Although the Eagles have been active this offseason, the quarterback position remains a question. Who will Pederson and co. put under center?
Build the defense, draft a quarterback and the rest will follow. This was Andy Reid‘s plan once he got the head coaching job in 1999 for the Philadelphia Eagles. His bold selection of Donovan McNabb with the second overall pick in the 1999 draft solidified the franchise for years to come. The team now finds itself in the same position 17 years later with Doug Pederson in charge. Let’s take a look at the options Pederson has to put under center to lead the team for a long time.
Last offseason, Kelly shipped Nick Foles and a second round pick to the St. Louis Rams in exchange for Bradford and a fourth round pick. Bradford was supposed to be the guy that got Kelly his first playoff win, while Foles was to be the savior of St. Louis. Neither panned out quite like they planned.
Kelly insisted to the media that Bradford was his guy and would be here for years to come. Kelly even expressed his interest in a Bradford return during a mid-December press conference. “We wouldn’t have traded for him if we thought he was going to be here for a year.” Now, Bradford is a free agent, having not signed a long term extension with the team. Kelly essentially traded his second round pick for a rental quarterback that ultimately cost him his job.
Bradford was an average quarterback last season, as he has been his entire career. He completed a career high 65% of his passes while throwing for 3,725 yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, according to NFL.com. One area in which Bradford was surprisingly consistent was his health. Bradford started 14 games last season after only playing in 7 games the two prior seasons combined.
With teams like the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns in need of a quarterback, Pederson will have a tough decision to make regarding Bradford. Luckily, he has a number of options to choose from.
Franchise Tag: The Eagles can opt to franchise Bradford and keep him in town for one more year for about $20 million. This would buy the team time to work on a long term deal, keeping Bradford with the team for years to come. It could also give Pederson the perfect bridge quarterback. The guy to start for a year while Pederson grooms his newly drafted rookie quarterback. The exact role Pederson played for the Eagles in 1999 when Reid drafted McNabb.
Tag and Trade: The organization could also choose to franchise Bradford with the intention of trading him. There are teams such as the Browns and Texans who are looking for a starting quarterback and the Eagles could choose to keep him only to get value for him instead of letting him walk in free agency. This is a complicated option, as Bradford would have to agree to sign the tag while the two sides work out a fair deal for the quarterback. In the end, the Eagles may very well opt for the last option.
Let Him Walk: The team may have to let Bradford walk if it continues to spend on other home grown talents. General Manager Howie Roseman has already dished out healthy pay days to tight ends Brent Celek and Zach Ertz along with defensive end Vinny Curry. There are also rumors that Roseman is working on a deal to keep defensive tackle Fletcher Cox in Philadelphia for a long time. Cox will likely command a similar contract to the $114 million one Ndamukong Suh signed last offseason with the Miami Dolphins. Signing Cox will result in a limited amount of cap space for the team, making it impossible for the team to afford Bradford’s services.
Luckily, Bradford isn’t the only option at quarterback for the Eagles. There are other options via free agency and the draft that Pederson can turn to.
Daniel isn’t the prettiest of names on the market this offseason, but he is one that Pederson would be very comfortable plugging into the starting role for a season while he grooms his newly drafted rookie. Daniel was Alex Smith‘s backup in Kansas City while Pederson was the offensive coordinator. Needless to say, they are very familiar with one another. Although Daniel hasn’t seen the field much in his career, he knows Pederson’s offense pretty well. Over his career, Daniel has thrown for 464 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception while completing 64.9% of his passes, according to ESPN.com. Daniel would be the perfect stop gap for a team looking to win in the future, not next season.
Rumor has it that Pederson is eyeing up the former Eagles quarterback for a potential return to the City of Brotherly Love. Foles and Pederson are also familiar with one another as Pederson was the quarterbacks coach when Roseman selected Foles in the third round of the 2012 draft. ESPN’s Adam Schefter had reported Pederson’s interest multiple times.
A name to watch with Eagles’ off-season QB maneuvers: Nick Foles. Eagles’ HC Doug Pederson drafted Foles and is interested, per NFL sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 7, 2016
Foles struggled mightily after being traded to the Rams, resulting in a mid-season benching by head coach Jeff Fisher. Last season, Foles posted a 56.4% completion percentage while throwing for 2,052 yards, 7 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, according to ESPN.com.
Foles recently signed an extension with the Rams, meaning he would have to be acquired via trade. It shouldn’t take much to pry Foles from the hands of Fisher, but it doesn’t seem ideal. A trade for Foles would most likely just be another stop gap option for Pederson as he works with a rookie quarterback for the future.
The FCS jewel out of North Dakota State University has crept up big boards recently because of his showing in the Senior Bowl. Scouts noticed his pinpoint accuracy, arm strength and field awareness during practice and during his short stint in the game. In the Senior Bowl, Wentz completed 6 of 10 passes for 50 yards, falling victim to two drops by Ohio State receiver Braxton Miller.
During the season, Wentz completed 62.5% of his passes for 1,651 yards, 17 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions. He also added 294 yards and 6 touchdowns on the ground, according to SI.com, making him the ideal: a dual threat quarterback with star potential. Wentz led the Bison to its fifth straight National Championship this season, proving he knows what it takes to win. Carson Wentz could be the perfect project for coach Pederson.
With a fresh start, the Eagles are looking for some consistency. The team hasn’t had a solidified starting quarterback since Donovan McNabb. Both Pederson and Roseman recognize its time to address that position. The only question left unanswered is…Who will it be?
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