ORLANDO — Nick Foles is still on the Eagles, but to hear top executive Howie Roseman explain it, that’s not due to a lack of interest elsewhere.
Rather, the Eagles set a high price for any team that wanted to acquire the Super Bowl MVP, who will become the NFL’s most-accomplished backup quarterback whenever Carson Wentz returns to the field from a knee injury. Without a team offering enough to the Eagles this month, Foles stayed in Philadelphia.
“We know what we have. And that allows us the ability to feel very good about the most important position in sports,” Roseman said Monday at the NFL annual meetings. “For us to get rid of something like that, that’s going to be a high price tag.”
Remember when Chip Kelly couldn’t land Marcus Mariota in 2015 and said it was like looking at a house that was out of the team’s price range? That same analogy could be applied to any interested suitor for Foles — not that Roseman would name the teams or the Eagles’ price. He said that “when you talk about certain rounds, there’s a percentage of hitting on guys,” suggesting the Eagles weren’t going to budge for a lower-percentage pick.
Roseman confirmed there was interest in Foles during an offseason full of musical chairs at quarterback. Minnesota signed Kirk Cousins and watched Case Keenum sign with Denver and Sam Bradford sign with Arizona. Buffalo traded Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland, signed Cincinnati backup A.J. McCarron, and is expected to draft a quarterback next month. The Browns are expected to draft a quarterback to pair with Taylor, too. The New York Jets kept Josh McCown, signed Teddy Bridgewater, and moved up in the draft to take a top passer. Washington replaced Cousins with Alex Smith, who was acquired from Kansas City, which will turn to 2016 first-round pick Pat Mahomes.
No teams traded a first- or second-round pick for a veteran quarterback, although they were willing to spend big money on the free-agent market. Cousins signed a three-year, $84 million guaranteed contract, Keenum inked a two-year, $36 million deal, and Bradford received $20 million to quarterback the Cardinals next season. Bradford’s deal seemed to close the door on the most sensible destination for Foles.
“He’s still on the team because he’s an incredibly valuable player for the Philadelphia Eagles,” Roseman said. “When you talk about the position and what’s gone on, you’ve seen the free-agent market and the trade market. We’re in the business of making sure we get the right value for the player. And what our value is for the player is going to stick. …We feel very confident [about] what his value is to our football team and, really, throughout the rest of the league. There was obviously interest in Nick Foles because Nick Foles has been tremendously productive in a Philadelphia Eagles uniform.”
One of the questions that has loomed since Foles’ storybook ride to the Super Bowl was whether the Eagles would even consider trading him at all. Wentz injured his knee in December, and although the team believes Wentz’s recovery is ahead of schedule, the notion that he’ll play opening night is more speculation than certainty at this point. Foles, if nothing else, is a valuable insurance policy at a position that requires reliable insurance. He might need to start the season or relieve Wentz if there’s another injury.
The other side of the argument would point out that Foles is entering the final year of his contract and was inconsistent before a magical month. The Eagles, who are already in need of draft capital, could have replenished their inventory with a player whose value would seemingly never be higher.
There’s also the consideration of what Foles wants. At the scouting combine, Roseman and coach Doug Pederson said they would have that conversation with Foles’ camp. Foles, who has been publicly mum on the topic, knows that the Eagles don’t offer a long-term path to a starting job or even a starting quarterback’s contract. Roseman would not answer whether Foles asked the team for a chance to start elsewhere.
“We don’t talk about our conversations with our players,” Roseman said. “I’m not saying yes or no. That’s always going to be my answer.”
But it didn’t sound as though the Eagles hung up whenever calls were made about Foles. Roseman also knows it’s only March. There’s much that can happen between now and the season opener. The draft might not fall the way another team wants. A starter could get injured in training camp. The Eagles found a first-round pick for Bradford one week before the 2016 season because of Bridgewater’s injury. If a team is interested enough to give the Eagles the value they desire, then Foles could play elsewhere.
“I’d say that’s a possibility with anyone,” Roseman said. “We’re going to do what’s in the best interest of the Eagles. I don’t want this to be about just Nick. Anything that can make us better at any time of the year we have to to look at.”