PHILADELPHIA — Nick Foles is used to uncertainty. It’s kind of his thing.
He’s gone from starter to backup, from nearly retired to Super Bowl MVP. He thought his playing days in Philly were over, only to regain the reins last week when a stress fracture was found in Carson Wentz‘s back.
It’s only fitting that Foles will head into this offseason with more questions than answers. Will the Eagles exercise their 2019 option to try to keep him in Philly? Will he end up in a different city? Will he become a team’s long-term option? A stopgap? Something in between?
Foles does have some control over the situation, including whether he goes into the offseason as a hot commodity by virtue of his play down the stretch. Other elements are out of his hands.
Here’s a look at the different variables at play and what the future may hold for Foles:
There is a mutual option for 2019 in Foles’ deal. The ball falls in the Eagles’ court first. They have the right to extend Foles’ contract through 2019 at the price of $20 million, which would become fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the league year. If they choose to exercise that option, Foles has about a week to decide whether he wants to take that payday and remain in Philly next season or void the contract. If he opts to void the contract, Foles would have to give the Eagles $2 million, effectively buying his way into free agency.
The Eagles could…
1. Not exercise the option and let Foles walk
2. Exercise the option and try to trade Foles
3. Exercise the option with the intent to keep him
4. Decline the option and place the franchise tag on Foles, potentially with the intent to trade him
Most likely outcome
From a cap perspective, it would be very difficult for the Eagles to carry Foles as a backup at the price tag of $20 million, especially with Wentz, their franchise QB, due for a massive pay day before long. Recent injuries aside, Wentz is still viewed as the guy in Philly. Foles will be looking to run his own show starting next year, making it unlikely that he would co-sign the option unless he anticipated a dry market.
Trying to trade Foles after triggering the option would be tricky because Foles’ side has the ability to void the contract. It’s unlikely a team would deal for him unless it had a guarantee that it could get a new, longer-term deal done.
All things considered, the most likely scenario appears to be that the Eagles will decline to use the option, allowing Foles to hit free agency.
Here are some teams that could be interested in acquiring a QB this offseason:
Tampa Bay Bucs
And here are some QBs who could also be available:
Some QB-curious teams could end up sticking with their current guy; others could add via the draft. But looking at the current potential suitors versus the list of options, it seems like a good bet Foles will find a home. The lack of ego he’s shown in the past year, in particular, will help in that effort as teams hope to build a high-quality quarterback room.
“You name me the starter, you name me the backup, you name me the third-string — if I’m playing this game, it’s not going to affect who I am as a person or my mentality when I step on the field,” Foles said this week of his approach. “If it does, then I probably have some personal things I need to work on.”
It’s really a matter of whether Foles is viewed as “the guy,” a bridge QB or a high-end backup. That will determine what type of deal he gets. Opinions will vary from team to team.
Bucs coach Dirk Koetter, as an example, is a big Foles fan. He recruited him coming out of high school while the head coach at Arizona State and tried to sign him with Tampa Bay before the 2017 season. Foles was between the Eagles and Bucs, and fatefully chose Philly. If Koetter is kept as head coach in Tampa, or lands an offensive coordinator gig for a team in need of a QB, perhaps Foles gets a sweet deal.
Depending on how it shakes out, Foles could end up with a contract similar to that of Case Keenum ($18 million per season). If he’s viewed as a longer-term guy, the number could end up somewhere between there and the deal Kirk Cousins got ($28 million per season).
A final showcase
Foles has the opportunity to influence potential suitors one last time. With Wentz dealing with a stress fracture in his back, there’s a good chance Foles will be at the controls for the last two regular-season games and potentially into the playoffs if the Eagles make it.
There’s a good amount of buzz around him after he led his team to an upset win over the Los Angeles Rams last week. If he can keep that buzz going into the offseason, his odds of landing a starring gig elsewhere will increase.