We can certainly debate—with reasonable points on either side—whether or not Philadelphia should trade Nick Foles. Those who want to keep Foles cite Carson Wentz’s progressing recovery from his ACL tear and uncertain status for Week 1 of 2018. They also consider Foles’ unprecedented success as a Philadelphia quarterback—he finally brought Lombardi home—and what he now means to this franchise.
Others—and I am unabashedly in this camp—value the benefits on Philadelphia’s tight cap and the potential draft capital gained. Currently ~$10M over the cap for 2018 and without a 2nd and 3rd round selection in the Draft, Philadelphia must make roster moves. This seems like a no-brainer: shed money, gain draft picks, without losing a starter.
Either way, the primary determinant in Nick Foles’ future is, and should be, Nick himself. A free agent after 2018, Foles inevitably must decide if he’d rather stay in Philadelphia as a backup for the rest of his career, or chase a bigger contract and a starting job elsewhere. If he’s interested in another crack at a starting gig, he will be open to a trade in 2017—his stock simply cannot be higher than it is right now.
But even if Foles decides to resist a trade, QB-needy front offices are undoubtedly synthesizing trade packages as we speak, should Foles hit the market. I’d like to identify for you five teams who may make the move for Foles, a reasonable offer they could put together, and how Philadelphia might respond.
The Cardinals are in a place of supreme flux. Every single rostered QB is a free agent—but it gets worse! Those rostered QBs are Blaine Gabbert, Drew Stanton, and Matt Barkley.
Arizona (drafting at 15 overall) will not be in striking distance of the top names at quarterback. Drafting a rougher guy to develop and bringing on a veteran bridge is a potential option, but I’d shy from that: the Cardinals’ QB coach, Byron Leftwich, is only in his second year of coaching football at any level. How certain are you he can develop a young player at such a volatile position?
As such, unless Arizona wants to put together a big enough package to move up for a top rookie, they’ll be looking to acquire a veteran with long-term starting potential—and he has to be more than just a game manager. New offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is a good offensive mind, but his schemes spluttered under guys like Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler in Denver.
Foles (just turned 29) has been tethered to Arizona since the end of his high school career. He was originally committed to play for Arizona State before switching to Michigan State and, eventually, transferring to the University of Arizona. Likely looking for a comfortable, familiar situation given his dance with retirement, The Grand Canyon State (bad nickname) could prove a welcoming option.
Arizona has the pick at 15—but that’s likely too pretty a penny for Foles. first-round picks have only been involved in QB trades twice in the past ten years: Carson Palmer and Sam Bradford. Both were viewed as marked overpayments at the time, and what do both Palmer and Bradford have that Foles doesn’t? High draft pedigree (both 1st overall), which the NFL continues to overvalue regardless of on-field performance.
As such, Arizona would likely offer their 2nd-rounder (47 overall) as well as an extra sweetener (think 143 overall, in the fifth round). It’s an honest offer, but Philadelphia’s going to try to do better than that.
Offer: Arizona’s 2018 second round selection (47 overall) and 2018 fifth round selection (143 overall) for QB Nick Foles
Interest Level: 4/10
Foles to Buffalo has some decent run to it. Philadelphia and Buffalo have hit the trade market together recently, and guys who once played with a very successful Nick Foles—RB LeSean McCoy and WR Jordan Matthews—will likely clamor for Foles in the locker room. Sean McDermott, head coach of Buffalo, has connection to Jeffrey Lurie, Howie Roseman, and Andy Reid—all key figures in Foles’ development as a pro. And hey! Foles just slew the Godfather of the AFC East on national television—that meant a little extra something to the Bills, Dolphins, and Jets.
Buffalo boasts two first rounders (21st and 22nd overall) and two second rounders (53rd and 56th overall) following the Patrick Mahomes II and Sammy Watkins trades, respectively. As such, they have the firepower to move up into the Top 5 and snag a young QB, if they fall for one.
But this roster has holes—a shocking number for a playoff team. Upgrades at wide receiver, defensive tackle, linebacker, center, and cornerback would all be welcome. Without much cap room to bring in key free agents, Buffalo may look to use their five Top-100 to infuse this roster with some much needed talent, instead of introducing a young QB to a shaky roster.
Because of their cap situation, Buffalo may move on from much-maligned starter QB Tyrod Taylor this offseason, saving $9.5M against the cap while killing $8.6M. If they’re looking for a “bridge” guy behind which to develop a raw rookie, then keeping Tyrod even at his steep price for the final year on his deal makes more sense. If they’re looking for a plug-and-play veteran starter, then they’ll certainly investigate Nick Foles.
With their many selections, Buffalo could very well put one of their firsts on the table for Foles—and Philadelphia would snap that up in a heartbeat. Were the Bills willing to take that gamble, they’d likely look for something in return. Already in possession of Philadelphia’s 2018 3rd round selection, they may look for Philly’s 2019 3rd in recompense. I think that’s a square deal that Philadelphia would love, especially if they can attach some playing time/roster conditions to potentially change the 2019 pick.
Offer: Buffalo’s 2018 first round selection (22 overall (from Kansas City)) for QB Nick Foles; Philadelphia’s 2019 third round selection.*
*should Buffalo decide against moving one of the firsts, they’ll likely package a 2nd and their 3rd, which is the last pick in the 3rd round that they got from Philadelphia in the Jordan Matthews/Ronald Darby trade. That’s better than Arizona, but not thrilling. 6/10.
After beating the Vikings soundly in the NFC Championship Game, could Foles really end up in Minneapolis? Will the Vikings willingly trade for an Eagles QB after the last go-’round (Sam Bradford) never worked out? Doesn’t Minnesota have enough QBs?
There are more than a few roadblocks in the way for this trade to come through—but there’s a big ace in the hole for Minnesota: John DeFilippo.
Listen, the Vikings’ new offensive coordinator—known as a QB whisperer—sussed out the best goshdarn Nick Foles play we’ve ever seen. Foles out-dueled Brady, for goodness’ sake! John DeFilippo can undoubtedly, indubitably, run a great offense with Nick Foles at the helm.
Can’t say the same for Sam Bradford, Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, Kirk Cousins—nobody.
A few clouds gotta come together nicely for this perfect storm: Minnesota must be in a “win-now” mode, looking to plug in a QB and get back to the NFCCG instead of developing a rookie. Minnesota must struggle with Case Keenum’s price tag (you willing to transition tag him for $20M?) and Teddy Bridgewater’s deal (you gonna pay him like the starter he thinks he is?). Minnesota must remain unsure of Keenum and Bridgewater as long-term starters, while also being convinced by DeFilippo that Foles can be a long-term starter.
That last one is, without question, the toughest of the three. The primary decision-makers for Minnesota have never seen Foles in the building, while they’ve seen Keenum and drafted Teddy. As such, any offer Minnesota would make for Foles would be risk-averse—they have no reason to hand him the keys before their other potential signal-callers. This one all depends on if/to what degree DeFilippo stans for Saint Nick.
Offer: Minnesota’s 2018 third round selection and 2019 fourth round selection for QB Nick Foles
Interest: 3/10 (don’t help rivals if you can avoid it)
4) Miami Dolphins
We don’t talk about the Dolphins enough as a potential QB-needy team. Yeah, they’ve got Ryan Tannehill rostered—and I’ve always been a Tannehill guy. But he’s only a Top 15 - 20 QB in this league when healthy, and he’s not healthy. It’s widely believed that his left ACL (now torn twice) is simply unstable, and that Tannehill cannot be considered a 16-game player long-term.
Turn to the contract, and you see that Miami could move on from Tannehill (and his $19.8M cap number) with only $4.6M in dead space accrued. If Tannehill isn’t the big picture guy, then I’d be mighty tempted to capitalize on a historic QB class (between free agency and the Draft) to bring in a guy with a brighter outlook.
Currently stationed at 11 overall in the first, Miami is in striking distance for their guy, if they want a top rookie. They’d likely have to move at least what they’d offer for Foles to get there—and then spend the first round pick on him. Considering Philadelphia and Miami’s trading history, however, I’d imagine they test the waters for Foles even if they are considering moving up for a first-year signal caller. (Don’t forget the AFC East effect we mentioned with Buffalo.)
If they have their rookie in striking distance, they’ll go get him and his cheap, four-year contract—but teams like Buffalo and Arizona also posturing to move up could make the price too steep, especially when you run the risk of Cleveland or New York (Giants) snagging your target. If they’re looking for a Josh Allen bridge, the Dolphins will likely keep Tannehill around just to cut him later—so Foles would have to come in as the starter.
As such, Miami would make a very Arizona-esque offer. Unlike Arizona, they have a fourth to package with their second-rounder, which may improve the deal a touch. This is another good, but not overwhelming deal.
Offer: Miami’s 2018 second round selection (42 overall) and fourth round selection (107 overall) for QB Nick Foles
No way we could talk about this without mentioning Cleveland, huh?
Unlike the other teams listed, you have to imagine Cleveland would bring Nick Foles in as a bridge QB—a productive veteran, relatively cheap for 2018, to help them develop second-year pro DeShone Kizer and rookie QB Sam Darno—I mean, whichever rookie QB they end up taking with #1 overall.
But it makes sense: after going 0-16, Cleveland desperately needs a guy who can power their team for four quarters—Cleveland was dreadful to end games in 2017—and at least get a couple of W’s on the board. After hitting the free agent market hard in 2018, Cleveland can also recoup a solid compensatory selection when Foles walks in 2019.
Now with Football Guys™ in the front office, Cleveland will take significant strides to get the QB position right—and why shouldn’t they? There is promise at TE, RB, WR, and on the OL—and that defense has some excellent pieces as well. Cleveland has four Top-35 picks and seven Top-100 picks, and while they certainly could spend all but one of those on the other 21 guys, I don’t think drafting a QB with #1 overall and packaging some other selections for a solid veteran is unreasonable at all. It’s time to break the curse with sheer force.
Foles is still a “bridge,” so Cleveland won’t go hog-wild. With three second-rounders (including Philadelphia’s, at 64 overall), they could package 35 and 64 overall without much worry, as they still have 65 overall sitting pretty at the top of the third. With an extra fourth and extra fifth in their back pocket, Cleveland can move back up into the second after the trade, if they see value there. Remember, the Browns don’t need a quantity of picks—they have so many young players already under contract—but rather high-quality players, as they look to turn the corner on their rebuild.
The Browns will likely try to send 35 and 97, or 64 and 65 packaged together, both of which should interest Philadelphia as well—but I think Roseman would fight for the 35/64 combo. Throw in a playing-time conditional Day 3 pick for good measure.
Offer: Cleveland’s 2018 second round selection (35 overall (from Houston)) and second round selection (64 overall (from Philadelphia)) for QB Nick Foles, Philadelphia’s 2019 sixth round selection (conditionally).
Almost every deal included here had at its core a second-round selection—I think that’s going to be the primary asking price for Nick Foles. A first is a little too rich for a guy at 29.
Now, I’ve typically packaged Day 3 picks with these second-rounders—I anticipate those sweeteners to accompany the second round selections as a result of a competitive trade market. Some may say that Jimmy Garappolo was traded for a second alone, and that Nick Foles can’t be worth more than Jimmy Garappolo. I believe Nick Foles will have a better trade market than Garappolo, who had far less starting experience, and was shrouded in uncertainty up in New England. Super Bowl MVP certainly helps young Nicholas as well.
That being said, I think Philadelphia should jump at any offer for Nick Foles that includes a second round selection—while, of course, first checking to see what better deals could possibly be drummed up. The backup quarterback position is a valuable one, but with a thick and talented QB class hitting the open market, veteran backups will be a dime a dozen for a Super Bowl winning team like Philly. Howie Roseman is a wheeler and dealer—it would be against his nature to leave the iron hot and unstruck.
Philadelphia will forever owe and honor Nick Foles—I don’t care where he ends up, I’d root for him no matter what. If he wants to stay in Philadelphia, keep him here forever and erect statues of him on every street corner. Name a sandwich after him, make him part-owner of the Philadelphia Soul, and mandate that everyone within city limits wear those weird, transparent-frame glasses. But if he’s willing to move, these are the deals I’d envision get some play on the trading floor.