Understanding the Eagles’ decision and what’s next for Carson Wentz
PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles will not place the franchise tag on Nick Foles, executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman announced at the scouting combine Wednesday. The Super Bowl LII MVP will become a free agent when the league year opens at 4 p.m. ET on March 13.
How did the Eagles arrive at this decision, and what’s next?
Why not place the franchise tag on Foles?
The only way the Eagles were going to tag Foles was if they found a trade partner for him. The salary for quarterbacks playing under the franchise tag in 2019 is projected to be $25 million. There was no way Philadelphia could afford to pay him that kind of money to be Carson Wentz‘s backup.
The market just didn’t develop like it needed to in order to execute a tag-and-trade. The Broncos were removed from the equation when they dealt for Joe Flacco, and other potential job openings, such as in Oakland or with the New York Giants, never materialized. The Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to be interested, but with no visible competition, the urgency needed to secure Foles’ rights via trade just wasn’t there.
So, the Eagles are going to get nothing in return for a Super Bowl MVP?
No, they’ll likely get a compensatory pick in 2020 by losing Foles in free agency — potentially a third-rounder. That was another factor when analyzing the right course of action here. The Eagles would have needed to receive a pretty high draft pick in any potential deal for a tag-and-trade to make sense on their end.
Are they comfortable moving on from Foles and going with Wentz?
Well, Foles was kind of the ultimate security blanket, but the team believes it is in very good hands with Wentz. Roseman downplayed the report that brought Wentz’s character into question this offseason, saying, “We know Carson. We know what kind of teammate he is and what kind of leader he is,” adding that “none of that is any issue to us” and that they are excited to have him as their quarterback.
Who will back Wentz up now?
Coach Doug Pederson was complimentary of Nate Sudfeld, the team’s No. 3 quarterback over the past two years, saying he has put himself in a position to compete for the backup role, but added, “We don’t just go around giving out jobs.” In other words, he’s going to have to earn it.
If we have learned anything about the Eagles’ current leadership, it is that they believe in investing in the quarterback position — a philosophy that was only bolstered by Foles’ season-saving efforts over the past two years. It seems likely that they’ll add a veteran to the mix for 2019. Case Keenum might shake loose from the Broncos soon. Someone of that ilk would make the Eagles feel a little bit better about losing such an important contributor to their recent success in Foles.
Can they afford to pony up for a high-end backup?
Not currently. According to ESPN’s Roster Management System, the Eagles have about $1.7 million in salary-cap space at the moment, the second lowest amount in the NFL. And Sudfeld, a restricted free agent, isn’t officially on the books yet, though the Eagles will end up tendering him.
But there are ways for Philly to create space before the start of the league year. While money’s tight — and will get even tighter when Wentz gets his mega pay day over the next year or so — this organization will find a way to allocate appropriate resources to the most important position in football.