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July 02, 2021

Eagles 2021 training camp preview: Quarterback

Eagles NFL
060321JalenHurts Matt Slocum/Eagles Pool photo

Eagles quarterbacks Jalen Hurts and Joe Flacco.

Over the next three weeks or so (basically whenever there isn't other news to cover), we'll take a look at every player on the Philadelphia Eagles' roster, and how they fit with the team heading into training camp.

As always, we'll start with the quarterback factory.

 Jalen HurtsJoe Flacco Nick Mullens 

Jalen Hurts

Earlier this offseason, we took a deep-dive look at Hurts' 2020 season, so go take a look at that, please and thank you. For those of you too lazy to check that out, the crux of it was that while Hurts has a lot of things going for him (physical and mental toughness, poise, running ability, leadership traits, etc.), he also has a serious and potentially fatal flaw, which is a lack of accuracy.

In OTAs, in the limited time we got to watch practices, an emphasis seemed to be on accuracy drills, shown here:

In 2020 training camp, Hurts often ran with the football instead of running the offense, which is to be expected of rookie quarterbacks who have running ability to fall back on as a crutch. That approach isn't very helpful in practice settings. It was fine when he was the No. 3 quarterback in camp and he was just getting his NFL sea legs under him, but as the starter, he's going to have to run the offense in a way that he and the young skill position players surrounding him can begin to master Nick Sirianni's scheme.

MORE: WTS: Only three NFL teams have a worse roster than the Eagles | Eagles player review: Shaun Bradley edition

The Eagles need to get a clearer picture of what they have in Hurts so they can be guided accordingly on how they spend their two (maybe three) 2022 first-round picks. Of course, how he plays in 2021 in real games will be the biggest deciding factor, but evaluation of Hurts is already underway, and will ramp up throughout the rest of the summer.

Joe Flacco

Like we did with Hurts, we also took a deep-dive look at Joe Flacco's four starts with the Jets last season. Spoiler: It was ugly. For some reason that I will never understand (and you're all probably sick of me bringing up), the Eagles gave Flacco $3.5 million in guaranteed money (with the chance to make as much as $7.5 million), which was pure insanity given that Flacco earned just $1,562,500 last year with the Jets, meaning that the Eagles gave him a 224 percent increase in pay after a season in which Flacco went 0-4 as a starter, and looked bad in the process.

Settle down, Jimmy. You promised yourself you wouldn't do this again.

OK, anyway, Flacco is the No. 2. It'll probably be bad if he has to play.

Nick Mullens

The Eagles had a vacancy at their third quarterback spot after they waived undrafted free agent Jamie Newman, and it was clear that they were going to add somebody before training camp. That somebody became the 26-year-old Mullens, who has a career record of 5-11 as a starter. In 2020, he went 2-6, which included a loss to the Eagles. On the season, he was 211 of 326 (64.7%) for 2,437 yards (7.5 YPA), with 12 TDs, 12 INTs, and a QB rating of 84.1.

Mullens will likely be the No. 3, but there's a reasonable enough argument that he's better than Flacco, at least at their respective stages of their careers. To be determined if the Eagles legitimately view Mullens as competition for Flacco's primary backup spot.

Mullens was appropriately priced at a cap number of $970,000 in 2021, with only $200,000 in guaranteed money.

2021 outlook

Hurts is probably going to have to leave no doubt in 2021 that he should be the team's franchise quarterback going forward, or the Eagles will be very likely to explore long-term answers in 2022, either through the draft or via trade. If Hurts shows that he can be that guy, then the Eagles will (potentially) have three first round picks to improve their roster around him. If not, some combination of those picks will be allocated to the factory.

In the meantime, the Eagles will hope that Carson Wentz stays healthy in Indianapolis, and plays just well enough not to get benched.

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