The assumption is Nick Foles will make himself a lot of money this offseason. The hope is that the Eagles will get a little something for themselves along the way. I’m not sure either one is as likely as the conventional wisdom suggests.
While there is little reason to doubt that Foles will end up somewhere that offers him a clearer path to a starting job than the Eagles can offer him, there are plenty of reasons to think that his next contract will be more Case Keenum than Kirk Cousins. And even if Howie Roseman is somehow able to arrange a trade, there is almost no reason to think that the return will be anything greater than a highly conditional or late-round draft pick.
This is about supply and demand, particularly the second half of that equation. In short, there might not be much of it this offseason. That’s a market thing, not a Foles thing. Foles has done his part. However you feel about the transmutability of his skill set, the facts are the facts, and they say here that he has won eight of his last 10 games, one of them a Super Bowl, while completing 70 percent of his passes and averaging 285 yards per start. Somewhere in the NFL, there is a place for that.
Problem is, any sober projection of the upcoming labor market should project that there are likely to be, at most, four teams even considering the thought of investing significant resources in a veteran starting quarterback. Which means that it won’t take much competition on the supply side of the equation to drive down prices for all involved, whether we’re talking the trade or free-agent market. And, as it turns out, those few teams who could be looking for quarterbacks will likely have at least three other viable options beyond Foles.
Don’t take my word for it. Let’s talk it through. ...
The biggest demand-side variable is the current glut of young quarterbacks entrenched under center across the league. More than a third of the league’s 32 teams will enter 2019 with a starter drafted in the last three years. Of those 11 quarterbacks, 10 were drafted in the first round, the lone exception being the Cowboys' Dak Prescott. None of those players are going anywhere, Carson Wentz included.
That’s not necessarily a reflection of the staying power of those quarterbacks. Speaking for one self-professed QB snob, I see amongst that group only three clear-cut, franchise-caliber, perennial Top 10 types: Wentz, Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) and Baker Mayfield (Browns). Jared Goff (Rams) and DeShaun Watson (Texans) can both succeed in the right systems, and both have, to varying degrees. Prescott should be just good enough to keep the Cowboys mired in mediocrity for the next decade. Otherwise, if your team is hitching its wagon to Josh Rosen (Cardinals), Sam Darnold (Jets), Josh Allen (Bills), Lamar Jackson (Ravens) or even Mitchell Q. Trubisky (Bears), I wish you the best of luck.
But as far as our present topic is concerned, that’s 11 teams that will not be slinging high draft picks or big dollars for a veteran starter like Foles.
Forget about the Vikings (12), and 49ers (13), both of whom invested huge money in the position last offseason (Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo) and are pot committed for the time being. Also, these nine: the Saints (Drew Brees), Chargers (Phillip Rivers), Patriots (Tom Brady), Colts (Andrew Luck), Seahawks (Russell Wilson), Falcons (Matt Ryan), Panthers (Cam Newton), Packers (Aaron Rodgers), Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger).
That brings us to 22.
It wouldn’t make much sense for either the Titans (23, Marcus Mariota) or the Bucs (24, Jameis Winston) to give up on their 2015 first rounders in exchange for a similar amount of certainty in Foles. As for the Lions (25, Matt Stafford), Dolphins (26, Ryan Tannehill), Bengals (27, Andy Dalton) and/or Raiders (28, Derek Carr), maybe you can envision a scenario in which they decide to move on, but that would only add another competent veteran to the market.
Which leaves us with only four teams who fit the profile for Foles' services. Two of those teams, the Giants and Broncos, are in clear rebuilding mode, making it unlikely that they would decide to part with a Top 75 pick for a quarterback who already has struggled through one unsuccessful stint with a lousy team. As for free agency, the Giants seem resigned to making it work with Eli Manning until the kids go off to college. John Elway was slightly less charitable recently when asked about Case Keenum, labeling the journeyman a “short-term fix” (and one can certainly quibble with his definition of the word “fix”).
The two teams that make the most sense, the Jaguars and Redskins, both have coaches on the hot seat and playoff aspirations, a combination which tends to spur action. But both will still be paying big money to the ghosts of quarterbacks past (despite Alex Smith’s career-threatening injury, the Redskins are on the hook for $20 plus million in each of the next two seasons, while Blake Bortles will still count $16.5 million against the Jaguars cap even if released, at a savings of just $4.5 million). That Jacksonville recently hired Foles' former quarterbacks coach, John DiFilippo, as offensive coordinator is worth noting.
Yet it is also worth noting that the supply side of the market will also feature where free agents like Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and trade candidate Joe Flacco the latter of whom who would seemingly check off a lot of the same boxes for any team considering Foles.
The only thing that’s clear is Foles will not be back here. After Sunday’s loss to the Saints, the space between the lines he spoke was big enough to fit Tim Jernigan.
“I’m not going to speculate on that, but I love leading a team,” Foles said. “I love being in the huddle, being part of a locker room."