Foles Expected to Land in Jacksonville
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Sometimes common sense does pan out.
Turns out the market for Nick Foles isn't going to be nearly as competitive as some may have expected and the former Super Bowl MVP is likely to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars, once the new league year opens on March 13.
Rumors of a potential sign-and-trade deal by the Eagles were always pie-in-the-sky as 973espn.com has consistently pointed out the significant hurdles after the Philadelphia brass tried to float the idea to the national media.
In fact it was so clear that no one around the NFL was interested in paying Foles just under $25 million while also sending draft capital the Eagles' way that Howie Roseman didn't even bother playing poker in Indianapolis and folded his hand at the start of the NFL Scouting Combine last week informing everyone that the Eagles would allow Foles to hit free agency.
"We've been so fortunate the over the last couple of years to have to have two top 15 quarterbacks in Carson (Wentz) and Nick," Roseman said. "We've spent a lot of time discussing this internally and with him and we have decided to let Nick become a free-agent."
The Foles machinations began last month when the Eagles informed the veteran quarterback they would be picking up their side of a $20 million mutual option. Foles and his camp technically had five days to volley back but needed just hours as they informed the Birds that Foles would indeed by paying back $2M to the organization to gain a path toward unrestricted free agency.
As expected the franchise number was just under $25M and a trade would have to come after Foles signed the tag meaning Philadelphia would have had to be very sure of a potential deal because once Foles put pen to paper on a potential tag, all of that money would have been guaranteed.
The large number for one season must have also fit under the top-51 salary-cap rule in the offseason for the Eagles before a deal could be made and would have also affected trade value and lessened any potential compensation coming back, although an NFL source told 973espn.com ultimately Philadelphia's biggest goal was steering Foles away from the NFC East where both the New York Giants and Washington Redskins could be in the market.
Foles is now free to go anywhere but Giants coach Pat Shurmur and GM Dave Gettleman spoke before Roseman in Indy and both gave votes of confidence to embattled veteran Eli Manning while Washington would prefer to go in a different direction, indicating a happiness with Colt McCoy and perhaps the ability to land a cheaper secondary option while waiting on Alex Smith's future.
The good news is that the Eagles are getting what they wanted, Foles outside the conference in Jacksonville where a reunion with John DeFilippo, his former QB coach in Philadelphia and now the OC with Jaguars, makes sense.
Depending on the size of the contract Foles ultimately signs and what the Eagles do in free agency, Philadelphia would be in line for a 2020 compensatory pick for losing Foles.
Around the NFL, a few sources pointed to Case Keenum's contract signed last year with Denver as a potential template for Foles, at least when it comes to annual value. Keenum signed a two-year, $36M deal with $25M of that guaranteed.
“We’ve had incredible success with him when he’s had to play," Roseman said of Foles. "Four playoff wins over the last two years, great teammate... But at the same time, he deserves an opportunity to lead a team. It’s a goal of his to lead another team and lead another locker room."
Technically, teams are not allowed to talk deals with free agents until the oxymoron of the legal-tampering period begins on March 11, and no contract can be signed until March 13.
As for the Eagles they now need a backup QB and Nate Sudfeld, a restricted free agent expected to be tendered at a second-round level, is expected to compete for the job but Roseman and Doug Pederson was clear that there will be competition.
"We're going to explore every option to improve our football team," Roseman said. "We have a lot of confidence in Nate. he's had every opportunity to learn from two of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League. This is a really big opportunity for him and a big year for him."
One of the veterans expected to be available is the Jaguars' Blake Bortles once Foles officially signs on the First Coast.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen