There are endless debates one can have when discussing the Eagles quarterback room. How elite is Carson Wentz? Why was Jalen Hurts drafted? What is a quarterback factory?
Why isn’t Clayton TH But there’s one man consistently left out of every discussion who may, just may, be able to make some noise this offseason.
That man is former fourth-round pick Kyle Lauletta. Now 25-years-old, the former Richmond Spider signed with the Eagles just days after he was shockingly cut from the New York Giants. He was handed the second-highest deal of any UDFA, showing a real sign of investment from the Eagles.
The admiration for the former Richmond Spider’s game from the Eagles perspective started before the NFL Draft. The Birds always have a strong presence at the Senior Bowl and it just so happened that Lauletta would put on a passing clinic, leading all QB’s in passing yards with 198 and throwing 3 touchdown passes in the process. The personnel in attendance were high on Lauletta, but drafting a quarterback as high as the middle of the draft just wouldn’t have been totally logical. For context, Avonte Maddox and Josh Sweat were taken instead, two names who could have huge impacts this season.
It’s easy to see why the Eagles liked Lauletta. At 6’3, 217 lbs, he has the size and smarts needed to thrive in Pederson’s scheme. He didn’t flash a cannon-like arm, but an ability to read defenses quickly and deliver precise passes in the shorter areas of the field, leading his receivers to open space. This was echoed by his final collegiate season where he passed for 28 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and completed 63.5% of his passes.
After being drafted by the Giants however, it appeared as though the relationship with the Eagles would be cut short. Lauletta would learn under Eli Manning in 2018 with the hopes of one day claiming the starting role for his own.
Things took a disappointing turn in the heart of his rookie campaign. He was charged with eluding police, resisting arrest, and obstructing justice after almost hitting a police officer in his car during the month of October.
If the off-field distractions and impact they carry onto the field weren’t enough, when he finally took the field in place of Eli Manning during a blowout win over the Redskins, even that turned sour. Lauletta attempted five passes and missed all five, throwing one interception.
The next offseason saw New York shockingly draft Daniel Jones. There’s no way Lauletta wouldn’t be shaken up by this. After such a tough rookie year, he’s already been pushed to the back of the line. Something had to change. He needed a strong preseason.
That’s exactly what he delivered. Completing 37/62 passes, throwing for 453 yards, 4 touchdowns and 0 INT, the 25-year old amassed a 103.8 passer rating and graded 13th out of 79 qualifying quarterbacks according to PFF. This was made even sweeter with a stunning 19-point comeback in the preseason finale. But for the Giants, it wasn’t enough. Lauletta was cut.
Days later, he ended up with the Eagles, a team who he had great familiarity with by this point and had grown up supporting. His next challenge was a simple one – wait and see how the season pans out and then strike in the offseason.
Josh McCown departed, Nate Sudfeld re-signed, and Jalen Hurts was drafted. The QB picture is as clear as day now. Lauletta is in contention with Sudfeld for the QB3 spot after the Indiana product has failed to show anything noteworthy this past year. He’s not been trusted when forced into regular-season action as McCown and Foles had before him, and his 2019 Summer was one of underwhelming play and injury.
Lauletta has a real chance to beat out Sudfeld for that spot and stick on the Eagles roster behind Wentz and Hurts. If he can prove that he’s turned a fresh page, leave the off-field drama behind and overcome the lack of trust placed on him by the Giants, then maybe the show of confidence by the Eagles both before the NFL draft and after he was cut will be enough to see him spice things up in the battle for QB3.
Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports