December 13, 2021
The Eagles are still figuring out their quarterback situation moving forward, with the biggest question still lingering with four games remaining in the season being whether or not second-year QB Jalen Hurts is the answer going forward. Depending on what your answer to that multi-million dollar question is, the flow chart of possibilities stemming from that decision forks off in many different directions.
If Hurts isn't the guy, then the team must decide which route they'd prefer in upgrading the position: draft, trade or free agency. And no matter which path they take, it's going to be costly, whether that's in terms of draft picks used (or traded) or salary cap space needed. There should be options either way, whether it's a guy like Kenny Pickett on draft night, or a proven vet like Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers or Deshaun Watson, each of whom could be on the move this offseason for a variety of reasons. From there, the team would obviously then need to decide what to do with Jalen Hurts. Do you keep him as a cost-effective backup? Or do you look to move him, hoping to get something back and perhaps give the young QB a chance to catch on as a starter elsewhere while he's still young enough to have the luster of potential.
If the team decides Hurts is the guy, however, that opens up different avenues for them to improve in the draft, not being forced to use one or more first-round picks to acquire the top QB prospects, or via trade to bring in a veteran, which also would've had major salary cap ramifications.
But there's another decision that the team must make at the position, and that's regarding backup Gardner Minshew, who will return to the bench this week when Hurts makes his expected return to the lineup after missing the Eagles' Week 13 win over the Jets with an ankle injury.
Like Hurts, Minshew will still be playing on his rookie contract next season (he has one year left while Hurts has two), and could serve as a valuable backup for the Birds, whether they bring Hurts back as the starter or look elsewhere and move Hurts. Or, as we alluded to in a recent What They're Saying, the Eagles could use Minshew's big game against the Jets as a way to trade the former Jaguars starter in the offseason to a QB-needy team.
Apparently, he's already been drawing interest — and that was before he balled out against New York last week. Here's more from NFL Network's Ian Rapoport:
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. ...
Most teams view Minshew as at least a bridge starter with upside; at worst he's a high-level backup. Could he generate at least a mid-round pick, giving the Eagles an upgrade considering what they gave up in compensation? Perhaps. [nfl.com]
It's interesting then that "most teams view Minshew as at least a bridge starter with upside," since that's exactly what the Eagles are in need of right now as they continue to search for the franchise's future at the position. It could be Jalen Hurts, but if the Eagles decide it isn't him, Howie Roseman and Co. will need to figure out what the team is doing at quarterback. Minshew could make sense as a stopgap, but at that point, why not roll with Hurts — who has just as much upside as Minshew and one extra year left on his rookie contract?
Minshew on the other hand, is a more traditional quarterback who might be a better fit as a backup behind a starter who is more of a traditional pocket passer — or as a QB who can be plugged in to an already established system rather than needing one built around his strengths. He's also not Howie's guy. Roseman didn't draft him, and if he can turn around and flip him for something higher than the conditional sixth-round draft pick it cost to acquire him, then the Birds would certainly have to consider that a win. That's probably not going to be an option for Hurts, who won't command a second-round pick right now, which is what the Eagles spent on him. So even if all other things were equal, it's much easier to see a path where the Eagles deal Minshew over Hurts.
The Eagles clearly have some big decisions to make over the final month of the season, and Hurts could make it a lot easier for them by simply going out and performing. But with 12 games of mostly up-and-down play so far, there's a good chance we already know what we're getting from Hurts. A great leader with dynamic playmaking ability who is inconsistent when it comes to the most important aspect of the position, throwing the ball.
Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports