January 16, 2019
The Philadelphia Eagles season came to an end on Sunday, and now all anyone wants to talk about is their offseason plans. Well, that didn't take long.
It's only natural, especially when your team loses, to immediately move on and focus on the future. But, let's take one look back at what the Birds were able to accomplish this season: converting Colin Cowherd.
Typically critical of the Birds (and everyone, for that matter), the FOX Sports 1 host went on the following rant on Tuesday, one that I was certainly not expecting and actually agree with. So before turning this What They're Saying post over to the Eagles' offseason plans, let's give Cowherd the floor.
And now, back to the future...
We've written a lot in the last few days about the future of Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, and are generally of the belief there's no way Foles is back with the Eagles next season. Over at The Athletic, Sheil Kapadia does a Q&A with former Eagles president Joe Banner each week. And this week's edition was extremely interesting and enlightening when it comes to Nick Foles' future — especially from the front office perspective.
Basically, Sheil laid out eight different scenarios — pretty much every option for how the Foles-Eagles drama can play out — and asked Banner to weigh in on the merits of each, and just how likely they are to happen. Here are two such scenarios, the most likely (he leaves as a free agent) and the one most fans are probably hoping for (both sides pick up the option and the Eagles are able to trade Foles for something or someone).
Scenario 2: Eagles pick up Foles’ option for 2019, but Foles pays back the $2M and becomes a free agent
If the Eagles pick up Foles’ option, Foles then has until 25 days before the league year begins to void it. Foles’ deadline would be Feb. 16. He can void the option by paying the team $2 million. That would then make him a free agent.
Banner: So this, to me, is the most likely scenario. It gives the Eagles a chance to feel out the market if there’s a significant trade. It’s likely to me that Foles would want to control his own life and choices, which he can do by paying back the $2 million, in which case they still have the opportunity to get a comp pick and he can choose whatever team it is that he wants to go to under whatever terms he wants — completely free to do so.
Scenario 3: Eagles pick up Foles’ option, he doesn’t void it with the $2M payback and they trade him
In this scenario, Foles’ $20 million contract for 2019 would become guaranteed on the third day of the league year (March 15).
Banner: This is certainly possible. It requires a team that’s willing to trade something of substance. It would have to be higher than the comp pick they’d get, which is likely to be at the end of the third round. And a team that is willing to give something up for somebody that is going to make $20 million for one year. Now you may say, “Well, the new team will want to negotiate an extension.” If that’s the case, Foles is better off paying the $2 million and being free to negotiate that. So although this is a possible scenario, I consider it relatively unlikely. [theathletic.com]
We've seen how the front office is viewing it, so what does a former agent think is the most likely outcome to all this?
The Eagles pick up Foles' option years. Foles pays the $2 million to get his freedom. The Eagles let Foles hit the open market because of the potential pitfalls of a franchise tag. Foles finds a team willing to pay him at least in the Case Keenum neighborhood. His former Rams teammate signed a two-year, $36 million contract with the Broncos last March in free agency. The deal is worth up to $40 million through incentives and had $25 million fully guaranteed at signing. An Alex Smith type deal is conceivable with enough interest assuming Foles is a free agent. Smith signed a four-year contract extension averaging $23.5 million per year with the Redskins in connection with his trade early last offseason from the Chiefs. The maximum value is $106.5 million because of $12.5 million in incentives based on Smith's playtime and Washington's playoff success. The extension has $71 million of guarantees, of which $55 million was fully guaranteed at signing. [cbssports.com]
Interestingly enough, with news today that former Eagles QB coach (and Vikings DC) John DeFilippo will be hired as the offensive coordinator in Jacksonville, perhaps that makes sense as a potential trade partner or free agent destination for Foles.
The #Jaguars are expected to hire former #Vikings OC John DeFilippo as their new offensive coordinator, sources say. Doug Marrone took his time with such a key hire, but when the deal gets done, he’ll have his guy.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 16, 2019
Oh, yeah, that guy. Foles isn't the only quarterback the Eagles will need to make a decision on this offseason. They'll also need to decide what to do with future-of-the-franchise Carson Wentz, who will be entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2019.
Do they extend him now? Wait? Would Carson even want to sign his extension now, coming off back-to-back injury-shortened seasons? Martin Frank got into that, as well as four other burning offseason questions for the Eagles.
Does Wentz get an extension?
This is the first time Wentz is eligible for a contract extension. The Eagles can also wait a year to do it. Waiting a year might save the Eagles money this coming season, but it will likely end up costing them more in the long run.
If there is no extension this year, the Eagles will most likely pick up Wentz's fifth-year option for 2020, which could be in the $20-$23 million range. In that scenario, Wentz would count about $8.5 million in 2019 against the salary cap under the fourth year of his rookie contract.
An extension this offseason could ultimately help the Eagles with the salary cap beyond this season. Then again, Wentz might want to wait a year, prove that he's an MVP-caliber quarterback like he was before his knee injury in Dec. 2017, and then maximize what he can make once his rookie contract expires.
Wentz wouldn't comment on the possibility of an extension.
"I’m not going to go there," he said. "Not right now, especially with the season ending (Sunday) the way it did."
Either way, by 2020, Wentz will take up a sizable portion of the Eagles' salary cap, thus limiting the amount of money they can spend in free agency on other positions. But even if an extension doesn't happen this year, the Eagles have to approach whom they go after in free agency with Wentz's future earnings in mind. [delawareonline.com]
No, not the ones that ended Wentz's season. We're talking about the Eagles running backs. Jimmy Kempski listed that as the No. 4 area of need the Eagles must address this offseason. Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com offered up some options, including this looming free agent who has something in common with the Eagles' QB...
Latavius Murray (Vikings)
2018 stats: 140 carries, 578 yards, 6 TD, 22 catches, 141 yards in 16 games (6 starts)
This was our pick in projecting the Eagles' 2019 offensive lineup, and it makes sense.
Murray has been a full-time starter both with the Raiders and Vikings, and also proved capable -- and willing -- to be part of a committee approach too, as he was this year with Dalvin Cook. He's a skilled pass-catcher -- 74 combined in 2015-16 with Oakland -- and likely wouldn't come at a significant cost.
Plus, he has a prior relationship with Carson Wentz -- they share an agent and have worked out together in the past. [nj.com]
So what is the Eagles biggest area of need? As Jimmy Kempski wrote on Wednesday when he ranked defensive end as the No. 1 need, the Eagles are going to lose some of their potent defensive front, specifically on the edge.
The Eagles are almost certainly going to lose some combination of the above defensive ends [Brandon Graham, Michael Bennett, Chris Long) and they must continue to fill the pipeline with pass rushers, and do so now, seeing as pass rushers tend to take a year or two to develop.
Luckily for the Eagles, the crop of defensive linemen in the 2019 NFL Draft is absolutely stacked with good players.
And Howie Roseman seems to agree...
The Eagles own the No. 25 overall pick in the first round. On the second day of the draft, they have two second-round selections thanks to last year's draft-day trade with Baltimore. Roseman said the draft is historically deep at a particular position.
"It's clearly a very good defensive line group, really probably a historical defensive line group and that's both at end and tackle," Roseman said. [philadelphiaeagles.com]
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