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Report: Eagles might be able to trade Nick Foles without having to use the franchise tag

This would be ideal.

NFL: NFC Divisional Playoff-Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

It’ll be very interesting to see what the Philadelphia Eagles decide to do with Nick Foles this offseason.

The common belief is that the team will exercise his $20 million option for the 2019 NFL season. It seems likely that Foles will then opt out of his contract by paying $2 million back to the Eagles in an attempt to enter free agency. The Eagles could then try to franchise tag Foles in order to trade him ... but what if it doesn’t come to that? What if the Eagles could try to trade Foles in a situation where he doensn’t opt out of his 2019 deal?

NFL insider Jason La Canfora reports such a situation is possible:

However, the Eagles could allow Foles to keep that [$20 million] money and then orchestrate a trade to a team of his liking, a possibility that one source with knowledge of the situation indicated should not be discounted. The Eagles have a strong relationship with Foles and in reality, there are only going to be two-to-four teams likely in the market for him, anyway.

The Eagles certainly have motivation to trade Foles. It would allow them to get some immediate compensation for their 2018 Super Bowl MVP. Letting Foles walk in free agency would only net them a third-round compensatory pick (a late Day 2 selection) in the 2020 NFL Draft ... in the best case scenario.

Foles, on the other hand, doesn’t have as much reason to agree to a trade. Teams will be bidding on his services if he becomes a free agent, which will help him get a nice, new contract. He’ll also get to pick his new team without the Eagles having any say. Plus, his new team won’t have to give away any draft pick compensation that could potentially help Foles succeed in his new environment.

But maybe there’s some reason to believe the Eagles and Foles will work together. Maybe the strong relationship between the two sides will allow them to navigate a trade that works for everyone. The Eagles have already shown some good faith by paying Foles an extra $1 million for a bonus he barely missed out on.

Beyond that player-team connection, there seems to be a belief that Foles’ market might not be as strong as anticipated. La Canfora says there are only “two-to-four teams” likely to be interested in him. A recent report from Tony Pauline jibes with that sentiment:

Nick Foles seems to be top of the list for any quarterback-needy team as we head into the offseason. The Eagles’ reserve signal caller is coming off a pair of terrific seasons when he came off the bench to fill in for an injured Carson Wentz, leading the Eagles to last year’s Super Bowl title and deeper into this year’s playoffs than anyone thought possible. But will Foles be an automatic savior for whomever he plays for in 2019? Many including myself are not so sure, and this belief is not meant to demean Foles. Several people tell me Foles was perfect for the role he filled the past two seasons - stepping in during the second half of the year - and may struggle being a 16-game starter. Others, including myself, believe the association, tutelage and partnership with Eagles coach Doug Pederson was priceless for Foles, and there’s no guarantee that will continue with another organization. In other words, Doug Pederson and the Eagles organization were vital to Foles’ success the past two years.

If Foles’ camp decides his market isn’t going to be super strong, it could make sense for their side to take the Eagles’ $20 million, not have to pay back the $2 million to opt out, and see if they can work out an extension with a team interested in trading for Foles. It’s not a simple process but it’s hardly unprecedented.

So, which team(s) might be interested in Foles? There’s a lot of buzz about BDN potentially ending up in Jacksonville with the Jaguars. From La Canfora:

Jacksonville and Miami are the two teams most often considered as suitors for the Super Bowl LII MVP. The Jags in particular have been doing work on Foles and Joe Flacco, I’m told, and are set to pursue an established, winning quarterback to try to get them back in the playoffs. With a limited market of teams -- if you recall, there was record turnover at QB last offseason, with far fewer teams in the market for them now -- it is not as if Foles will be making the rounds all over the league with a half dozen teams making offers.

Matt Miller also said there’s talk the Eagles’ asking price could be a second-round pick:

Could Nick Foles land in Jacksonville? It’s a theory many have floated for several obvious reasons. The Philadelphia Eagles will not want to trade him within the NFC East, and they might try to keep him out of the NFC altogether. The Jaguars also hired Foles’ former quarterbacks coach, John DeFilippo, as offensive coordinator. If the asking price is a second-round pick, as many have theorized at NFLPA practices, the Jaguars should jump at the opportunity.

Getting a second-round pick for Foles this year is clearly preferable to receiving a 2020 third-round pick comp pick. Such a deal would give the Eagles three second-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. Jacksonville, meanwhile, might not be so reluctant to give up a second because they already have two third-round picks in 2019.

The feeling here is that the Eagles trading Foles isn’t the most likely option. It just seems like Foles’ best interest is to enter free agency. But Foles is a unique person/player. And Howie Roseman is a very creative executive. So you can’t rule out a trade entirely.

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