The names you'll see thrown around a lot as the Aug. 1 trade deadline approaches are power hitting third baseman Joey Gallo, infielder Jurickson Profar and outfielders Lewis Brinson and Nomar Mazara.

Mazara is a pipe dream. The Rangers refused to include him in last summer's Cole Hamels trade, and he's only increased his worth to them this season by hitting .282/.334/.417 with 12 homers and 41 RBIs for a first-place team. He'll be a top-three finisher for AL Rookie of the Year. It's almost impossible to envision the Rangers trading away a valuable piece of their major-league roster for Velasquez. It would be a wash, at best.

Gallo and Profar are more realistic targets for the Phillies in a Velasquez trade. Gallo, 22, has some of the best raw power in the minors, true grade-80 power. The 6-foot-5, left-handed hitter bashed 23 homers in the minors last season, 42 the year before and 40 the year before that. Initially, that power translated to the majors when Gallo was called up last June. He hit homers in each of his first two games and had five in his first 50 at-bats before pitchers adjusted. So far in 136 big-league plate appearances, he's hit .192/.287/.408 with seven homers and 63 strikeouts.

The whiffs will always be a part of Gallo's game. To me, he has Brewers' first baseman Chris Carter written all over him — a lot of homers, a lot of strikeouts, low batting average. Gallo could be better than Carter because he plays a more important position and will hopefully be more than a .217 career hitter like Carter, but you also have to keep in mind that the Phillies already have Maikel Franco at third base. If Gallo was traded here, he'd likely play either first base or left field.

It's hard to say right now whether or not Gallo is more valuable or a better fit for the Phils than Velasquez. Usually, it makes sense to go with the everyday player over the pitcher who can make an impact at most twice a week. But, as stated above, Velasquez can give you six quality innings even when he's not "on." He has the most upside of any of the Phillies' young starting pitchers, including Aaron Nola.

Profar, who is somehow still just 23 after years atop prospect lists and a few injuries, would seem to be a better fit. He's a multi-dimensional player who has impressed scouts for years for a reason. He can play every infield position in addition to left field, he has the look of a .300 hitter, and his power is developing.

A switch-hitter, Profar has hit .301/.356/.440 for the Rangers in 181 plate appearances this season with four doubles, two triples and five homers. It's been a while since his last full season in the minors, but in 2012 he hit .281 with an .820 OPS, 14 homers and 62 RBIs as a 19-year-old everyday shortstop at Double A.

The opinion here is that Profar will be a better major-league hitter than Phillies top prospect J.P. Crawford.

There is, however, a vast financial difference between Profar and Gallo. Profar will go to salary arbitration in 2017, 2018 and 2019 before becoming a free agent. Gallo, like Velasquez, won't start making meaningful baseball money until around 2020.

But a team like the Phillies that has deep pockets and so much open payroll space moving forward should be more concerned with receiving the right player than playing the cost benefit game.

Another thing to consider here is that the Rangers need Profar. He's been playing every day for them and playing well at second base, third base and shortstop. He played Friday night in left field. He's started a bunch of games at first base, too, and figures to get some more reps there with Prince Fielder out for the season and Mitch Moreland having just an OK year.

Brinson is another name to keep in mind. A right-handed centerfielder, he was Texas' first-round pick in 2012. He had a terrific year at three different levels in 2015, hitting a combined .332/.403/.601 with 31 doubles, eight triples and 20 homers. He's struggled this season at Double A Frisco, hitting .227 with a .692 OPS in a hitter-friendly environment.

The Rangers also have some other pieces who could help the Phillies, but you'd figure any deal for Velasquez would have to include one of these three. Otherwise, it just makes no sense to even entertain the idea of a trade.

And really, if the Rangers are willing to include one or more of those three young players, they could get any team in the majors to listen to an offer for a starting pitcher. A package centered around two of them might be enough for Chris Sale. Maybe one of them could net Atlanta's Julio Teheran. Velasquez is really good, but so are the combinations of trade packages the Rangers can put together.

Eagles Injury Update: Nolan Carroll, Rueben Randle leave practice early

Eagles Injury Update: Nolan Carroll, Rueben Randle leave practice early

The Eagles' first day of training camp in pads wasn’t without some minor casualties.

Cornerback Nolan Caroll left early with a sore ankle and wideout Rueben Randle left early with cramps. Both are considered day-to-day.

After Carroll left the field, Eric Rowe got some first-team reps with the defense. Randle was having a very good day, standing out with a one-handed grab, before going inside.

Undrafted wide receiver Marcus Johnson, from Texas, went inside early with a quad injury. Corner Ron Brooks (cramps) also went in early.

The Eagles started the day without starting right guard Brandon Brooks (hamstring) and starting running back Ryan Mathews (ankle). Neither have practiced since the whole team got together for the first full-squad on Thursday.

Darren Sproles continues to get most of the first-team reps at running back, with Kenjon Barner filling in. Veteran Stefen Wisniewksi has been taking Brooks’ spot at right guard.