The Philadelphia Eagles aren’t trading Carson Wentz. When Doug Pederson said that Wentz is their starting quarterback, he meant it. That’s not the issue in Philadelphia, and it never really was. Finding a franchise quarterback is exceptionally tough and Wentz has all the tools (with a few caveats I’ll get to in a bit). So instead, the discussion turns to the immediate future of Nick Foles. And let’s be clear on this – the question is purely about whether or not Nick Foles wants to stay in Philadelphia where is a folk hero, or move on to try and find a new home.
Eagles are All In With Wentz Despite Injuries
The Eagles moved up in the 2016 NFL Draft to pick Carson Wentz because they believe he’s a 10-year starter that can lead Philadelphia to multiple Super Bowls.
Wentz, outside of getting injured, has done nothing to destroy that belief. From Day 1, Wentz has shown the skills, including leadership skills, to be a franchise NFL quarterback. Even this season, Wentz played lights out in almost every game he started.
Doug Pederson loves the guy and Eagles fans should to0. He’s got the it factor that separates the elite quarterbacks from the rest. He’s closer to Andrew Luck than he is to Jameis Winston in terms of comps.
The main issue – and we have to talk about this – is that Wentz is injury prone. It’s true that he started all 16 games during a pedestrian rookie season, but he followed that campaign up with an injury-shortened run when he blew out his knee in 2017 and then suffered a cracked vertebrae in 2018. When he comes back, there will be major scrutiny on his durability.
That is totally fair at this point, but to qualify him as “injury prone” isn’t totally on point. There’s a difference between a guy being outright fragile, and a player that’s just suffered two fairly serious injuries. We’ve seen quarterbacks come back from horrifying setbacks and return to form. The Eagles have to count on Wentz being able to recapture what made him special instead of worrying about whether or not he’s going to hurt again. You can’t go through life like that in general. That’s why they have to go all-in on Wentz. He’s younger, has a much higher ceiling and is simply better than Nick Foles.
Nick Foles is Not a Franchise Quarterback
Yes, we love Nick Foles. He has a magic touch that we all rode to big profits at the end of the year. But he isn’t – and never will be – a franchise cornerstone. Foles just completed his seventh season in the NFL. His only real success has come when Carson Wentz has been injured.
That’s not to say Foles isn’t a starter in the NFL. He most definitely is given how bad so many starters played this season. If Wentz has the “it factor”, then Foles has to be credited for certain intangibles as well. If I could point to anything, it’s that he is both resilient and calm under pressure. He’ll rarely lose you games, and once in a while he’ll win some for you.
But, he also won’t carry your team the way an elite quarterback can. Brees, Mahomes, Luck, Rodgers, Brady and all of the top tier guys have the ability to will their team to success. Try as we might, Foles doesn’t have that in him.
That doesn’t at all suggest that Nick Foles can’t go on to have a lengthy and meaningful career.
Eagles Will Pick Up Foles’ Option
This is where it gets interesting. Philadelphia must pick up the option on Foles’ contract by Feb. 5. The option calls for the Eagles to pay Foles $20 million in 2019, and extends him under the guise of what amounts to a one-year deal.
Sounds crazy to pay your backup quarterback 5 times more than what you pay your starter, but : the Eagles can only get compensation 1 of 2 ways. The first is by trading Nick Foles, in which case they must pick up the option on his contact. The second is the more obvious of the two with Foles turning down $20 million (or it not being offered) and him testing free agency.
If Foles decides to do that, the Eagles will get a compensatory draft pick from whomever signs Foles.
It might not even come to that because Philadelphia could find a trading partner. However, finding a trading partner is a longshot. But, the Eagles will want to test those crazy trade waters to find out for themselves. It’s the NFL and insane trades happen more often than we want to admit.
Foles Can Buy His Way In To Free-Agency
For once, Nick Foles has control over his destiny, and he deserves it after pushing the Eagles to a Super Bowl victory and nearly capsizing the Saints last weekend. There are basically two ways this breaks down: either the Eagles pay him $20 million for next season, or Foles pays the Eagles $2 million for his freedom. That gives him the chance to secure a long-term contract with a nice, Case Keenum-like, signing bonus to play somewhere else.
Okay. So, we know that Foles is most likely going to pay the $2 million to get out of the contract. Now, let’s get back to football.
Teams Who Will Have Interest in Nick Foles
Speaking of Case Keenum, I’m putting the Denver Broncos right at the top. John Elway knows he’s wasting Von Miller’s best years with journeyman Case Keenum, who has a team option for 2019 meaning that the franchise can cut him if they choose. By signing Foles, Elway will again be grabbing a journeyman quarterback, but at least this offseason’s journeyman quarterback is a Super Bowl MVP.
Both Tampa Bay and Jacksonville should consider moving on from their hapless starters. How many seasons have we used the word potential to describe Jameis Winston? Blake Bortles doesn’t even belong in the NFL. Between the two Florida teams, Jacksonville makes the most sense because ANYONE would be better than Bortles. Tampa, meanwhile, has to find a suitable backup for Jameis with Fitzpatrick hitting the wire. Arians is all-in on Winston, but the team is not fully committed to him by any stretch.
Sounds nuts, but I also think the Oakland Raiders might go for Nick Foles. Jon Gruden turned journeyman quarterback Rich Gannon into a Pro Bowl player. Not only that, but the Raiders already unloaded their two best players in Amari Cooper and Kahlil Mack. Why not unload their franchise quarterback, sign Foles, and work like heck in the draft to protect him? It fits the mold of what Oakland has done in the recent past, whether Oakland fans would like it or not.
The final team I’m adding are the Los Angeles Chargers. The Bolts are young everywhere except at quarterback. Rivers has been in the NFL for 15 years. He might have one more season, maybe two, left. Foles knows the deal. He won’t cause waves. He won’t have to start. Instead, he’ll wait in the wings while Rivers and the Chargers decide on the best way for Philip to exit. Those are the teams who should show the most interest in signing Foles once he hits the open market. Foles signing on a playoff contender like the Chargers comes down to money and whatever he perceives is the right opportunity.
Let’s all stick to that question of who is going to sign Nick Foles, instead of worrying if Philadelphia will go with Foles or Wentz. Philly answered that question with the contract Foles signed after last year’s Super Bowl season.