Five paths the Eagles and Nick Foles could travel down during ‘Bandersnatch’ offseason

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The reported ‘quarterback controversy’ in Philadelphia is only going to snowball now that the season’s over. So before you get lost in the hype, the chatter, and the rumors; here’s a nice look into several scenarios that the Eagles front office have surely already been mulling for quite some time.

 

The Nick Foles era comes to an end:

The Eagles re-sign Nate Sudfeld

In what seems like the most simplistic yet emotional scenario, the Eagles opt to part ways with the Super Bowl 52 MVP. Retaining him would mean the Eagles will pay him $20M in fully guaranteed money that would become active on the fifth day of the 2019 league year, March 18th. It’s not as if the Eagles have a spare $20M floating around to simply give Foles without making other consequent moves, complicating this whole process.

Allowing Foles to choose his own destiny seems like the kindest move to a player who has given so much to the City of Philadelphia. A Super Bowl ring, another miracle run, and memories that will be passed onto generations to come.

Foles hits free agency in what is quite a shallow quarterback market, only aided by a relatively weak draft class in terms of immediate impact. He would be the perfect ‘bridge’ quarterback for teams looking to draft the future of their franchise, but who remain hesitant that this is the year they find such stability.

Meanwhile, Nate Sudfeld returns and becomes the Eagles’ backup quarterback, replacing Foles and climbing another rung on the ladder that Pederson so carefully placed during his first year as a Head Coach. The QB picture is set for at least two years and all is well in Philadelphia once more.

The Nick Foles era comes to an end:

So does the Nate Sudfeld era…

One alternative here would be Sudfeld getting a case of ‘Chase Daniel-itus’ in which he wants to pursue other options, believing he can be a long-term starter or at least be given the right to fight for a starting position. There are several teams who could present such an opportunity and let’s be honest, his contract is going to be cheap…meaning that options would more than likely present themselves quickly.

This would complicate things for the Eagles, who would now simply have to go and sign another veteran or sign/draft a project QB, depending on their confidence in the player in question. There would be no insurance policy for Carson Wentz and recent history would suggest that having a backup ready to go is almost a must in today’s climate.

 

Nick Foles re-signs with the team

The Eagles decide his fate…

The Eagles trade Foles:

So, what if Nick Foles does re-sign with the team? Well, the Eagles have two options. They cash-in on the value for Foles, realizing that teams would be eager to secure them, or, they retain him. The first of those options is murky because it is a total gamble.

If Howie Roseman does pick that $20M option up, he then has just five days to find a trade partner and Flip Foles and that terrifying salary before it becomes fully guaranteed. Of course, they could flip him after this happens, or even renegotiate to lighten the load for the beneficiary.

This all comes down to who wants to benefit who. Does Nick Foles want to help out the Eagles by letting them decide his future and gain some assets back, or would he rather control his own destiny? If Foles is happy for Howie Roseman to take control of the Ship, then the Eagles then have to decide whether a re-worked deal would benefit themselves more than another team and whether that would eventually play into the equation.

It’s unlikely that the Eagles risk this, but Nick Foles can opt out at any time by giving back his $2M signing bonus from 2018. If the Eagles do ultimately trade Foles, they’re then left with the outcome of the Bandersnatch decision from earlier. If Nate Sudfeld is no longer on the team, some of those assets have to be reinvested in the position.

The downside is that leverage for the Eagles would be minimal. Every team knows Foles can void that option or just walk into free agency…so why would they be willing to give up so much for a QB who could be a free agent anyway? The Eagles meanwhile would HAVE to trade him if they wanted to avoid that $20M hit…meaning they’re immediately on the back-foot.

Nick Foles re-signs with the team

The Eagles decide his fate…

An expensive backup?

If the Eagles opt to keep Foles around, another Bandersnatch thread unfolds. Does he then become the de-facto starter, or is he still a backup? That’s the biggest question so far, because it all depends on what the Eagles draftee wants. Would he try to leverage a contract on the basis he starts for 2019, else he tests free agency to see if he can earn that deserved label elsewhere?

Now, we see the many strands this decision can take. Carson Wentz is bound to come into these discussions because he only has one more contract year until the Eagles will be forced to negotiate a huge extension which could be in the region of elite-tier money. The one thing the Eagles do have on their side, however, is the injury history. This not only gives the team leverage to feel out his contract and option years but allows them to see just how much they want to pledge for the next 5 years plus.

If Foles is happy to return as the backup to Carson Wentz for a third consecutive season, then a restructure is almost imminent. You cannot expect Howie Roseman to pay $20M to Nick Foles to sit on the bench for one more year in some grand gracious gesture.

This is where the future of Nate Sudfeld comes into play. If the Eagles have let Sudfeld walk and retained Foles, they’re kind of handcuffed to the 30-year old. If Sudfeld is on the team, the Eagles at least have some optionality.

Whatever happens, it’s highly unlikely that Foles stays with that price-tag. If he does, the Eagles will be pulling restructures all over the place, just as they did last year to accommodate his wishes. Should Foles remain in Philly, there will be a very lucrative restructure that balances incentives and immediate guaranteed rewards, in a similar vein to what we saw post-Super Bowl.

Nick Foles re-signs with the team

The Eagles decide his fate…

Trading Carson Wentz…

And then, there’s this Elephant in the room. I really, really, really don’t think the Eagles will trade Carson Wentz, but this is the NFL and let’s be honest, stranger things have happened. It has been done before, too. Back in 1999, the Patriots traded away Drew Bledsoe after Tom Brady, his backup, had gone on to win the Super Bowl. I know the two scenarios have plenty of differences, but they also have a lot in common and the Eagles, having built their team through cornerstone players in the trenches, may feel confident in enough in Foles to avoid paying a monumental contract to Wentz and instead opt to keep Foles around.

If this somehow happens, the Eagles NEED to keep Nate Sudfeld around and it’s not even a debate. The picks they would coup from this trade may be enough to help replenish some key positions during the offseason and present a more well-rounded team, but then this fully comes down to the value the team place on Wentz. Is he ‘the guy’ for the next ten years? If there is ANY hesitation, they need to pull the trigger…but only if they can say that Foles is ‘the guy’ for at least five.

The magnitude of this decision to me is simply too much to be plausible. Front offices don’t act off hunches and even in a year where Wentz was battling injury, recovery and no offseason with his new coordinator, he still matched numbers that won an MVP award in 2017.

But again, this is the NFL…and this would be one of the most groundbreaking moves in recent memory.

 

 

Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

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