Not 10 minutes after reports surfaced that Rams quarterback Sam Bradford had torn the new anterior cruciate ligament that replaced the one he tore last year, the rumor mill spun about a potential trade between the Eagles and Rams involving Mark Sanchez.
Sanchez has looked reborn this preseason in Chip Kelly’s offense. With an 80.6 completion percentage, he is tied with Tom Brady for the NFL’s top preseason completion percentage among quarterbacks with at least 14 attempts. He’s thrown two touchdowns, one pick and compiled a 112.5 passer rating, highest on the team.
Coincidentally, Kelly was asked last week about a potentially moving Sanchez before the season. He didn’t slam the door on the suggestion.
“What are you giving me?” Kelly said. “I mean, we'll listen to anything for anybody. We're not going to bury our head in the sand and say no. But it better be a pretty good deal in terms of what it is.”
There are some strong arguments for why the Eagles and Rams make sensible trade partners, but there are even stronger reasons for why Sanchez won’t be dealt to St. Louis.
Let’s break them down.
Why it could happen:
Sanchez has the hot hand
The fifth overall pick in 2009 looks much more like a franchise quarterback these days than his last years with the Jets. Granted, it’s the preseason, but Sanchez has kept his turnovers down, made smart decisions and has obviously benefited from having more playmakers around him with the Eagles than he did with the Jets. The Rams, meanwhile have Shaun Hill and Austin Davis as backups. Hill’s a solid veteran but after starting his career 6-3 as a starter he’s just 6-10 since and 3-7 in his last 10.
Sanchez is familiar with the offense
Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was the Jets’ offensive coordinator during Sanchez’s first three years with the Jets, which means he called the plays when the Jets made the AFC championship in Sanchez’s first two seasons.
The Rams have playmakers
They’re got some good weaponry right now, with dangerous Tavon Austin entering Year 2 and Kenny Britt having a great camp and staying out of trouble. Zac Stacy has emerged into a legit halfback, tight end Jared Cook can stretch the field and they’ve upgraded their offensive line. The Rams have also built an impressive defense and boast arguably the league’s best defensive line. They’re really just a competent quarterback away from playoff competition.
The Eagles have quarterback depth
Nick Foles is clearly the starter and Matt Barkley has also produced in the preseason. Barkley, who’s starting Thursday’s finale against the Jets (see story), is completing 62.5 percent of his passes working with the third-team offense. He’s been in the system for a year after the Eagles traded up in the fourth round to get him. Fans are down on Barkley but he’s had some very good days in camp.
The Eagles are infamous for dealing quarterbacks
Let’s go through the list in recent history: A.J. Feeley, Donovan McNabb, Kelly Holcomb, Kevin Kolb. If there’s value in the deal, the Eagles won’t bat an eyelash about trading a quarterback.
Why it won’t happen:
The Eagles need Sanchez
An Eagles quarterback hasn’t started all 16 games since McNabb in 2008. Chances are, Nick Foles will miss a game this season and the Eagles are hoping to have as little drop-off as possible if he does. The way Sanchez has grasped the offense so far they’d be hard-pressed to give him up.
The Rams aren’t in financial position to get Sanchez
The Rams have the NFL’s lowest cap space at just under 1.7 million. Sanchez carries a cap figure of $2.25 million, so the Rams would have to make more transactions just to clear room for Sanchez.
The Rams already passed on Sanchez
Sanchez was a free agent this offseason. The Rams could have signed him but opted for Shaun Hill instead. That’s fairly revealing about how they viewed Sanchez at the time, especially knowing Bradford’s injury history.
Rams general manager Les Snead loves draft picks
Snead, a big believer in building through the draft, stockpiles picks like Chip Kelly stockpiles Oregon alums. Go check the Rams-Redskins trade that enabled the Redskins to vault to No. 2 overall in 2012 and get RG3. Why would Snead give up a second- or third-rounder for a one-year rental in Sanchez, who regressed in his last two years with the Jets and missed all of 2013 with a shoulder injury?
The Schottenheimer connection might be overstated
Sure, Sanchez liked Schotty and together they went to two AFC championships, but the Jets fired Schottenheimer because they believed Sanchez would improve under a different play caller. Of course, the Jets weren’t right about that, but so far Chip Kelly has seemingly done the best job of maximizing Sanchez’s talent.