The Dion Jordan trade rumors just won’t go away. On Thursday afternoon, The Mercury writer Bob Grotz reported that the Philadelphia Eagles offered the Miami Dolphins a second-round pick and defensive end/outside linebacker Brandon Graham in exchange for last April’s No. 3 overall pick earlier this offseason.
The Dolphins, with Jordan still on their roster, obviously declined said proposal, but the question still beckons: should they have accepted?
On the surface, the offer doesn’t appear all that enticing. A second-round pick is far from fair compensation for a player who was a top-five talent a year ago and would still likely be a top 10 talent in this year’s deeper class. Throwing Graham into the pot doesn’t appear to sweeten it all that much either when you consider the former first-round pick has only accumulated 11.5 sacks in four seasons with the Eagles.
Graham, however, is a more formidable pass rusher than his sack total suggests. In 2012, Graham’s third year in the league, he ranked as the second most efficient 4-3 defensive end in the entire NFL according to Pro Football Focus. Graham’s +26.8 pass rushing grade was the third highest at his position. With those impressive grades, it’s curious why he only played 435 snaps, but it does explain how he only registered 5.5 sacks despite being so effective.
2013 was a different story for Graham, who saw his efficiency rating and snaps drop as the Eagles switched to a 3-4 base defense. As a stand up outside linebacker, Graham ranked as the 16th most efficient player at his position and sacked the quarterback a mere three times. He was far from a detrimental player in the new scheme, but would likely benefit from any trade that places him back in the 4-3.
So while Graham’s production has been underwhelming, he’s a capable pass rusher who, coupled with a high draft choice, likely made the Dolphins at least stop and consider potentially parting ways with Jordan. Graham is a better fit in the 4-3 while Jordan projects to be a better fit in the 3-4 if the Dolphins aren’t going to let him play multiple positions in their scheme like they arguably should.
Of course, the Dolphins wouldn’t just be giving up Jordan for Graham and a pick. It’s far more complicated than that. They would be taking on a sizable cap hit as well — a $10 million cap hit in 2014 to be exact. And that is a no-can-do.
The sheer burden of that sort of cap penalty makes the Eagles’ offer much less appealing. If the Dolphins trade Jordan after June 1, they would have the luxury of dividing up that $10 million cap hit over the next two years, but June 1 is obviously after May’s draft and consequently wouldn’t benefit the 2014 Dolphins much.
It should take substantially more than Graham and the No. 54 overall pick to pry Jordan and $10 million away from the Dolphins. Even a first-round pick and Graham likely wouldn’t get the job done, although Grotz, who broke the story about the offered trade, suggests it would. An immensely talented player and $10 million is just too much to give up for arguably any pick and arguably any situational player — which is all Graham has been after four years in reality, despite exceptional grades.
Jordan has an elite ceiling. There’s a reason the Eagles are so eager to trade for him, after all. Instead of giving up on that potential after one disappointing season, the Dolphins need to accentuate it by letting Jordan rush the passer much, much more frequently, placing him at linebacker on occasion where he has the athleticism to thrive and overall, just giving him the opportunity to become the dominant player he’s only showed flashes of with a limited workload.
The Eagles are shrewd to pursue Jordan. If there was ever a time to steal him from the Dolphins, it’s now. A new GM, who has no allegiance to Jordan, has taken over in Miami and could be more inclined to consider Jordan’s 2.0 sacks as a rookie than his jaw-dropping film at Oregon.
But if the Dolphins’ brass is as astute as the Eagles’, they’ll want Jordan on their roster just as much and will decline all trade requests — even if the ante is upped to a fist-round pick or is offered again after June 1.
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