Why Eagles would be wise to let Nate Sudfeld run the show in wake of Carson Wentz’ injury

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It was reported today that Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is suffering from back spasms and may be sidelined during Sunday’s game against the Rams. Not only that, but others have cited that the team may not want to risk letting him play again at all, which makes sense. This is the ultimate Cherry on the Mud Cake for a team ravaged by injury and one would assume that Super Bowl 52 MVP Nick Foles would be the natural successor to the Throne…but there are some things to bear in mind.

 

Nick Foles

Could you imagine the pandemonium if Nick Foles goes out and leads the Eagles to a victory over the Rams next week? Could you imagine the insanity if Nick Foles somehow pushes the Eagles to the playoffs this month? Could you…okay, I’m going to stop there before the world goes into meltdown.

For Foles, this would be an incredibly important stretch if it came to that. The Eagles have a ‘potential out’ in the contract. Here’s what that means moving forward.

Essentially, it allows the Eagles to pick up his 2019 salary (which currently sits at a whopping $20 million after a restructure), but Foles can also opt to enter free agency by giving back the $2 million signing bonus he accepted at the signing of this contract. So, the Eagles either find a way to keep him in the building, or Foles gives back $2M and becomes a free agent.

After all of the if’s, but’s and maybe’s this past offseason, the Eagles opted to keep the Super Bowl MVP around for one more year at least, rewarding him for his incredible performance with a pay-rise and turning away some very interested teams. The issue is that those formerly ‘QB needy’ teams have now found their franchise guy. Of course, there will be teams looking for arguably the best backup in the NFL, but Foles has already expressed an interest to start once more. If he’s going to drive up his value, he will need to come out swinging and prove that that playoff run was a little less miraculous and a little more routine.

For the Eagles, this could be a blessing or a curse. If Foles drums up his value, knowing full well he wishes to be a starter again, then the team would’ve lost out on gaining surmountable draft compensation during a trade one offseason ago. However, the Eagles would receive a high compensatory pick if he does hit the ground running and leave a potential new suitor purring, prompting a free agency walk.

Foles has been here before. The ultimate underdog story, the narrative, the odds, the journey that should never have happened. There’s every chance that this man can take control of a simplified offense as he did last season and at least push it in the right direction.

There is a personal incentive for Foles as well. He’ll receive $250,000 for every game he plays in and that doubles to $500,000 if they win. So essentially, Foles could realistically regain the majority of that $2M signing bonus he’d have to surrender just by being on the field.

From an offensive perspective, Foles is ‘the guy’. He’s spent plenty of time with this team and most recently notched an entire offseason as the team’s starting quarterback while Wentz still rehabbed his torn ACL. But that doesn’t mean he’s the most logical choice.

 

Nate Sudfeld

A restricted free agent once the season ends, Sudfeld has grown into the project quarterback Pederson had been pounding the table for since his arrival. After spending one year with the team, many were excited to see his progress during the preseason and were left pleasantly surprised. The former Redskins signal-caller had taken some notable steps forward and the offense looked far more aggressive when he was on the field. It was safe to say if there was a training camp battle between Foles and Sudfeld, the young gunslinger would’ve won this time around.

The only regular season action Sudfeld has seen thus far for the Eagles came in week 17 last year. If it’s already a given that Foles is going to step into free agency, would it not make sense to give the reins to Sudfeld? Perhaps not right away, but if the Eagles drop either of their next two games, probably ending their season, it would make no sense to expose Foles to injury and instead see exactly what they have in Sudfeld.

That’s the great thing about a third string quarterback; he’s often a total mystery. Signing Nick Foles to a long-term deal as a backup is going to be inherently expensive for a team that simply doesn’t have the cap room, but a young arm who has spent two full seasons under Doug Pederson, Carson Wentz and Nick Foles? Sudfeld could be take a natural progression to the QB2 spot, signing a deal with the Eagles before hitting free agency…but it’s not as if the Eagles would have much reason to prioritize this unless they know they’re going to lose Foles.

If Sudfeld is granted an opportunity and stuns the world, this may be his greatest audition to date. If Nick Foles is unable to deliver, teams have the most miraculous postseason run in NFL history to turn to for film. Nate Sudfeld doesn’t have that privilege and would benefit far more from this exposure and opportunity, if the season does ultimately end sooner than anticipated.

 

The bottom line is that there’s a chance both Foles and Sudfeld don’t return next season. Given that Wentz has sustained some kind of injury every year since 2015, it’s difficult to go into such a crucial contractual year for a young franchise quarterback without a contingency plan in place. That was formerly made up of Nick Foles, but all it takes is one more strong showing and his time in Philadelphia is likely over. If that’s the case, does it not make sense to start preparing for tomorrow, today?

 

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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