The 2019 NFL offseason has begun for the Philadelphia Eagles, which means Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson will spend the next couple of weeks evaluating the 2018 roster. It’s time to start figuring out what this team needs to do to get back to the Super Bowl. Today we’ll start this roster outlook series by looking at the quarterback position.
Regular season stats: 724 snaps, 279/401 (69.6%), 3074 yards (7.7 yards per attempt), 21 TD, 7 INT, 102.2 passer rating, 34 rushing attempts for 93 yards, 1 reception for 4 yards
Review: Wentz missed most of the 2018 offseason as he recovered from the ACL/LCL injuries he suffered in December 2017. After missing the first two games, Wentz returned to the starting lineup in Week 3. Wentz looked rusty against the Colts but he went on to throw 14 touchdowns to just two interceptions in the six games after his 2018 debut. The Eagles only went 2-4 in those games, however, in part due to late game collapses against the Titans and Panthers. The Carolina game was especially significant as Wentz was crticized for not being “clutch” enough to lead the Eagles on a game-winning drive. Wentz had his worst game of the season when the Eagles went down to New Orleans; he threw zero touchdowns and three interceptions in a 48-7. It was very clear that he was forcing the issue in that matchup. Wentz bounced back from that dreadful outing by throwing six touchdowns to just one interception in his final three games of the season. He even somewhat tackled the “clutch” narrative by leading the Eagles on a game-tying drive against Dallas. Unfortunately for Wentz, he never got back on the field as the Cowboys won the overtime coin toss and put together a game-winning drive. That Week 14 game would be Wentz’s last game of the season as it was discovered he was dealing with a fractured vertebrae in his back.
Outlook: I’ll say it again: some people are way too down on Wentz following the 2018 season. He was from perfect in 2018 and there are a number of reasons to be concerned about his future. We need to see him come up bigger in big spots. He needs to not fumble as much. He needs to prove he can stay healthy. I get all that. But Wentz’s ceiling is undeniable. We all saw just how good he was in 2017. He easily could’ve been the league MVP if he didn’t get hurt. The Eagles don’t win the Super Bowl without him putting the team in a great position to be able to get the No. 1 seed.
And he wasn’t even THAT bad in 2018. Again, he finished the season with a higher passer rating than Tom Brady, Jared Goff, Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, and other notable quarterbacks. That’s not to say he had a better season than those players, or that passer rating is the perfect stat. It’s just to put Wentz’s “struggles” into context. This talk that the Eagles can’t win anything with him or that he’s the entire problem with the offense is BS. We have proof the Eagles’ offense can operate at a high level with Wentz under center.
With Wentz having a full offseason to be healthy and work on his craft, there’s ample reason to believe he can be one the league’s top quarterbacks in 2019 and beyond. Wentz garnered a lot of doubters after his rookie struggles in 2016. Those people looked very foolish in 2017. He’s probably going to make those same people regret doubting him once again this year.
As for Wentz’s contract status, it’ll be interesting to see how the Eagles handle that this offseason since he’s eligible for an extension. The feeling here is that the Eagles are better off signing him to a long-term deal sooner than later. The price is only going to go up by waiting. The Eagles are usually good about getting their young talents locked up early; harken back to the Lane Johnson and Zach Ertz extensions in 2016.
Carson Wentz: Stay or go?
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Regular season stats: 357 snaps, 141/195 (72.3%), 1413 yards (7.2 yards per attempt), 7 TD, 4 INT, 96.0 passer rating, 9 rushing attempts for 17 yards, 1 reception for 10 yards
Playoff stats: 43/71 (60.6%), 467 yards (6.6 yards per attempt), 3 TD, 4 INT, 70.6 passer rating, 3 rushing attempts for -1 yard and 1 TD
Review: Foles did not look good in the 2018 preseason. His first two regular season starts weren’t overly inspiring, either, as he had just a 78.9 passer rating. Foles was ultimately forced back into action in Week 15, following the emergence of Wentz’s back injury. BDN defied the odds once again by leading the Eagles to a big upset win in Los Angeles. Foles continued to add to his legend by leading the Eagles on a game-winning drive to beat the Texans despite taking a big shot to the ribs at the start of that series. In Week 17, Foles tied an NFL record for consecutive completions in a 24-0 win over Washington that allowed Phlly to clinch the No. 6 seed in the 2019 NFL Playoffs (thanks to help from the Bears beating the Vikings). Foles would make Chicago regret letting the reigning Super Bowl MVP into the postseason by leading the Eagles on yet another clutch game-winning drive. It really felt like 2018 was happening all over again, especially when the Eagles jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the Divisional Round. But that’s when the Foles magic ultimately ran out. His interception on an underthrown pass meant for Zach Ertz really turned that game around in New Orleans’ favor. Still, Foles might’ve been able to lead the Eagles on ANOTHER game-winning drive, but his pass for Alshon Jeffery went through the receiver’s hands and got intercepted instead.
Outlook: It’s very likely that Foles’ last pass of his Eagles career will remain that interception. He won’t be remembered for that, of course, because Philadelphia will always love BDN for how he was the first quarterback to bring a Vince Lombardi Trophy to the city. He’ll always be an Eagles legend for that. Thank you, Nick.
Unfortunately, Foles will probably be playing with a new team in 2019. The Eagles will likely exercise his $20 million option knowing that he’ll pay back $2 million in order to void the contract and become a free agent. Foles will then be able to pick his new team in free agency.
It’s possible the Eagles could try to trade Foles. Doing so would either require him working with Philly’s front office to get a deal done ... or ... the Eagles placing the $25 million franchise tag on Foles. While it’s not impossible that Howie Roseman could trade Foles, it just doesn’t seem likely due to a number of complicating factors.
Nick Foles: Stay or go?
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Regular season stats: 11 snaps, 1/2, 22 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 129.2 passer rating
Review: After having a solid preseason, Sudfeld predictably spent most of the 2018 season on the bench. He dressed as Foles’ backup when Wentz was out and he was typically inactive when Wentz was healthy. Sudfeld only attempted two passes in 2018, one of which went for a touchdown in the Week 17 Washington game.
Outlook: Sudfeld is set to be a restricted free agent this offseason so it’ll be interesting to see how the Eagles tender him. Philadelphia can save money by applying the “original-round” tender to Sudfeld. The risk in doing that is the Eagles would only get a sixth-round pick in return if some other team signs him to an offer sheet and Philly doesn’t match. I would think the Eagles didn’t want to spend two years developing Sudfeld just to get a sixth. My guess is the Eagles used the “second-round” tender on Sudfeld, which costs a little more but would prevent other teams from poaching him. No one’s giving up a second for Sudfeld. With Foles likely gone, Sudfeld has big shoes to fill as the Eagles’ backup in 2019. This offseason will mark his second full one with the team.
Nate Sudfeld: Stay or go?
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WHO COULD SIGN
I think the Eagles trust Sudfeld enough to be the No. 2 to Wentz in 2019 so I don’t see them spending serious resources on a veteran backup. They could look to add a “vet” body in the Joe Callahan/Matt McGloin mold as they’ve done over the past couple offseasons. Austin Davis? Tom Savage? Some other entirely unexciting option?
NFL DRAFT OPTIONS
With Sudfeld set to be an unrestricted free agent next offseason, it might not be the worst idea to sniff around developmental quarterbacks in the 2019 NFL Draft. The Eagles could get a guy on Day 3 or in undrafted free agency and try to groom them. Trace McSorley, anyone?