During the 2008 season, the one in which the Eagles eventually played the Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game, the Eagles reportedly had a deal done with the Kansas City Chiefs to acquire Tony Gonzalez for a 3rd round pick and a player. This was revealed by Jay Glazer on Mike Francesa’s radio show on WFAN (audio here).
“The Kansas City Chiefs had a deal done with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Green Bay Packers to trade Tony Gonzalez before he went to the Falcons that offseason, during the year,” said Glazer.
“It came down to about 20-25 minutes before the trade deadline. And it was agreed upon. It was a 3rd round pick, plus a player, and Tony was going to have to pick which team, and was all for it. It was going to be the Packers or the Eagles. And again, Andy Reid had told us, (Packers head coach) Mike McCarthy had told us, and at the 11th hour (Chiefs president) Carl Peterson says ‘Eh, you know what, ask them for a 2 instead of a 3.’ And [the deal] had been done, and Tony thought he was gone.”
At the time, Gonzalez was the premier TE in the NFL. He finished the 2008 season with 96 catches for 1058 yards and 10 TDs. The Chiefs eventually did get a 2nd round pick for Gonzalez that offseason from the Falcons, although the pick they got was a year later in the 2010 draft.
The Eagles could have really used Tony Gonzalez during the 2008 season. L.J. Smith was the starter, and it was clear to anyone watching the Eagles that season that he wasn’t a good player anymore (if he ever was). Smith finished the season with 37 catches for 298 yards and 3 TDs. The Eagles also had Brent Celek, who was in his 2nd season as a pro at the time, but was still developing as a backup. Celek finished the 2008 season with 27 catches for 318 yards and 1 TD. It’s noteworthy that Celek actually had a great NFC Championship Game, with 10 catches for 83 yards and 2 TDs.
If the Eagles had given into the Chiefs’ late demands for their 2nd round pick in the 2009 draft, they would have missed out on drafting LeSean McCoy.
It’s difficult to know what players they would have ended up with if Peterson hadn’t reneged on the trade and the Eagles only had to give up their 3rd round pick. The Eagles ended up trading their 3rd round pick during the 2009 draft, which led to a series of additional trade-backs:
It’s also tough to say who Gonzalez would have chosen between the Eagles and Packers. The Eagles finished the regular season that year at 9-6-1, while the Packers finished 6-10, but at the trade deadline that season the Eagles and Packers were both 3-3.
Gonzalez has held up well, despite being 37 years old. He remains a productive player and should be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Here are his numbers from that 2008 season to the present.
You can’t help but wonder what would have happened in that 2008 season (and subsequent seasons as well) with Gonzalez, but the Eagles are probably better off with LeSean McCoy. But obviously, a 3rd round pick and a player for Tony Gonzalez would have been a steal.