Nick Foles won’t be quarterbacking the Eagles for the next six-to-eight weeks after suffering a broken collarbone in Sunday’s game against the Texans, but there’s word that his reign in Philadelphia could have been in peril even if he hadn’t been injured. Sources tell Mark Eckel of the Star-Ledger that Eagles brass, including general manager Howie Roseman, had doubts about Foles’ ability to maintain his outstanding 2013 level of play, and might’ve been considering options at quarterback.
Roseman wasn’t in favor of selecting Foles in the third round of the 2012 draft; instead, he was intent on picking Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins, who ultimately went to Washington in the fourth round. Ex-Eagles head coach Andy Reid (now with Kansas City) and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinwheg (now with the Jets) were proponents of drafting Foles. No member of Philaelphia’s current regime, from Roseman, to head coach Chip Kelly, to personnel man Tom Gamble, had a hand in bringing Foles on board. So it’s not out of the realm of possibility, as a league source tells Eckel, that Roseman might have been looking to make a quarterback change before Foles’ injury. “I think Howie is looking at quarterbacks,” said the source. “He’s kind of soured on Foles, and I don’t think he’s alone. The organization isn’t sold that he’s the guy going forward.”
Foles’ 2014 production certainly hasn’t matched his 2013 performance, but most didn’t expect the 25-year-old to maintain his impeccable touchdown-to-interception ratio from last season. Last year, Foles completed 64% of his passes for more than 2,800 yards, 27 touchdowns, and just two interceptions. This season, however, he was completing just 59.9% of his passes, with a 13:10 TD:INT ratio. Advanced metrics have noticed the Arizona product’s regression as well. After grading as the 17th-best quarterback in the league in 2013 per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), he fell to 29th in 2014. Even more stark, Foles had fallen to 21st among QBs in terms of DVOA after finishing second last season.
As Eckel notes, Kelly has never been critical of Foles, and even lauded his play at Arizona while Kelly was at Oregon. But Kelly did re-sign Michael Vick prior to last season, and installed him as the starting quarterback before injuries forced Foles to take over. Additionally, Kelly played a part in drafting Matt Barkley in the fourth round last year, so it’s not as if the Eagles head coach has shown any allegiance to Foles. Granted, both of the moves noted took place before Foles’ outstanding 2013 season, but it speaks to the fact that Kelly isn’t afraid of having multiple options at QB.
If Philadelphia management is truly concerned about Foles’ talent, it could have a material impact on contract negotiations this offseason. Foles is making $615K in the third season of his four-year rookie deal, and he’s eligible to be extended after this year, though that may have been unlikely anyway. “Let’s just say the way things were going, he wasn’t going to get a contract extension that’s for sure,” a second source told Eckel before Foles’ injury. “Now, if he has a big second half, that could change.” Now, obviously, Foles won’t have the chance to change Roseman & Co.’s minds.
The Eagles could go in any number of directions quarterback-wise in 2015. Despite this news, it’s likely that Foles will remain on the roster and at least be an option to start. If Mark Sanchez plays well in Foles’ absence, it’s conceivable he could be given an opportunity to stick around. Barkley might still be Philadelphia’s plans, while this report will only fuel speculation that Kelly could make a move to draft his old college QB, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. With the Eagles sitting at 6-2, they’ll probably be picking too late in next year’s draft to acquire Mariota, but a trade-up will surely be discussed.