Twice in the past five drafts, the Eagles and Cowboys have made trades that will significantly affect who we'll see on the field for each team Sunday night.
In 2007, the Birds sent their first-round pick (26th overall) to Dallas for a second-round pick, a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick.
The Cowboys ended up taking outside linebacker Anthony Spencer out of Purdue. In the second round, as you may recall, the Eagles drafted Kevin Kolb (36th overall). In the third, they took Stewart Bradley (87th overall). And in the fifth, they took defensive back C.J. Gaddis (159th overall).
So, how'd that turn out four years later?
Let's start with Spencer. He's started every game for the Cowboys since 2009 and has 18.5 career sacks. Based on coverage in the Dallas papers, the take on Spencer is that he flashed great potential in 2009, but didn't live up to expectations the following season. Results so far this year under Rob Ryan have been favorable, and Spencer has three sacks in six games.
He's started 44 games in four-plus seasons, but has never made a Pro Bowl.
Meanwhile, Kolb didn't bring the Eagles much in terms of on-field production. He started seven games, was awarded the starting job in 2010 and then lost it to Michael Vick. The Eagles got a second-round pick and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie back for him this offseason.
Bradley only started 29 games for the Eagles, although it felt like he had been here for a long time. He really only had one good year - 2008. Bradley missed all of 2009 with an injury and was pretty average in 2010. He signed with the Cardinals as a free agent and has been on the field for only about 21 percent of the defensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.
Gaddis never played a snap for the Eagles.
It's worth noting that the Eagles have just one player still on the roster from that 2007 draft: Brent Celek.
So going forward, the impact of that trade will really be Rodgers-Cromartie and next year's second-round pick vs. Spencer. A couple months ago, I probably would have argued that the Eagles would have the edge in that comparison, but Rodgers-Cromartie has been unimpressive, and the Eagles haven't exactly been getting great production from their draft picks the last two seasons.
The second trade took place in 2010. The Eagles moved down four spots in the second round to No. 59 and gave the Cowboys the 55th overall pick. The Birds also picked up a fourth-rounder.
At No. 55, Dallas selected linebacker Sean Lee. He's the Penn State product who will be wearing No. 50 and flying all around the field at the Linc Sunday night. Lee is the Cowboys' leading tackler. He also has three interceptions and never comes off the field, having missed only two snaps in the last four games, according to PFF.
Too bad the Eagles are stocked at linebacker and couldn't have used a guy like that...
The Birds took tight end Clay Harbor with the extra fourth-round pick, but ended up trading the No. 59 pick to Cleveland for a third-rounder (No. 71 overall) and two fifth-rounders (Nos. 134 and 146 overall).
They were not done yet, though, trading the 71st pick to the Packers for the 86th pick and a fourth-rounder (No. 122). At 86, the Eagles picked Daniel Te'o-Nesheim.
At No. 122, the Eagles selected Mike Kafka.
Getting back to the fifth-rounders the Eagles received from the Browns, they selected Ricky Sapp with one and traded the other to the Chargers. With the one pick from San Diego, they took Riley Cooper at No. 159. The Eagles also got a 2011 fifth-rounder in the deal, selecting running back Dion Lewis.
Got all that? Here's the Cliff Notes version: The Cowboys got Lee; and the Eagles ended up with six players: Te'o-Nesheim, Harbor, Kafka, Sapp, Cooper and Lewis.
Te'o-Nesheim was labeled a reach at the time and is spending this season on the practice squad. Sapp left the team during training camp. Cooper hasn't done much, although I'm not ready to write him off as a potential contributor. His value took a hit when the Eagles added Steve Smith this offseason.
Harbor at least has a role as the second tight end and has improved in his sophomore season. Kafka could end up being the backup in 2012. And I like what I've seen from Lewis in limited action.
So overall, two of the players are no longer on the 53-man roster, and none of the other four are starters.
Obviously, it looks like the Cowboys ended up with quality, and the Eagles ended up with quantity in that deal. When it comes to having an impact in Sunday night's matchup, it's no contest that Dallas has the edge.
IF THE EAGLES SIGNED FREE...
There were reports that the Eagles wanted to sign Cowboys offensive tackle Doug Free in the offseason. Apparently, Free all but admitted that the reports were true (without coming outright and saying so) when speaking to the Dallas media.
"I don’t know anything about that, no, sorry," Free said with a smile on his face, per Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com.
Andy Reid didn't exactly deny interest either.
"I think he’s a good player," Reid said. "I can’t tell you I thought we ever had him. I will tell you I do like him and I did like him back in that period."
What would the line look like if the Eagles had signed Free? He would have played right tackle, and Todd Herremans would have likely never slid over, remaining at left guard. Evan Mathis probably would have won the right guard spot, and Danny Watkins very likely would still be on the sidelines.
Finally, guess who's simulating Vick for the Cowboys at practice? Dez Bryant. Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com has some details. And in case you missed it from Thursday night, I posted 15 things you should know about this matchup.