Chip Kelly and Marcus Mariota after Oregon’s 2013 Fiesta Bowl victory.

By Michael McCarthy

Few reporters have their closer to the ground than ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio, who covers the NFL for the Worldwide Leader, and he has some distinct views on Marcus Mariota and Chip Kelly:

“In my opinion, it is virtually impossible to draft Marcus Mariota where the Eagles draft,” ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio said in an interview with 97.5 FM The Fanatic.

“How much the Eagles would have to give up to move up to where they can get Mariota is just Draconian. I can’t see a solution to this problem other than making your team so weak that you mortgage the future. Could it happen? It could. Is Kelly absolutely infatuated with this player? He is. If Oregon wins the national championship, it’s going to be even much more difficult to get this guy. To try to move up to get this guy. But, the quarterback position has to be solved.

“Look around the league. The teams that survive and thrive have franchise quarterbacks. At that position, successful teams have guys that lead your team into the end zone and protect the football. Right now, they have Nick Foles. He’s coming off of a subpar season and can’t stay on the field.”

Paolantonio believes that for the Eagles to have a chance at Mariota, Kelly would have to pull the trigger on a trade that somehow moves the Eagles all the way to the No. 1 pick. That would include somehow persuading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to slide down 19 spots.

“The Glazers have made bold moves in the past. They’ve traded two first round picks for Jon Gruden,” Paolantonio said of the Buccaneers front office. “They’re going to draft Marcus Mariota. You can book it right now. They will draft him. Then they will go out and find a coach who can do that. Lovie Smith can’t do that. Their offensive coordinator can’t do that. They will find a coach who can run that offense.

“Maybe not this year. Howie Roseman this past week, it occurred to him that Chip Kelly has two more years on his deal, they won’t leave him hanging on a lame duck year in the third year. Chip probably said to himself ‘I can wait it out here for two years … then go coach Mariota.’ ”

For the Eagles, though, regardless of how this draft plays out in terms of a possible Mariota trade, Kelly from now on will shoulder all of the praise and blame on personnel decisions after Friday’s front office shakeup.

“Chip Kelly now has total ownership over personnel matters,” Paolantonio said. “Everything that he does with this team, he needs to be held accountable for. He has nobody else to be blamed.”

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