Good morning. The Eagles are no longer defending Super Bowl champions after the Patriots won Sunday, and there’s news with the Eagles' Super Bowl MVP and the quarterback they hope leads them to the next one.

This is a Wednesday edition of the Early Birds newsletter, which will come once a week during the offseason. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @ZBerm. Thank you for reading.

— Zach Berman

The Eagles offense, including quarterback Carson Wentz (11), running sprints after a practice.
The Eagles offense, including quarterback Carson Wentz (11), running sprints after a practice.

Carson Wentz on his explosiveness in 2017 vs. 2018

Much of the attention about Carson Wentz’s comments in a wide-ranging interview last week focused on his personality and locker-room relationships after a challenging year for Wentz, although Wentz was also honest about his 2018 performance.

Throughout the season, Wentz’s public comments often made it sound like there were no problems coming back from the knee injury and there weren’t any limitations. Wentz did not use the knee injury as an excuse, but he conceded last week that he did not have the same explosiveness that he had in 2017.

“As far as being explosive and all those things … and I’m not going to use it as an excuse by any means, but I watched the tape from two years ago, you watch last year, you can say I wasn’t quite there as far as mobility stuff,” Wentz said. “And that’s something I’ll keep working through. And everyone kind of says it’s an 18-month, two-year thing to get really feeling strong again and back to normal. It’s getting better. It’s going to keep getting better. And I don’t think we’ll worry about hopefully either of these injuries going forward.”

I wrote a story in December that looked at the decline in Wentz’s running production. When I reported the story, Doug Pederson said Wentz had fewer opportunities to extend plays than in 2017, and quarterbacks coach Press Taylor said Wentz’s understanding of the offense allowed him to go through his progressions sooner than tuck the ball away.

An issue, though, was that Wentz wasn’t as explosive. The numbers indicated a difference. Wentz averaged 15.5 rushing yards per game during his first two seasons (and more than one first down per game). Last season, Wentz averaged 8.5 rushing yards and fewer than one first down per game. So what Wentz saw on tape is supported by the statistics. If Wentz’s explosiveness returns in 2019, it will make a major difference in his overall game.

What’s happening with Nick Foles?

The Nick Foles news came Tuesday night. The Eagles notified Foles that they will exercise his $20 million option, and Foles notified the team that he’s voiding the contract by paying the team by $2 million.

So what does this mean? Foles is due to become a free agent on March 13, when he can sign elsewhere and the Eagles could potentially get back a compensatory pick in 2020. Or the Eagles could designate Foles with the franchise tag between Feb. 19 and March 5 and try to trade him.

That’s the only way the Eagles could trade him, although the franchise tag would take up a significant portion of the Eagles’ salary-cap space, and the Eagles must be cap compliant by March 13. So that would be difficult to pull off. Plus, Foles could sign the franchise tag and the hefty price becomes guaranteed. My guess is the Eagles don’t end up using the tag, but they’ll try to see what’s available.

Foles wanted to be a free agent all along. My read on the swiftness of Foles’ voiding the deal was that he’s optimistic about the market in March and was not interested in the trade route.

The Eagles will most likely get a third-round compensatory pick, assuming Foles signs a big deal elsewhere. The only way this would not happen is if the Eagles are active in free agency with high-priced players whose deals are expiring. (If the Eagles signed a player who is cut, it does not count against the compensatory pick formula.) It’s not out of the question that the Eagles are big spenders, but my guess is the Eagles get the 2020 compensatory pick.

A coaching staff update

Former Eagles practice-squad quarterback G.J. Kinne will be an offensive assistant for the Eagles, according to The Athletic.

Kinne has been with the team since December. I first saw him in the press box with team officials during the Week 15 game against the Los Angeles Rams, and he was around the team through the postseason run. There was no official role for him at the time. Kinne was an analyst and assistant quarterbacks coach at Arkansas last season. He played for the Eagles as a quarterback and wide receiver from 2013 through 2015.

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) jogging off the field after the playoff loss to New Orleans last month.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) jogging off the field after the playoff loss to New Orleans last month.

What you need to know about the Eagles

From the Mailbag

The difference is a pick this year compared to a pick next year, and the certainty of the pick. If the Eagles worked out a trade with Foles, it would likely be for a 2019 draft pick, so it could factor into their immediate plans. A compensatory pick would not come until 2020, and as I noted above, it’s not a certainty unless the Eagles don’t spend in free agency.

But a team would be compelled to trade for Foles only if it didn’t think he would hit the open market or if it didn’t think he would sign with the team on the open market. Another team would much prefer to sign Foles without needing to surrender compensation in a trade, and that’s ultimately what I anticipate happening.