The Eagles were fortunate that former USC quarterback Matt Barkley lasted until the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft last weekend.
According to Eagles GM Howie Roseman, the Birds tried to trade up into the latter stages of the third round Friday night without success, but managed to work out a deal to pick first on Saturday morning and land Barkley.
Whether Barkley will eventually emerge as the starter at QB for the Eagles is in many ways not the point of this piece.
I decided to write because Barkley’s story is being played out in the media as one of him stupidly going back to Southern Cal for his senior season when it is speculated he would have been a top-10 pick in the 2012 draft and thus would have signed a $10 million or so contract.
(If you don’t believe how harsh I’m painting my colleagues to be, just take a listen to Jim Rome).
Barkley decided to honor a commitment and returned for the 2012 college football season, which came with highs and lows – but more lows than he and the Trojans would have liked.
Maybe Barkley was trying to press his luck and follow Andrew Luck as 2013′s top draft pick. I guess that would make him greedy.
But by all accounts, Barkley simply felt he had unfinished business at USC and that he wasn’t ready for the NFL last season. While he may have been wrong about how his college season ended up turning out, he’s no more wrong than NFL front office personnel who loved him in 2012 and ran away from him in 2013.
In short, Barkley did not get 90 picks worse in one season.
Maybe he was overestimated in 2012.
Maybe he was underestimated in 2013.
But if I’m Matt Barkley and I want to complete my college commitment unafraid of what might happen next, I shouldn’t have to defend my decision just because I didn’t get a big payday. That’s Matt Barkley’s issue, not ours.
Remember the 1999 draft? Is Tim Couch happy with how that turned out? How about Akili Smith? Or even Cade McNown or Daunte Culpepper, who at least had some fleeting success in the NFL?
They may have gotten fat bank accounts out of the experience, but once their NFL careers got out to underwhelming starts, they never recovered.
When that happens to a player, they are said to be “stealing money.” Not in the Andrew Bynum kind of way – for lack of effort or caring – but in the way where money is thrown at them because of what they did in the past at another level, with no real assurance that they can compete effectively at the next level.
Does a 25-year old want to make a deal with the devil and take the big payday while living the rest of his life as a walking example of someone who didn’t come close to living up to his potential?
I applaud Matt Barkley for choosing the path that felt right to him. It may not be as financially rewarding at first – or maybe ever.
But he will now have the chance to truly earn it…and I would suspect he will enjoy a richer life – not necessarily measured in dollars – as a result.