After a year of wild speculation, an endless parade of rumors and reports, and a few billion calls to sports talk radio, Chip Kelly was unable to land his hand-picked would-be quarterback.
When the Titans selected Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota with the second pick in the draft Thursday night, it left Kelly without the quarterback he’s coveted since he left Eugene for Philadelphia 27 months ago.
Mariota won the Heisman Trophy this past season after leading Oregon to the national championship game. He was Kelly’s starting quarterback in 2012.
According to NFL Network, the Eagles offered the Titans a massive package in exchange for the No. 2 pick, including two first-round picks, a third-round pick and several players, including stud defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and recently acquired Sam Bradford.
Kelly’s inability to acquire Mariota shattered the dreams of thousands of Eagles fans who have obsessed over the 21-year-old native of Hawaii, who threw 105 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in three years as the Ducks’ starting quarterback.
Technically, there is still a chance the Titans could ship Mariota to another team later Thursday night, but that’s not likely.
Mariota-mania in recent weeks reached a feverish pitch among frustrated Eagles fans, who believe Mariota, ideally suited to run Kelly’s high-flying no-huddle offense, was the best hope for the Eagles to end 54 frustrating years without a championship.
There were so many trade scenarios being tossed around, it was hard to keep track of the various complicated routes analysts speculated Kelly could use to move from the 20th draft pick to the second pick to take Mariota.
The scenarios were complicated by the fact that several other teams -- including but not limited to the Jets, Rams, Bears and Browns -- were in touch with the Titans about the second pick.
Kelly, who recently predicted that Mariota would win multiple Super Bowls in the NFL, was on the record as saying he wouldn’t part with multiple premium draft picks to move up high enough to draft where Mariota would presumably go.
In the end, he kept is word.
“Marcus is the best quarterback in the draft,” Kelly said at the NFL owners’ meetings. “But we will never mortgage our future to go all the way to get someone like that.”
With Mariota out of the picture, the Eagles are left with Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley, G.K. Kinne and Tim Tebow at quarterback.
None of them has played a full season since 2012.
Bradford, acquired in March from the Rams in the deal that sent Nick Foles to St. Louis, was believed to be one of Kelly’s bargaining chips.
But Bradford, himself the first pick in the 2010 draft, is only signed through the 2015 season, and without a contract extension, his value was minimal because he’s due to become a free agent after this season.
The Eagles went into Thursday’s first round with the 20th pick overall, plus No. 52 overall in the second round, No. 84 overall in the third round, No. 113 in the fourth round, Nos. 145 and 156 in the fifth round. No. 196 in the sixth round and No. 237 in the seventh round.
A trade from No. 20 to No. 2 would have been unprecedented in NFL draft history, and the 18-pick jump would have been the largest in Eagles first-round history.