Eagles stick it to Giants in draft with help from, wait, the Cowboys?

Martin Frank
Delaware News Journal
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The Giants must be asking themselves what on earth they could have possibly done to upset the Eagles.

First, there was the fourth quarter of the regular-season finale, when the Eagles replaced quarterback Jalen Hurts with third stringer Nate Sudfeld in a game the Eagles were trailing by just three points.

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By not winning, the Eagles ended up with a better draft position, and at the same time, cost the Giants a chance to win the NFC East division title and a trip to the playoffs.

But that can't match the indignity the Eagles bestowed upon the Giants on Thursday night, when the Eagles traded up with, of all teams, the Dallas Cowboys, to go from No. 12 to No. 10 in the first round – leapfrogging the Giants, who were at No. 11 – to draft wide receiver DeVonta Smith.

New York Giants head coach Joe Judge on the sideline during the fourth quarter. The Giants defeat the Cowboys, 23-19, at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, January 3, 2021, in East Rutherford.

The Giants, as it turned out, were all set to draft Smith.

It's like Batman joining forces with the Joker to screw over Robin.

Or, as Giants coach Joe Judge put it: "Look, trades happen a lot. Normally, it doesn’t happen within the division, but the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

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It was nice of Judge to quote the ancient Chinese general and philosopher, Sun Tzu, the author of "The Art of War," because that's basically what this is.

The Eagles wanted Smith. They knew the Giants wanted Smith. So they made a deal to make sure they got the Heisman Trophy winner who had 1,856 yards receiving last season.

The Giants, no doubt  frustrated, immediately traded back with the Bears at No. 20 to draft ... another receiver in Florida's Kadarius Toney.

Toney might end up being a good NFL receiver, and sure, the Giants got an extra first-round pick in 2022 out of the deal. But most mock drafts had Toney going in the second round, and, well, he's not Smith.

Sure, the Eagles will insist they have no malice towards the Giants, that, as Michael Corleone in "The Godfather" put it: "It's not personal. It's strictly business."

After all, the Eagles desperately needed a top receiver, and they saw the chance of Smith being in their range.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, wanted a cornerback, and yet Carolina at No. 8 took South Carolina's Jaycee Horn and Denver at No. 9 took Alabama's Patrick Surtain II.

Sure, the Cowboys could have stayed at No. 10 and drafted Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons. But the Cowboys could still draft Parsons at No. 12 while getting an extra third-round pick (No. 84) out of the deal from the Eagles.

"When you trade in the division, you understand that you're not going to get any values to that," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. "It's going to have to work for them as well.

"I think when you're dealing with the draft, you’ve got to do what's best for your team, and obviously they thought this was the best move for their team, and that's why they did it. They got who they wanted, and we got who we wanted."

And then Roseman said something that would make any Eagles fan cringe: "It's always been a good relationship. It's respect for their organization and certainly Mr. Jones – Jerry, and Steven. We have a lot of respect for them as well, competing against them."

It's not the first time the Eagles and Cowboys have made a draft-day trade.

They did it as recently as last year in the fourth round, when the Eagles traded back into the fifth round while acquiring an extra fifth-round pick this year.

It's not even the first time the Eagles and Cowboys made a deal in the first round. That happened in 2007, when the Eagles traded their first-round pick, No. 26 overall, to Dallas for the Cowboys' second-round pick.

The Eagles used that pick on quarterback Kevin Kolb, who was supposed to succeed Donovan McNabb, but never did. The Cowboys drafted linebacker Anthony Spencer, who played eight seasons for the Cowboys, starting 67 games.

When it comes to messing up their NFC East brethren, the Eagles don't play favorites here, either. They messed up the Cowboys' plans in the 2018 draft after trading out of the first round with the Baltimore Ravens.

The Eagles then used that second-round pick acquired from Baltimore, at No. 52, and moved up three spots in a deal with the Indianapolis Colts, to get ahead of Dallas at No. 50.

The Eagles, adding insult to injury, used that pick to select a tight end named Dallas ... Goedert, the player the Cowboys wanted after Jason Witten announced his retirement shortly before the draft.

The Cowboys were hurt so much by that move that they coaxed Witten out of retirement for the 2019 season.

So when it comes to the draft, the Eagles take no mercy and play no favorites. They'll make a deal with the devil if they have to, even it's wearing a star on its helmet.

Contact Martin Frank at mfrank@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.

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