Beyond the universal reaction of stunned, it was all a matter of perspective how one might view the transaction disseminated from Eagles headquarters Saturday morning. Eight days before the season opener against the Cleveland Browns, Howie Roseman traded starting quarterback Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings.
Wow, wow, and triple wow.
For those who did not think the Eagles had even a sliver of hope to accomplish something good this season, this could be considered the greatest trade in franchise history. In return, the Eagles made the recently announced 2017 NFL draft on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway far more interesting for the locals. Roseman recovered the first-round pick he surrendered to the Browns for rookie quarterback Carson Wentz and gave the team's fans reason to scream the letters E-A-G-L-E-S out loud on a Thursday night near the end of April.
We can't wait for the draft has always been a loser's lament, but if you're willing to sit through what we're about to witness during the 2016 season, then we won't spoil it by reminding you that this is the franchise that gave you Danny Watkins, Marcus Smith, and Nelson Agholor as first-rounders earlier in the decade.
The Eagles will also receive a fourth-round pick from the Vikings, but if Bradford leads Minnesota to the NFC championship game it becomes a third-round pick. If the Vikings win the Super Bowl, it becomes a second-round pick. If you think that's possible, then you must have also thought the Eagles at least had a chance to win a bad division with Bradford at quarterback.
It was possible and preferable to the potential broken dream that is so often a first-round draft pick. We never got a chance to see what Bradford might have been at his best. Remember, this was his first offseason since 2013 in which he did not have to rehab an injury and he was playing well that season before suffering the first of two ACL injuries to his left knee in Week 7. Maybe this was the year he remained healthy and played like a former first overall draft pick?
That was more possible than the Eagles' winning the NFC East with Wentz or Chase Daniel, but it did not stop Roseman from heaving the 2016 season into the Atlantic Ocean.
"Our job is to try to build something great," Roseman said Saturday afternoon at the NovaCare Complex. "I also think it would be a discredit to our veteran players and really our whole football team to discount them and the effort they've given us."
Actually, it is the executive vice president of football operations who has discredited his veteran players by making this trade. Imagine how it must feel to be Jason Peters, Rodney McLeod, or Leodis McKelvin. Peters is 34 and in his 13th NFL season. He has more than enough money to retire and live a happy, healthy life, but he is on record as saying he wants to win a Super Bowl before that happens.
The odds were long that it was going to happen with Bradford, but the quarterback had provided some measure of hope with a strong performance in his preseason finale against Indianapolis. That, combined with a potentially strong defense, had made things at least mildly interesting as opening day approached.
Now, this season is all about the development of Wentz and it is hard to imagine that is what McLeod and McKelvin thought they were signing up for as free agents during the offseason.
Roseman, of course, would never admit that this season has been trashed in favor of the future, but his answer about expectations for 2016 was hardly reassuring.
"Throughout the offseason our expectations were that we're going to get better as a football team," Roseman said. "We're going to reflect the determination and the drive that this city has. We're going to be tough on both sides of the ball . . . and we kept 11 offensive linemen and defensive linemen and we'll see progress. I think that's the expectation. How that translates, I have no idea."
Here's how it translates: The first-round pick the Browns obtained for Wentz next year is going to be a very high one, maybe even the first overall. The Browns must also feel pretty good about their opening-day chances against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.
Roseman said he spoke with his veteran players throughout training camp and during the preseason and said he got positive feedback about Wentz and Daniel, the only two quarterbacks on the roster after Saturday's trade.
"We feel like they have a lot of confidence in those guys as well," Roseman said. "This gives [the veterans] all an opportunity to show their leadership and to all rally around [Wentz and Daniel] and come together as a football team."
Perhaps, but what it does not give them is a chance to win this year, and that's difficult to digest for players who know that next year is never guaranteed when you play a fast-moving collision sport.