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Eagles trade Matthews for cornerback

Posted by Eric Fisher On August 11

The Eagles solved part of their problem at cornerback by acquiring Ronald Darby from the Bills, but it cost them their leading receiver during the past three seasons.

The Eagles traded Jordan Matthews to the Bills on Friday, along with a third-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, in exchange for Darby, who started 29 games during his first two seasons.

It is expected that Darby, who was the runner-up for the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2015, will step in immediately as a starter a cornerback, a position of dire need for the Eagles. Second-year corner Jalen Mills and veteran Patrick Robinson, added to the roster during the offseason, started at cornerback during Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Packers. Ron Brooks, the Eagles’ top slot cornerback, injured his left hamstring during Thursday’s 24-9 defeat.

Darby, a second-round pick in 2015, has two interceptions in two seasons. He has two seasons remaining on his contract

By contrast, Matthews, a second-round selection in 2014, is entering the final year of his contract. Matthews accumulated 225 catches for 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns during his three seasons with the Eagles.

Perhaps the Eagles decided it was likely going to cost too much money for them to re-sign Matthews. With the addition of veterans Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, both signed to one-year contracts, and draft picks Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson since last season, the Eagles may believe they have enough depth at receiver — at least when compared to cornerback — to make Matthews expendable.

The Bills also traded receiver Sammy Watkins and a 6th-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft to the Rams in exchange for cornerback E.J. Gaines and a second-round pick in 2018. So the Bills, who will visit Lincoln Financial Field next Thursday, traded receiver Watkins and cornerback Darby for receiver Matthews and cornerback Gaines while picking up second- and third-round draft choices and losing a sixth-round draft pick.

The Eagles are now without their top three picks from the 2014 draft: defensive end Marcus Smith (26th overall), who was released just before the start of this year’s training camp, Matthews (42nd overall) and receiver Josh Huff (86th overall). The top remaining pick on the roster is defensive back Jaylen Watkins, a fourth-round selection (101st overall) who has been released and reacquired by the Eagles during his career.

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