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February 22, 2022

Eagles stay or go: Quarterback

Eagles NFL
Jalen_Hurts_11_Eagles_49ers_Frese.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Now that the Philadelphia Eagles' 2021 season is over, we'll be taking a position-by-position look at which players will likely be back with the team in 2022, and which ones likely won't. Today we'll look at quarterback.

On the polls below, they are your votes on what you think the Eagles should do, not necessarily what you think they will do. Please think of them more as approval polls.

Previous stay or go articles:
Jonathan Gannon | Nick Sirianni
Running back | Wide receiver | Defensive end | Center | Offensive tackle
Linebacker | Tight end | Safety | Defensive tackle | Cornerback | Guard | Specialists

Jalen Hurts

Prior to the start of the 2021 season, there were many (myself included) who felt that Jalen Hurts had one season to prove beyond a doubt that he was "the guy" at quarterback for the Eagles, and that if he didn't, the team would either be aggressive in trying to trade for a star vet, or they would select a quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft.

The Eagles like Hurts, of course, or they wouldn't have selected him in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. However, the reality is that they drafted him to be a competent backup to the injury-prone Carson Wentz, and then, yada yada yada, Wentz was gone, and Hurts was what was left. When the Eagles picked Hurts, the plan certainly wasn't for him to be the Eagles' starting quarterback in 2021.

After the Eagles traded Wentz last offseason, they were very clearly interested in the Texans' Deshaun Watson, but no trade materialized. The Eagles refused to name Hurts the team's starting quarterback all throughout the entirety of training camp, even though he took literally every first-team practice rep. His performance in camp was mostly up and down, and that theme carried over into the regular season.

If you followed us during the 2021 season, you know that we kept a "stock up - stock down" weekly progress report on Hurts. It looked like this:

  1. Week 1: Eagles 32 at Falcons 6 📈
  2. Week 2: 49ers 17 at Eagles 11 😐
  3. Week 3: Eagles 21 at Cowboys 41 📉
  4. Week 4: Chiefs 42 at Eagles 30 📈
  5. Week 5: Eagles 21 at Panthers 18 😐
  6. Week 6: Buccaneers 28 at Eagles 22 📉
  7. Week 7: Eagles 22 at Raiders 33 📉
  8. Week 8: Eagles 44 at Lions 6 😐
  9. Week 9: Chargers 27 at Eagles 24 😐
  10. Week 10: Eagles 30 at Broncos 13 📈
  11. Week 11: Saints 29 at Eagles 40 📈
  12. Week 12: Eagles 7 at Giants 13 📉
  13. Week 13: Eagles 33 at Jets 18 🪑
  14. Week 15: Washington 17 at Eagles 27 📈
  15. Week 16: Giants 10 at Eagles 34 😐
  16. Week 17: Eagles 20 at Washington 16 📈
  17. Week 18: Cowboys 51 at Eagles 🪑
  18. Wildcard round: Eagles 15 at Buccaneers 31 📉

The tale of the tape:

📈 = 6 games

📉 = 5 games

😐 = 5 games

🪑 = 2 games

There was some good and some bad, but Hurts did not definitively stamp his ticket as the team's starter going forward, in my opinion.

Because of his athletic ability, Hurts can make plays with his legs that only a small number of quarterbacks in the league can make. He has also widely been praised for his intelligence and leadership qualities. There's little doubt that he is going to have a long NFL career.

However, his two biggest concerns entering the 2021 season were his accuracy, as well as his decision-making / mental processing from the pocket. The latter improved at times over the course of the season, as was expected of a young, smart kid, but Hurts' inaccuracy lingered.

In the playoffs in Tampa, Hurts threw wildly all over the field, missing receivers long, short, left, right, and everything in between. He also failed to pull the trigger on passes to receivers who were wide open for potential big plays. Ultimately, the Eagles' season ended partly because Hurts' most concerning preseason attributes showed up in a big way in their final game.

During their after-season press conferences, Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni emphatically backed Hurts as the Eagles' starting quarterback, which many received as gospel. Of course, last offseason Roseman said that trading Wentz would be like parting with his own fingers, and then, well, you saw what happened. During the 2020 offseason, he said that the team would prioritize getting younger, and then he signed a bunch of old fogeys. In other words, the Eagles are going to say publicly whatever they believe is in their best interests at the time, with the truth only being spoken when it suits them.

This offseason, the Eagles are going to have to try to determine what Hurts' ceiling is. In terms of hopeful outcomes, some of the players Hurts has been compared to are Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, and Josh Allen. It's hard to see Hurts developing into those types of quarterbacks.

• Like Hurts, Jackson did not begin his rookie season as the starter, but he was the starter when it ended. In Year 2, Jackson was the MVP of the league.

• Prescott started as a rookie and took home NFL Rookie of the Year honors. He was good immediately.

• Like Prescott, Wilson started as a rookie, and was good immediately, making the Pro Bowl in each of his first four years in the NFL.

• Allen took some time to develop into the quarterback that he is today, but he was also an imposing 6'5, 240-pound physical beast with a rocket arm. Hurts does not possess Allen's physical traits.

Is it possible for Hurts to reach the levels of those quarterbacks? Eh. Maybe. Is it likely? No, it is not, given that he's already behind guys like Prescott and Wilson at this stage of his career, and he'll never possess the physical traits of guys like Jackson or Allen. Those comparisons are simply too lofty, in my view. 

There's some risk in halting a young quarterback's progress by moving on too early from him before he achieves his ceiling. There's also risk in sticking with a player too long when his realistic ceiling isn't that of a top 10-12 type of quarterback.

#JimmyVerdict: Make no mistake — the Eagles will aggressively pursue an upgrade at quarterback this offseason, whether that be via a trade for a star vet or selecting a quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft if there is one that they feel has significantly better tools to develop. 

This should not be taken as some inside information reporting, to be clear. It's merely common sense. They have the draft assets to make it happen, and a quarterback with no shortage of question marks. They're not just going to stand pat without thoroughly investigating all options.

As you saw a weekend ago, the Rams won a Super Bowl after they traded for Matthew Stafford. As such, Eagles fans who are pining for a veteran quarterback, like, saaaay, Russell Wilson, have themselves a great argument why the Eagles should go ahead and get an elite quarterback if the Seahawks are going to make Wilson available. Unfortunately, I think that what is often lost in that debate is that Stafford's success probably also raised the asking price for a veteran quarterback, and Wilson could ultimately be too cost prohibitive.

As for the draft, I believe that any toolsy quarterback with higher upside than Hurts will be gone by the time the Eagles pick, and in this draft, there probably isn't one worth packaging a bundle of valuable draft assets to trade up for.

I believe that the most likely scenario is that the Eagles will strike out on the QB market, and Hurts will indeed be the starter once again in 2022. Stay.

Eagles stay or go: Jalen Hurts

Gardner Minshew

Minshew is a perfectly good backup quarterback on a low cost contract who the Eagles landed from the Jaguars for the low, low cost of a sixth-round pick just before the start of the 2021 season. 

He served as the Eagles' third-string quarterback while he learned the offense but was always going to leapfrog then No. 2 quarterback Joe Flacco for the backup spot. That eventually happened when the Eagles flipped Flacco to the Jets for a sixth-round pick of their own. It was almost as if they sort of traded Flacco for Minshew, which was an absolute steal for Howie Roseman.

Minshew would start one meaningful game for the Eagles in 2021, a 33-18 win over the Jets. After that win over the Jets, Roseman got Ian Rapoport to write an article about Minshew's offseason trade value:

But the ramifications of Minshew's game should linger into the offseason, where his performance last week versus the Jets -- 20 of 25 for 242 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions -- is sure to draw interest from teams around the NFL. He already has.

Sources say during the season, the Carolina Panthers spoke with Philly about Minshew, discussing what the compensation would be. They never dug deep on a possible trade, but they did discuss what it might take.

The Panthers called before they acquired Matt Barkley and before they signed Cam Newton. Given the way Minshew played, they won't be alone.

I don't know that anyone is trading for Minshew to be their starter in 2022 because they absolutely have to have him, but he could be an option for a team that loses a quarterback to injury during the offseason, or into the regular season.

#JimmyVerdict: Minshew won't be anyone's Plan A or Plan B, but on the final year of his deal, he could be an interesting trade chip for the Eagles. The Eagles shouldn't just give him away, but if they find a suitor willing to cough up, say, a fourth-round pick or better, that would be a nice return on investment.

Whether Minshew is on the team in 2021 or not is also sort of dependent on whether or not Hurts remains the QB1. Because we're forecasting that Hurts will stay, we'll do the same for Minshew. Stay, at least to start the regular season.

Eagles stay or go: Gardner Minshew

Reid Sinnett

Sinnett was a 2020 undrafted free agent of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of San Diego University, who did not make the Bucs' roster out of camp. Thereafter, he toggled back and forth between the Dolphins' practice squad and their active roster. When Miami waived Sinnett during the 2021 regular season, the Eagles claimed him, after just having traded Flacco.

Sinnett has not yet appeared in a regular season game in his two-year career. It would have maybe been fun to get a peek at him in the Eagles' practice squad game against the Cowboys Week 18, but Minshew played that game in its entirety. 

#JimmyVerdict: I'd be lying if I said I've ever seen this guy play, so I don't have any opinion on him that is worth your time. He'll likely be back in camp, but his roster spot is not guaranteed, obviously.

Eagles stay or go: Reid Sinnett

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