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March 04, 2022

Who should be the Eagles backup QB in 2022?

Quarterback Factory.

It’s a phrase that will live in infamy among Eagles fans, but it bears true looking at how this organization has conducted itself over the last two decades. No executive is more aggressive than Howie Roseman and certainly no franchise wheels and deals quarterbacks quite like the Birds.

According to Roseman, the Eagles are confident in Jalen Hurts being the team’s starter in 2022 as he enters his third season as a pro. Whether you want to believe that is another matter, as several veteran quarterbacks could be available via trade this offseason and the Eagles’ three first-round picks could put them in position to select a rookie signal-caller. There is upside in letting Hurts roll into his second campaign as the Eagles’ full-time starter for sure. Today, however, I want to take a peek at how this QB Factory franchise will handle the quarterbacks behind Hurts on the depth chart.

Roseman wisely swung a trade for Gardner Minshew II last August as a young quarterback with 20 starts to his name to add to the mix with Hurts. Minshew cost just a sixth-round pick. Minshew started two games for the Birds in 2021. Throwing aside a meaningless Week 18 contest against the Cowboys, Minshew’s win over the Jets in the Meadowlands in Week 13 helped keep the Eagles’ playoff hopes alive as they eventually made the postseason as a Wild Card squad.

Minshew will be entering his age-26 season and carries a cap hit just north of $2.5 million on the last year of his rookie contract. He’s the best backup quarterback in the league. In reality, he’s a capable starter. It’s because of Minshew’s resume that I’m left wondering if the Eagles would attempt to sell high on Minshew to a quarterback-needy team this offseason.

Now, I’m not in the business of getting rid of players just for the sake of getting rid of players. I think back to the lead-up of last year’s trade deadline. People wanted to trade Miles Sanders. Exploring Sanders’ trade value is something the Eagles should’ve done, but to trade him for, say, a fifth-round pick just to move on wasn’t smart. He’s a talented back who was a key cog in a historic rushing attack and helped the Birds make the postseason. It’s good to have good players!

Keeping Minshew makes sense. If he has to play a game or two during the course of the season filling in for Hurts after an injury, he can win. The ultimate backup quarterback test I do is if a given starter missed three games, is it realistic that this guy could potentially go 2-1 during that span? Minshew passes that for me.

I bring this up though because Roseman can win trades and loves to do so. A year after acquiring Minshew for just a sixth and flipping him for, say, a third-round pick fits his team-building philosophy. What if the Steelers, as they enter a post-Ben Roethlisberger landscape, want to bring in Minshew as they try to find their next franchise QB? What if the Broncos forgo drafting a quarterback in the first-round and are more comfortable treading water in 2022 with Minshew manning an offense that has several talented skill-position players? Roseman should hop on that.

Again, it’s more than fine to roll into this upcoming season with Minshew as QB2, but if the Eagles are able to move him for some nice draft capital, where do they go from there? I’m going to run down some other backup quarterback solutions in the event that the team can come upon a worthwhile Minshew trade.

Internal Candidates

It’s nothing personal against Reid Sinnett, but he can’t be second on the depth chart for an NFL team.

Rookie Quarterbacks

I’m not talking about drafting someone in the first round here. This is a murky quarterback draft class with no clear consensus at the top. If guys start to slide and fall towards Day 2, wouldn’t it be very Roseman to use the pick received from a Minshew trade to restart the rookie contract clock on a newer, younger QB?

The Eagles have spoken to North Carolina’s Sam Howell at the Combine this week, even challenging him to shoot basketballs on a mini hoop. What if he’s there with, hypothetically, the 84th pick that originally belonged to Pittsburgh? Perhaps this flies in the face of building a roster around Jalen Hurts, but look no further than the team’s selection of Hurts two years ago while Carson Wentz was still in town to understand Roseman’s M-O.

Free Agent Quarterbacks

I will die on the Marcus Mariota hill. Eagles fans shouldn’t want to change anything about how the years leading up to the team’s Super Bowl win transpired, but I’ve always wondered how things would’ve played out if the team paired the Heisman Trophy-winning Mariota with Chip Kelly. Regardless of daydreaming about that butterfly effect, Mariota is a vet with ample starting experience who’s won a playoff game in the past and possesses the necessary mobility to replace Hurts in the lineup if need be without completely changing the construction of the Eagles’ offensive attack.

There was talk last offseason of the Eagles possibly pursuing Jacoby Brissett to backup Hurts because Brissett shared time in Indianapolis when Nick Sirianni was the Colts’ offensive coordinator. After spending 2021 with the Dolphins and starting five games for Miami, Brissett is a free agent once again. Due to that familiarity with the Birds’ coaching staff, he’s a legitimate option if the team found an enticing trade partner for Minshew.

To wrap things up, I obviously couldn’t talk about the Eagles’ backup quarterback situation without addressing the elephant in the room with the trunk to back it up: Nick Foles. With a cap hit of more than $10.6 million for 2022, the Bears could cut Foles, who spent the majority of last season as Chicago’s QB3, and save $3 million against their cap sheet. The Eagles likely wouldn’t want to repeat the same mistakes that led to Wentz’s downfall with the team by having Foles’ gigantic shadow hover over Hurts, but, hey, the entertainment factor would be off the charts if there was a third Foles era in Philly.

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