Reid, Eagles could go for quarterback in draft

Mike Kafka (right) is expected to back up Michael Vick at quarterback next season. (Clem Murray/Staff file photo)
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Right now, the Eagles' backup quarterback options are Trent Edwards, who spent last season out of the NFL for reasons unrelated to injury, and Mike Kafka, who could not supplant Vince Young on the depth chart in 2011.

Andy Reid may head into the coming season with Edwards and Kafka as his reserves behind Michael Vick. But history would suggest that the Eagles coach would prefer some greater stability at quarterback.

Of course, there is stability for next season, and then there is long-term stability, and the selecting of a quarterback relatively high in the draft would help address both concerns for Reid.

The Eagles' curious approach this offseason makes it plausible that they will expend one of their first three picks on a quarterback.

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  • Reid was not available to talk about the state of his quarterbacks on Monday at the owners meetings. He and the rest of the Eagles contingent - owner Jeffrey Lurie, president Joe Banner and general manager Howie Roseman - rushed from league meeting to meeting with nary a word about their team.

    But Roseman is slated to meet with local reporters on Tuesday, and Reid is required to attend a league-mandated roundtable on Wednesday. Still, with the Eagles what they do - or don't do - is often as important as what they say.

    Since the end of the season the Eagles have done the following in regard to the quarterback position:

    Jan. 18: They worked out Edwards, who spent all of 2011 on the street after the Raiders released him just before the season.

    Jan. 31: In his first interview since the season finale, Reid was as critical as he's ever been of Vick's freewheeling, injury-prone style of play. "You look at the last four teams that are playing in the playoffs, and all four quarterbacks didn't miss a start," he said.

    Feb. 23: The Eagles signed Edwards, who has a 14-19 career record as a starter, to a one-year contract.

    Feb. 23: Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, expected by many to be the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, met with Reid and the Eagles at the NFL scouting combine.

    Early March: The Eagles entertained the idea of pursuing Peyton Manning. Reid, in a statement released last week, conceded the Eagles looked into acquiring Manning. But, he said, "That wasn't the direction we were heading in. Michael is our guy."

    There were several other free agents that could have been brought in to compete for the backup spot, but the Eagles took a pass on those candidates. Jason Campbell signed with the Bears. Kyle Orton inked a deal with the Cowboys. David Garrard went to Miami to vie for a starting role.

    There were - and are - other possibilities, but a scanning of the names is all the explanation one needs for why the Eagles have not signed another quarterback. Donovan McNabb and Young may be the most attractive names still on the list. Enough said.

    But, again, it's hard to believe that Reid, who values quarterbacks highly, would have only Edwards or Kafka as insurance should Vick get hurt. And Vick, as history would suggest, will likely get hurt.

    The Eagles, of course, hope that Vick plays all 16 games and then some this season. And they hope he plays well enough to make the decision on whether he returns for 2013 that much easier. But with only $3 million of the remaining $15.5 million that Vick is guaranteed due beyond 2012, the Eagles can certainly cut ties after this season.

    However optimistic he may be about Vick, Reid needs a safeguard. The coach will likely give Kafka emphatic praise on Wednesday and deem him the backup. But the third-year quarterback is limited. He will not be the heir apparent.

    That is why Reid met with Griffin. The Eagles often meet with players they will not draft, but the scuttlebutt at the owners meetings was that Reid had great interest in trading up for the Baylor quarterback.

    Ultimately, the Redskins dealt three first-round picks and a second-round pick to the Rams to move into the second spot, more than the Eagles were willing to mortgage. But Reid has the wherewithal - the 15th overall pick and two second-round selections - to slide up into the fourth spot if he covets Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

    On Monday, Browns general manager Tom Heckert told reporters that the fourth pick was up for sale. He also reiterated Cleveland's confidence in quarterback Colt McCoy, so take it for what it's worth.

    The Eagles, in fact, may have to move up to the third pick, owned by the Vikings, if they wanted to snag Tannehill before the Browns or the Dolphins (No. 8). Scouts, though, are conflicted on Tannehill. A broken foot has sidelined him since the end of the season, so he missed out on the Senior Bowl and the combine. He is expected to throw later this week.

    If Tannehill isn't the answer, the Eagles could look for the future in the second round. With picks 46 and 51, they should have the opportunity to get either Brandon Weeden, the 28-year-old gunslinger from Oklahoma State, or Kirk Cousins, the solid if unspectacular quarterback from Michigan State.

    The last time Reid drafted a quarterback in the second round, he took Kevin Kolb of the University of Houston in a controversial selection. For that reason, and the supposed clock ticking on Reid's tenure, some have speculated that Lurie would be against drafting a quarterback.

    That doesn't change the fact that they still need one - for now and for the future.

     


    Contact Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745, jmclane@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.

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