January 14, 2019
Nick Foles hasn't turned 30 yet. So asking whether or not the Eagles' former Super Bowl MVP is considering retirement may seem like a silly line of questioning. But given Foles' past admission that he considered retirement after his time with the Rams, it's not out of the realm of possibilities.
But according to the Eagles soon-to-be free agent quarterback, returning to Philly last season — not to mention winning a Super Bowl a year ago — has re-energized the back-up-turned-starter and solidified his resolve to continue playing the game he once thought about quitting.
"That's a very good question," Foles said on Monday, a day after losing 20-14 to the Saints in the divisional round of the playoffs, when asked how many more years he'd like to play. "This is something that my wife and I always talk about. We pray about it, what the good Lord wants us to do. Whatever we decide, whatever contract we sign, we will always honor that contract, years-wise, and then we'll go from there. So, that way, I've never had to say, 'I want to play until I'm 40,' or, 'I want to play 'til I'm this.' It's more so a faith thing, like, 'Alright, God. If this is what you want me to do, if this is where my heart's led [me], if I'm doing this for the right reasons, I'll continue to do it.' But, if I can't find the right reasons to do this game, then I need to pursue something else.
"But right now, I'm really loving playing this game. Being a part of a locker room like this has energized me. You know, I've grown this last year as a player more than I ever have. I'm really starting to understand how I want to play this game — my game's changed — and seeing that and seeing what's important. Really, just being myself. And that's the thing that's so hard in this league at times, as young players try to be something that they think they should be, based on what everyone else wants. And I think the thing that I've realized is that I'm just going to be myself and be genuine. And, you know, it's been a lot easier playing this game that way."
Foles' desire to keep playing in the NFL wasn't the only thing that became more clear on locker clean-out day at the NovaCare Complex. Listening to him speak, it also sounded like he doesn't expect he'll be back in Philly next season.
Foles is technically no longer under contract with the Eagles. There is a mutual option on his deal worth north of $20 million for next season, meaning both sides have to agree in order for Foles to return. If the Eagles wish to exercise their half of the option, but Foles doesn't, the quarterback will simply need to pay the Eagles $2 million back in order to pursue free agency.
It's also worth noting that should the Eagles and Foles both agree to sign the mutual option, it would put the Birds, who already have the least salary cap space of any team next season, well over the cap heading into free agency, and severely limit their ability to sign free agents.
"I think that having that option to be a free agent is extremely important," Foles said. "I'm technically really not under contract right now, and that's something we'll discuss in the future. Like I said, it's a unique situation. It's a good situation for this team to have."
So if the Eagles exercise their half of the option, will Foles, who was 4-1 as the starter this season, including 4-0 after replacing an injured Carson Wentz (again), do the same?
"We'll pursue that when it happens. We'll see what happens. [It's] hypothetical," he said. "Once again, taking a breath right now. Talking to the team — you know, I have a great relationship with this team, and that's genuine. So we'll continue to communicate. We'll continue to talk about everything. Ultimately, we'll make the best decision for both sides and we'll figure it out. That's what it's always been about being here in Philly."
If things play out as expected, the Eagles and Foles will part ways this spring. And with retirement seemingly out of the question, what's next for the veteran quarterback?
There are several teams, including Denver and Jacksonville looking for upgrades at the position, but Foles seems more concerned about finding the right team, not just the one that is willing to pay the most for his services.
"I would love to lead a team," Foles said when asked if his goal was to be a starter next season. "You know, the starter thing, leading a team, impacting a locker room, you know, that's why we play the game — to impact people, to create an atmosphere, and you can't just do it as a quarterback though. It's not one person. That's the thing that this team has shown, it takes the whole team. It's not just a quarterback. This team, in all facets, leans on one another — defense, offense, special teams, coaches — and ultimately that's what creates a winning atmosphere. So yeah, just the opportunity to play."
And when asked specifically what he's looking for in a potential new employer, Foles sounded like he's looking to land somewhere with a culture similar to the locker room in which he was standing at the time.
"I mean, everything is open... Like I said, I love this city, I love this locker room — it's special, it's really special. I've enjoyed every moment. So we'll see." — Nick Foles on his future
"Wherever I am — like I said, everything is open — it's all about the people you're with," Foles added. "The atmosphere. So much is put on the quarterback, but great teams are great teams. If you expect the quarterback to go in there and do everything, you're probably not going to be successful. We see that all the time. But the difference here and in Kansas City that I've seen, the teams that are successful are the teams that in the locker room, every side of the ball, everyone actually cares about one another.
"I've always believed that in the fourth quarter of games, the way you win those games is you trust the man next to you. How can you trust a guy if you're not out there playing for him? You can't. But that's what great teams do. So that's something I will always look for in a team."
The atmosphere in the Eagles building was a big topic of Foles final meeting with the Philly media this season. For Foles, it was that culture that helped lure him back to the city, ultimately allowing him the chance to re-invent his career.
Knowing that this could be the end of his time with the Eagles, Foles talked about the emotions of cleaning out his locker and meeting with players and coaches for potentially the last time.
"It's emotional," Foles said. "But at the same time, getting to talk to the guys, getting to talk to the coaches, talk to my teammates. I'm going to come by a few days this week before my family and I head out for a little bit and take a breath. It's emotional. It will probably set in more and more as the days go on because everything is so fresh. You know, we just played a game last night and gave it everything we had.
"But no matter what happens, it's been a joy being here every single day, being in this locker room and wearing this jersey, being a part of this city. But we'll see what happens."
So what did Foles say to his teammates and coaches, knowing full well that the next time he talks to some of them, he could be lining up opposite them?
"I think the big thing is just talking to them, telling them how much I love them and appreciate them. It's really not about the wins and losses, it's about the relationships and the memories you create with one another. We've been here since OTAs and training camp, and you go through so much with one another throughout the week of prep — and the game is actually a really small part of it, though it means so much. So, just talking about the memories, the moments we've shared together, and that's what it's about, getting to see the guys one last time. Because this team will never be the same, just like last year our team is not the same. But you create your new DNA, and that's what we'll do."
Still, Foles wouldn't completely shut the door on a return to Philly. After all, crazier things have happened — you know, like a once-castoff backup quarterback coming in to lead the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title...
"I mean, everything is open," he said when asked if he could envision a scenario in which he returns to the Eagles. "Once again, the most important thing right now is taking a step back and really just being with family and taking a breath. That's the most important part of this year, so everything is open [right now]. We'll talk about everything.
"Like I said, I love this city, I love this locker room — it's special, it's really special. I've enjoyed every moment. So we'll see."
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