(973espn.com) - The Eagles have until Feb. 10 to exercise their part of a $20 million mutual option with quarterback Nick Foles and that decision has already been made, according to the NFL Network.

When the shoe actually drops, however, Foles will have five days to essentially buy his free agency for only $2 million.

The Eagles bought low when they brought Foles back to the organization as the veteran backup to Carson Wentz before the 2017 season but selling high would have required peddling Foles to the highest bidder after he played Mariano Rivera and closed the franchise's first Super Bowl championship last February in Minneapolis.

That "easy" decision was complicated by both emotion and Wentz's health after coming off ACL and LCL surgery so instead of garnering extra draft capital Philadelphia kicked this can down the road.

By the time Wentz was cleared in Week 3 back in September, it seemed as if Foles' value regressed to the mean after two so-so performances against Atlanta and Tampa Bay. However, when Foles was needed again late after Wentz's back injury he performed another miracle, leading the Eagles to three straight regular-season wins and a playoff upset in Chicago before people finally bowing out in New Orleans during the divisional round.

Even though Foles couldn't finish the deal this time around the perception is that his value is back and Howie Roseman should use what leverage he does have to gain significant assets in return for Foles.

The problem comes is that leverage is usually overstated.

Because Foles is likely to garner more than $20M guaranteed on a multi-year deal in free agency, and $2M is better than nothing from a financial perspective most expected Philadelphia to exercise the option and Foles to buy his way out.

The romantic in Philadelphia believe that Foles might be willing to stay for $20M because he likes the city and organization but those observers are ignoring the Eagles' latest pledge to Wentz, along with Foles' own words of wanting to lead a team. More so, by kicking a different can down the road on a potential Wentz extension and paying Foles significantly more than the man he would be backing up for one more year is asking for trouble.

The even more naive believe Foles may accept the option in order to facilitate a trade and help the Eagles but that means eschewing more money and stability and giving a completely new organization the ability to look at him in its offense for a year without any real assurances, simply not tenable from any player's perspective.

Once these initial machinations are out of the way the Eagles could theoretically put the franchise or even transition tag on Foles, the latter would be meaningless, however, because it only offers you the ability to match any offer and the Eagles aren't interested in that. The franchise tag would require the Eagles to essentially guarantee Foles around $25 million and would actually serve as a signal to any potential suitors to play hardball.

After all Foles would have to sign the tender to be traded, again giving him only one guaranteed year in a new city while the other organization would have to accept a massive salary-cap hit for 2019 while in theory also sending a significant asset or assets back to Philadelphia for the right to do that.

Despite that Adam Schefter went further and claimed that the Eagles are going to place the franchise tag on Foles in hopes of generating a deal for a third-round pick, curious because if Foles just left in free agency the likely end game for the Eagles would be a third-round compensatory pick in 2020, although other signings in free agency could impact that.

According to one NFL agent on the ground in Atlanta, the goal is a simple one -- to direct Foles out of the NFC East, which has two teams, New York and Washington, which could be in the market for a QB.

"My guess is they are trying to steer him out of the division," the agent told 973espn.com.

-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen


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