PHILADELPHIA — Desperate for a franchise quarterback, the Philadelphia Eagles can get their man. Soon.
The Cleveland Browns will wait for their guy.
The Eagles acquired the No. 2 overall pick in next week’s draft from Cleveland in exchange for five picks on Wednesday. The Browns are getting Philadelphia’s first-round pick this year (No. 8), a third-round pick (No. 77) and fourth-rounder (No. 100), plus a first-rounder in 2017 and a second-rounder in 2018.
Cleveland also sends a fourth-round pick in 2017 to the Eagles.
“It’s a tough price to pay,” said Howie Roseman, Philadelphia’s executive vice president of football operations. “We’re very sure we’re going to get the player we want. We’ve spent a ton of time investigating these guys and looked at the quarterback market going forward, and this is a rare opportunity we’re in.”
The trade allows Philadelphia to select one of the top quarterback prospects, Carson Wentz of North Dakota State or Jared Goff of California at No. 2. The Los Angeles Rams already acquired the top overall pick from Tennessee for a slew of picks and have indicated they will take a quarterback.
It is the fourth time the top two selections in the draft have been dealt.
“These guys are pretty even,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said of Wentz and Goff. “From all the physical tools, both of them are extremely gifted. Good arm strength, good mobility. Obviously, Carson is a little bigger, maybe a little better athlete right now. There’s not much separating those two.”
The Eagles signed Sam Bradford to a $35 million, two-year contract in March. Roseman said he’ll be the starter. They also signed backup Chase Daniel to a $21 million, three-year deal. But Roseman couldn’t resist an opportunity to move up after acquiring the No. 8 pick from Miami for cornerback Byron Maxwell, linebacker Kiko Alonso and the 13th overall pick.
“We’re going to invest in quarterbacks,” Roseman said. “The key to being championship caliber over a long period of time is quarterbacks.”
The last time the Eagles drafted a quarterback in the first round was 1999 when Andy Reid took Donovan McNabb at No. 2. McNabb led Philadelphia to five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl appearance.
The Browns were in position to finally land a quarterback after more than a decade of futility and failure. Cleveland has had 24 starting quarterbacks since 1999, when it chose Tim Couch ahead of McNabb. But the club’s new front office wasn’t enthralled with Goff or Wentz and decided to get more picks to help first-year coach Hue Jackson build a winner.
Cleveland may still be able to get a quarterback — possibly Memphis’ Paxton Lynch — in the draft, but it won’t be one of the top two guys. After the Rams leaped from No. 15 to No. 1, the Browns were no longer going to have their choice of Goff or Wentz.
The Browns recently signed Robert Griffin III, making it easier to trade the second pick. Griffin signed a two-year, $15 million contract and was viewed as a “bridge” QB until the team develops a young player.
The Browns’ new front office led by Sashi Brown has placed heavy emphasis on analytics in preparing for this year’s draft and putting together Cleveland’s roster. With so many needs, the Browns chose to accumulate as many picks as possible to fill holes on both sides of the ball.
“These picks will play a major role in building our team for long-term sustained success,” Brown said. “We want to assemble a young nucleus of talented players and this trade positions us really well. There is a good depth of talent in the first round and we felt we could make a larger impact to our roster by adding more draft picks and that’s why we made the decision to trade down.”
Cleveland now has 12 selections in this year’s draft, including six of the top 100 picks.
The Eagles host the Browns in the season opener on Sept. 11.
Previous years in which the top two picks were traded, according to STATS:
• 1967, when New Orleans sent the top spot to the Baltimore Colts, who took Bubba Smith, and the Giants sent the second pick to Minnesota, which grabbed Clint Jones.
• 1975, when Atlanta got the No. 1 selection from the Colts and took Steve Bartkowski, while Dallas acquired No. 2 from the Giants to take Randy White.
• 1997, when the Rams got the top spot from the Jets to draft Orlando Pace, and the Saints sent the No. 2 selection to the Raiders, who picked Darrell Russell.
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