By Harry Allison

There are so many rumors about the Eagles and their intention to go after Marcus Mariota, the Oregon QB who fits Birds’ coach Chip Kelly’s offensive system to a T, that I normally don’t pay any attention.

But when Mark Eckel of, who has the best sources in the NFL, reports something I pay attention — and you should too.


Admitting it’s not going to be easy, a person familiar with the Eagles’ offseason plans says the team “is going to try” to move up in the NFL Draft to select Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.

The Eagles have the 20th overall pick — and Mariota, who could go as high as No. 1, is not expected to fall out of the top five picks. The first day of the draft is April 30.

“From No. 20, it’s certainly not going to be easy,” said the person, who requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak on the subject. “It’s probably going to take moving up twice to do it. There’s going to be some wheeling and dealing involved.”

Asked if he thought it could happen, the response was telling.

“Can it happen?” he asked. “I don’t know. But they’re going to try.”

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly recruited Mariota to Oregon and coached him for his first two years there. Kelly has not hidden his feelings about the quarterback, calling him the “most talented kid I coached in college,” while reminding reporters he predicted Mariota would win the Heisman Trophy when he saw him as a freshman. (Mariota won the award in 2014.) Most recently, Kelly compared Mariota to future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning.

Mariota was quoted as saying it would be fun to be with his old college coach again.

“Obviously, [with] my relationship with Coach Kelly, it’d be a lot of fun to be a part of that offense and be a part of that team,” Mariota said.

With the recent shuffling of the Eagles’ front office, Kelly now has the final say on personnel matters, answering only to owner Jeffrey Lurie, who writes the checks.

“That makes it a little easier,” the person said. “There isn’t anyone in (Kelly’s) way.”

What it would take to move from No. 20 to the top five has been debated. One NFL personnel executive told NJ Advanced Media a month ago that he would ask for a No. 1 and a No. 2 this year, a No. 1 next year and running back LeSean McCoy.

Some have speculated it would take a package of at least three first-round picks and additional picks. Others have thrown out the idea of a “Mike Ditka” deal in which the Eagles would send all of their 2015 picks to a team for the chance to land Mariota, much like the former New Orleans Saints head coach did in 1999 in order to select Texas running back Ricky Williams.

Teams making bold moves to acquire a certain player have seen it backfire on them, however. The Saints failed to win after the historic trade and it cost Ditka his job. But the Redskins, who acquired the picks, struggled, too. They won the NFC East in 1999, then missed the playoffs the next five seasons.


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