What to make of the Saints, Eagles swap of first-round picks

Image of Eagles Saints trade

On Monday, the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles agreed to a trade that included eight draft picks between the 2022 and 2024 NFL Drafts. The deal impacts three first-rounders this year.

Here are the complete details:

At first glance, it’s a complex trade to comprehend. The Saints move up two spots from No. 18 to No. 16 and add an additional first-rounder, No. 19 overall. The Eagles slide back to No. 18 and add a first-round pick in 2023 and a second-rounder in 2024. Some mid-rounders in this year’s draft are involved, too.

A deeper dive into the details suggests the Eagles have a bigger plan.

It’s do-or-die for Jalen Hurts in 2022

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts was adequate in 2021. It was his first full season as a starter in the NFL. Hurts finished with an 8-7 record, completing 61.3% of his passes for 3,144 yards, 16 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. He ran for 784 yards and another 10 scores. It was a good season for fantasy football managers but left questions about whether he’s the long-term answer for Philadelphia moving forward.

The 2022 NFL draft won’t offer the Eagles a viable option to compete with Hurts. The top quarterback prospects in this year’s draft are similar or equal to Hurts’ talent. It’d make no sense for Philadelphia to invest in a first-round quarterback who isn’t an obvious upgrade at this time. But that won’t be the case next year when several high-caliber quarterback prospects are expected to declare for the draft.

Bryce Young (Alabama) and C.J. Stroud (Ohio State) are the top prizes. They’ll contend for the No. 1 overall pick if either or both declare. They’re apparent upgrades over Hurts, but the Eagles aren’t bad enough to realistically compete for the top pick in 2023. Now, with an extra first-round pick in their arsenal, they’re better positioned to potentially trade up.

The Eagles’ decision to load up for the 2023 draft is a message to Hurts. If he doesn’t develop in 2022, his time as Philadelphia’s starter is over. It’s smart roster planning by General Manager Howie Roseman, who’s developed a reputation as one of the NFL’s front office chess players.

As for the Saints, they are in the market for a quarterback this year. Perhaps, adding an additional first-rounder will help them land a prospect like Kenny Pickett, Malik Willis, or Matt Corral. At the very least, they have a player or two high on their wish list that they expect to be on the board around that 16th pick. And they could be planning for an aggressive trade this year as well. New Orleans can package the 16th and 19th picks to move up into the top-10 (or higher) if they have a big enough draft crush.

After this trade, one thing is abundantly clear: no two teams have the 2022 NFL draft valued the same. The Saints want more picks; the Eagles want to leverage this year’s capital for 2023. It’s setting up to be a wild ride once the first round kicks off on Thursday, April 28.

Bryan Perez

Bryan is the founder of Pro Football Draft. His work has been featured on The Draft Network, NBC Sports and USA Today. Former CFL scout.

Follow him on Twitter: @BryanPerezNFL