Eagles chairman Jeffrey Lurie has an unfortunate habit of making ringing statements in his annual state-of-the-team address at Lehigh every summer, statements that sometimes come back to haunt Lurie when the organization's actions don't seem to quite match his rhetoric. Everyone remembers the time Lurie patiently explained to reporters that other organizations were always telling the Birds their way of handling things was "the gold standard" in the NFL, despite their lack of a Lombardi Trophy.
This year's phrase was "pedal to the metal," Lurie's effort to combat perceptions that his organization focuses excessively on the long term, to the detriment of the season at hand. This characterization began to sound unfortunate last week when at the league trading deadline, the Lions finally dealt wideout Roy Williams, and the Chiefs dangled tight end Tony Gonzalez, either of whom would have improved the 3-3 Eagles' chances in the NFC East this season. The Eagles decided the price was too high in both cases, which is a defensible position -- but not a position that gibes with "pedal to the metal" the way most of us understand it.
Lurie hasn't been interviewed in the week since the deadline came and went, but team president Joe Banner spoke with the team's Website on Monday. Not surprisingly, Banner defended the lack of activity. Most of us, even last summer, figured that if Jeffrey ever truly were inclined to drive "pedal to the metal," Joe would be perched in the passenger's seat working the calculator, explaining the ruinous effect such an approach would have on fuel economy.
I tend to agree with Banner that the Cowboys really gave a lot for Williams, particularly in the middle of the season, with Williams having to learn a new offense on the fly.
You read right here before the deadline that the Eagles were skeptical about the Chiefs really wanting to trade Gonzalez, and Banner's statements reflect that skpeticism. Paul Domowitch reported last week that the Birds had offered a fourth-round draft choice that would have become a third if Gonzalez met certain performance requirements. That's not a bad offer for a 32-year-old tight end, even a great 32-year-old tight end. The Packers apparently offered a third straight up and thought they had a deal until right before the deadline, when the Chiefs are said to have abruptly demanded a second-rounder, instead.
All of that leads you to wonder whether Kansas City was really willing to trade Gonzalez, or just wanted to pay lip service to his trade request. Still, given the play the Birds have gotten from their tight ends this season (fair to poor) and the impact such a move might have had on the locker room, I probably would have tried to force the Chiefs' hand by offering a second-round pick. Maybe that's why I'm not an NFL executive. Or maybe Gonzalez would have put the Birds closer to the front of a roiling, talented NFC East pack coming down the stretch.
At any rate, here's part of what Joe B. had to say for himself:
"We've said for years that we're always looking for ways to improve the team every year at the trade deadline as well as on an every-day basis (and) we're doing that. I do think the Chiefs have confirmed that we were one of the teams that inquired about Tony Gonzales and it's a true story. I can't go beyond that or talk about any other players, because they are still on their (respective) teams. Based on the comments coming out since (the trade deadline) and this was our read of the situation when we got in touch (with Kansas City) was that they really did not want to trade him. It didn't mean that if there was something that had blown them away they wouldn't have been interested in terms of somebody being willing to overpay. But the read we had from the beginning was that they were very reluctant, although they felt compelled based on his request (to be traded) to at least listen to offers they got. I guess in the end they made the judgment that none of the offers they got were good enough."
On the idea of 'going for it' and overpaying for a player in a trade:
"It's a meaningless term to me. We're 'going for it' every day of the year, as are more teams. If 'going for it' means would we do something stupid, then I hope the answer to that is no. If 'going for it' is, would we look for every opportunity to try to be aggressive and try to make it happen ... the answer to that is always yes."
On the Roy Williams trade to Dallas:
"They paid a lot. Time will tell. I wouldn't pay that much for a player like that -- and I think he is a very good player, so I don't mean that as if he isn't -- but that's a major step."