The Eagles sent quarterbacks coach Doug Pederson and a scout to College Station, Tex., last week to work out Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
The Eagles currently own the 15th pick in the first round of the April 26-28 draft. Considering that Tannehill, despite just 19 college starts, probably will be one of the first eight players selected in the April 26 draft, and could go as early as third, they may have just been doing their due diligence in the event Tannehill falls closer to them.
Or they could be contemplating a trade up to get Tannehill.
Their starting quarterback, Michael Vick, turns 32 in June. He is coming off a disappointing season in which he finished 23rd in the league in interception percentage, 26th in third-down passing, 25th in fourth-quarter passing and had the worst passer rating in the NFC East against the blitz.
Vick signed a six-year contract prior to last season that included $35 million in guaranteed money. But he'll get the last of that guaranteed money this season. So, if the Eagles want to part ways with him after the season, there will be no financial repercussions.
Because of his reckless style of play, the Eagles can't count on Vick staying healthy. He missed three games last season with broken ribs and three more the year before with torn rib cartilage.
Their replacement options at the moment, if Vick gets hurt again, aren't particularly enticing. They signed former Buffalo Bill Trent Edwards, who didn't even play in the league last year. Mike Kafka, a fourth-round pick in the 2010 draft, has just 16 regular-season attempts.
The Eagles have stressed to Vick the importance of playing less recklessly.
"It's an important issue and he realizes it," head coach Andy Reid said. "He realizes that the last four teams standing in the playoffs last season, their quarterbacks started the whole season.
"He knows that just from film study that there are times in a game when he can go down and save himself from some hits. Now, it's just a matter of doing that. It's been a topic his whole career and it surely has been since we've had him. I think he understands that there's a problem and a situation."
Reid said the Eagles likely will take a quarterback at some point in this draft. They currently have nine picks, including an extra one in the second round, giving them three of the first 51 selections.
Sources in the organization say they like Tannehill a lot and think he has the makings of a franchise quarterback. If he was there at 15, they wouldn't hesitate to take him. But he won't be.
The Eagles have plenty of experience at trading up in the first round. They moved up 11 spots in the 2010 draft to grab defensive end Brandon Graham and moved up two spots in the 2009 draft to take wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.
They moved up 12 spots in the '04 draft to select offensive lineman Shawn Andrews, and moved up 15 spots in the '03 draft to get defensive end Jerome McDougle.
But even if they want to trade up for Tannehill, it remains to be seen whether they have the ammunition to pull it off. Their most likely trading partner would be the Cleveland Browns, who own the fourth pick. Reid was an assistant on Browns president Mike Holmgren's coaching staff in Green Bay in the '90s. Browns general manager Tom Heckert is the former general manager of the Eagles.
But even trading up to four might not be good enough. The Minnesota Vikings, who have the third overall pick, have been fielding calls from teams interested in trading up for Tannehill.
The Eagles almost certainly would have to give up one, if not both, of their second-round picks for a trade-up that significant, as well as their first-round pick in next year's draft. An extra trade chip that they have is Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel, who isn't expected to be back.
"The league has changed so dramatically with the evolution of the passing game," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. "Teams aren't going to let them slide. Everyone wants a quarterback. It's no doubt the most important position. If you have a liking for someone, you're not going to wait and hope you get him. You're going to go get him."
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