Is Joe Banner the Most Valuable Eagle?

Andy Reid certainly isn't Philadelphia's most loved professional coach, but overall, I think Eagles fans do credit the coach with the team's decade-plus success. It has been his offensive schemes, his player decisions and his strategic choices that have driven the Eagles to so many winning seasons.

But I wonder (just playing devil's advocate) how much of the success is attributed to Reid and what percentage of the credit actually rests with the only man in the organization who is more detested -- Joe Banner?

I've previously talked about how we can't really separate the two, often after reporters suggest a big rift in the Eagles front office. But it's an interesting case to make. Coaching and personnel decisions are probably more important than financial ones, but how much more?

As good as Reid's been, I don't think many people would make the case that he is the best coach in the NFL. He'd most likely be in everyone's top five, but rarely number one. On the other hand, there's a good argument to be made that Banner is the single best financial/salary cap executive in the game. In today's NFL, that might be more valuable -- or at least closer than you might think.

Let's be honest, how much success could Reid have had without Banner keeping the team active on the free agent market every off-season despite consecutive playoff appearances? The NFL, as noted recently, has the most financial parity and revenue sharing of any professional sports league. It's extremely difficult to outspend other teams (although that doesn't stop Dan Snyder from trying). Therefore, most franchises go through winning and losing cycles tied as much to salary restrictions as player performance.

Reid is responsible for the high quality of the product on the field, while Banner enables Reid to coach without significant restraints or restrictions. It will be interesting to see if the team can sustain success if one of them departs before the other.

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