The Philadelphia Eagles are Super Bowl champions. I start that way because I have several friends and colleagues who have been waiting a long time to hear that. I also start that way because the biggest reason for the Eagles finally lifting a Lombardi Trophy is the topic of this piece: Nick Foles.
Many teams have had Super Bowl aspirations scuppered by an injury to their starting quarterback. The 2008 Patriots were coming off a 16-0 regular season but lost Tom Brady in Week 1 and didn’t make the playoffs. In 2016 the Raiders looked like a monster only to lose Derek Carr and turn into a mouse. This year the Packers were rolling through the NFC North until they lost Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone and didn’t make the playoffs.
The Eagles could easily have been just another impressive team to lose their way after their quarterback got hurt, but Nick Foles came in and once he was comfortable in the scheme started making all the throws that Carson Wentz had been. The Eagles scored a ridiculous 79 points between the NFC championship game and the Super Bowl. Foles’ playoff stat line reads: 72.6% completions, 971 yards, six touchdowns, one interception, and 9.2 yards per attempt with a 115.7 QB rating. Not exactly awful.
However, Foles is still going to be their QB2 going into the 2018 season, so what exactly should Howie Roseman do with the star of their show?
There are plenty of quarterback-needy teams that would be willing to make a move for a veteran quarterback who has shown himself able to perform in two systems now. Under Chip Kelly Foles had a 27 touchdown, two interception season. Under Doug Pederson he was a Super Bowl MVP, and we all know that his time under Jeff Fisher should just be thrown out the window now.
The main teams likely to be interested in Foles are the Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, and New York Jets. Firstly, trading for Foles is likely to be a lot cheaper in terms of draft capital than moving up in the draft for your favorite rookie, and Foles is a doubly proven NFL quarterback, he is less of a risk than a talented by untested rookie.
The Cardinals in particular are likely to be keen on Foles. They have just $23 million in cap space, and Foles’ is on a cheap deal for 2018, giving them breathing room to negotiate a longer deal. They are also picking 15th in the draft, leaving them a long way from Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold. Making a deal with the Giants for the #2 pick is going to be like pulling teeth compared to a trade for Foles.
Likewise, the Jets and Broncos have both shown a preference for an NFL-tested veteran over a highly drafted rookie in recent years. The Jets could have used their pick last year on a quarterback but took Jamal Adams instead. The Broncos have seen a highly-touted rookie and a seventh-round project both flame out on them, leaving their quarterback cupboard very bare. If the price tag on Kirk Cousins puts them off then flipping a day two pick for Foles is a very attractive option.
However, there is a very good argument that despite his stock never being higher, the Eagles should hold on to Nick Foles.
He got the starting job because Carson Wentz suffered an ACL & MCL tear in Week 14. Such a knee injury late in the season puts him at risk to not be ready for the start of the regular season in September, nevermind training camp. Having Foles around to lead the way through camp, to help integrate new faces to the offense, would be a huge help for a team that has the roster talent to repeat as champions.
There is also the fact that even if Wentz returns to full health in time for Week 1, he might not be the same guy next season. We have seen plenty of young quarterbacks plateau early and start to decline as the things that worked previously are figured out and eliminated by defenses.
Foles has shown he can make reads and throws in Pederson’s offense to such an extent that they didn’t miss a beat in a Super Bowl, so taking the reins in camp will be easy. Then there is the fact that Foles played so well his presence could drive Wentz to be even better or he could simply be the better option in 2018. Having an open competition for the quarterback spot could be just as productive for the team as adding an extra second-round rookie or moving up the first round a few spots.
Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson have some tough discussions to have over their celebratory drinks this week. Neither course would surprise me, and at this point there is no reason to disagree with whatever decision Roseman makes. The Eagles roster is extremely talented but there are some obvious holes as well that they could fill with a Nick Foles trade. The job is never done, not even after you win the Super Bowl.
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