This week is potentially significant for Nick Foles and his future.
The NFL Combine isn’t just a time where there’s a lot of focus on upcoming NFL Draft prospects. It’s also an event where league executives and agents are getting together to discuss upcoming free agency signings and trades.
In other words, it wouldn’t be surprising if we soon hear some kind of update regarding Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles’ plans for him.
As it currently stands, Foles is set to be a free agent when the new league year begins at 4:00 PM ET on Wednesday, March 13. Foles’ agent can actually discuss contract terms with other teams during the legal tampering window that opens on Monday, March 11.
Of course, the Eagles still have the power to prevent Foles from entering free agency. It’s been reported that Philadelphia will place the franchise tag on Foles in order to trade him. If that’s the case, the Eagles’ time is running out. The deadline to apply the franchise tag is 4:00 PM ET on Tuesday, March 5.
Tag or no tag, it’s looking more and more likely that there’s only one realistic landing spot for Foles: the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jason La Canfora recently expressed this sentiment:
I still have yet to hear anything reliable about any team other than the Jags being interested in Nick Foles. And I don’t envision this market expanding much, although if it was ever going to, it would be this week. The Eagles are playing a dangerous game of chicken if they apply the franchise tag. The Dolphins seem to be in full rebuild and shedding contracts, not adding. Teams loaded up on QBs a year ago. Maybe I’m missing something, but this may be Jacksonville or bust.
But forget what La Canfora wrote for a second and just think about it logically: who else is going to sign the Eagles’ Super Bowl MVP quarterback?
The only feasible non-Jaguars teams in the Foles sweepstakes seem to be: the Miami Dolphins, the New York Giants, the Washington Redskins, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Oakland Raiders. And one can easily find reason why Foles isn’t in play for those teams.
The Dolphins seem to be indicating they plan on tanking the 2019 season. Miami beat writers have downplayed the idea of Foles ending up in South Beach. NFL insider Mike Garafolo also said he doesn’t see that as a possibility.
The Giants should move on from Eli Manning but signs seem to point to him returning for 2019. Manning has been working out at the team facility all offseason and it seems like the plan is for the 38-year-old quarterback to groom his successor that the Giants will take with the No. 6 overall pick. Pat Shurmur knows Foles well, sure, but he also encouraged Chip Kelly to go with Sam Bradford over Foles back in 2015.
Alex Smith might not play in 2019 but Washington is still financially committed to him as their long-term quarterback. Foles probably isn’t itching to play for Dan Snyder, anyway.
The Bengals are seemingly sticking with Andy Dalton. New head coach Zac Taylor has publicly committed to him. Dalton can be cut to save $16.2 million in dead money but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen.
The Raiders already have Derek Carr under contract and $20 million of his deal became fully guaranteed earlier this month. I guess you can’t rule out Jon Gruden doing something crazy, and Oakland general manager Mike Mayock knows Foles well due to his Philly ties, but again, it’s not likely.
And so that really only leaves the Jags as the remaining Foles suitor, whether that’s via trade or free agent signing. Garafolo said there’s a “mutual interest” between Foles and Jacksonville.
There are some reasons why Foles to the Jags might not even be a slam dunk, though. BGN’s Benjamin Solak has previously noted he heard that Jaguars EVP of football operations Tom Coughlin isn’t the biggest Foles fan.
Jacksonville also has some money issues to sort through as they currently project to have the lowest amount of cap space in the league at $1.3 million OVER the cap. Some of their cap issues stem from the fact that Blake Bortles counts $20.8 million against their books in 2019. Cutting Bortles only saves $4.3 million with $16.5 million in dead money.
The seeming lack of Foles options has me wondering: what happens if the Jaguars don’t pick Foles as their guy? It’s very possible they will, but if they don’t ... where’s he going to land?
Some will call for the Eagles to bring him back at that point but I just struggle to see that happening. Last year’s Eagles quarterback dynamic with Foles and Carson Wentz wasn’t exactly conducive to the locker room all being on the same page. There’s also the matter of the Eagles already being tight on cap space and then paying what it takes to keep Foles, which wouldn’t necessarily be cheap.
I almost wonder if Foles might just retire if his market fails to materialize. He turned 30 in January and he previously considered retirement earlier in his career. Foles could further cement his legendary status in Philly by going out on top instead of going to a new team and potentially struggling there. Just a thought.
Again, this week might give us some more clarity on Foles’ future. If it doesn’t, we’ll still know for sure whether the Eagles will be able to trade him or not when the tag deadline arrives next week.
Whatever happens, it’ll be very interesting to see what’s next for BDN.