Examining a Potential Nick Foles Return
(973espn.com) - At this point, it's almost like Jeffrey Lurie is pretending he is Pam Ewing waking up to find that one awful season of "Dallas" was really just a dream.
Forgive the 1980s television reference but it seems like the Eagles owner is intent of pressing rewind in an attempt to undo just about everything Chip Kelly did during his disastrous year in charge of the team's football operations.
The first and most substantive move by Lurie was to go to back to his trusted confidant in Howie Roseman and now the team is reportedly considering another old friend in quarterback Nick Foles as well, at least according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
It's unlikely the Eagles will place the franchise tag on potential free agent quarterback Sam Bradford and with a price tag that could reach over $20 million, an NFL source confirmed to 973espn.com that Philadelphia is leaning toward parting ways with the veteran, something Doug Pederson hinted at when discussing the potential of his team with CSNPhilly.
"I think the pieces are there," the new coach said. "Great talent on defense. The strength probably on this team is the defensive line, linebackers, tremendous talent there. I think the skill guys are as good, if not better than most of the National Football League, and there’s guys there who have made a lot of plays, young guys, that have made some great plays for this organization. Re-signing a guy like Zach Ertz, I was excited to get him and Brent Celek both wrapped up, Lane Johnson wrapped up.
"And then you start just kinda filling in. A hole here, a hole there, get some depth here, you know, get you a young quarterback possibly, and then you just start developing your talent and you see what happens after that."
It might have been a throwaway line but the "young quarterback" quip caught the ears of many who believe Pederson wants to recreate 1999 when Andy Reid brought him along from Green Bay to mentor Donovan McNabb.
Some have speculated the bridge QB in that 2016 scenario would be Chase Daniel coming from the Chiefs and others are also in play and Pederson would certainly be very comfortable with Foles.
The coach was a big Foles supporter in '12 when he lobbied the Eagles to draft the signal caller in the third round. Meanwhile, it's extremely unlikely Roseman would have made the trade Kelly did last season, sending Foles and his manageable salary, along with a second-round pick, to St. Louis for Bradford and a bloated $13-plus million cap figure.
However, since that time the Rams extended Foles and he played very poorly, eventually being benched for the nondescript Case Keenum.
The now Los Angeles-based Rams certainly aren't moving forward with Foles in their plans but the 6-foot-6 Arizona product has a $6 million roster bonus which is already fully guaranteed and a $1.75 million base salary that would also be guaranteed on March 11. If LA releases or trades him, it will suffer an $8 million cap hit next season.
A cursory move, say for a conditional seventh-round pick is an option, but Philadelphia would then have to be comfortable with that $8 million hit next season as well, a year after Foles crashed and burned with just a 56.4 completion percentage with seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News downplayed the report, however, claiming the cap numbers wouldn't work from the Rams perspective.
NLFPA figures say after the $8 million in '16, Foles is only due another $1 million from the Rams in '17 because his $10.75 million base salary can be voided based on performance.
While it's never good to carry that much dead money on the cap, it's conceivable that Rams come to the conclusion that because Foles isn't in their plans, it's better to have an extra asset because the money is dead wither way, just the definition changes.
In other words, Foles counts $8 million against the cap and takes up a roster spot with LA having no plans to use him or he takes up the same amount and the team gets something for him.
For comparison's sake the Rams carried $11.5 million of dead-cap space last season with $3.6 coming from Bradford. If a similar pattern develops in '16 LA's dead-cap allocation minus Foles would jump to about $16 million, again not the best-case scenario for the team but far more manageable than advertised.
From the Eagles standpoint and a pure football perspective, Pederson would feel much more comfortable with Foles as his starting quarterback than Bradford, and he'd also be saving the organization well over $10 million by advocating that direction.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @JFMcMullen.