Jalen Hurts

Eagles To Consider Drafting QB In First Round

After the Eagles traded Carson Wentz earlier this week, we heard that the team was not expected to turn the reins over to Jalen Hurts without having him earn the job. Zach Berman of The Athletic confirms that Philadelphia is likely to sign a free agent passer, and Tim McManus of ESPN.com says he expects the team to seriously consider drafting a QB with the No. 6 overall pick.

According to McManus, there were mixed opinions of Hurts within the organization in the runup to last year’s draft. While owner Jeffrey Lurie and GM Howie Roseman were among his advocates, the club did not necessarily select Hurts with the idea that he would become the team’s long-term answer at quarterback. Rather, the Eagles invest a great deal of draft and financial capital into the quarterback position as a matter of course, and Hurts simply represented a good value when Philly was on the clock in the second round of the 2020 draft.

In his four-game audition last year, Hurts certainly did enough to suggest that he can, in fact, be a franchise quarterback, but there were some concerns as well. For instance, his 52% completion percentage was lowest among all QBs that attempted at least 100 passes, and he ranked 27th among 41 quarterbacks with at least 150 passing plays in Expected Points Added (EPA) per play, according to TruMedia. Obviously, the limited sample size makes it impossible to draw any definitive conclusions about Hurts’ future, but by the same token, the Eagles — who usually aren’t picking as high as they are this year — would be remiss if they did not take a hard look at the top collegiate passers in the 2021 draft.

Trevor Lawrence will be selected by the Jaguars with the No. 1 overall pick, but after that, it’s impossible to predict how the quarterback dominos will fall. The Eagles might have a shot at one of BYU’s Zach Wilson, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, but all three players could be off the board by the time the sixth pick rolls around. As such, Philadelphia might need to orchestrate a trade-up if they want one of those passers, and given that the club is already in salary cap hell, draft assets are especially valuable this year.

On the other hand, it’s not every day that you get a chance to select a premier collegiate quarterback, so if Roseman & Co. feel strongly enough about a player like Wilson, Fields, or Lance, they might have to bite the bullet. The Eagles’ salary cap picture should look much rosier in 2022, and at that point, they could have two promising young QBs playing under rookie contracts, which would be an enviable scenario.

As for the free agent quarterbacks that could be brought in, Berman names Jacoby Brissett, Tyrod Taylor, and Andy Dalton as potential targets. There are no concrete reports linking those players to Philadelphia at this point, but even if the Eagles draft a quarterback, they still might offer the clearest path to playing time for a passer in that free agent tier.

If the Eagles do not elect to draft a QB with the No. 6 selection, Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94 WIP sees the team picking an offensive or defensive lineman (Twitter link).

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Carson Wentz Fallout: Hurts, Patriots, Pederson

The Carson Wentz era in Philadelphia came to an end today, as the former second-overall pick was dealt to the Colts. However, just because Wentz was sent packing, that doesn’t necessarily mean Jalen Hurts will slide into the starting spot. Sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen that the Eagles intend to bring in “competition” at quarterback, and the “starting job is not expected to automatically go to Hurts.”

The Eagles made a significant commitment to Hurts when they selected him in the second round of last year’s draft, and the former Alabama/Oklahoma standout showed flashes of potential during the 2020 season. Hurts ultimately started four of his 15 appearances this past season, completing 52 percent of his passes for 1,061 yards, six touchdowns, and four interceptions. He added another 354 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 63 carries.

It’s pretty clear that Hurts is the heir apparent at the quarterback spot, so this report is probably mostly lip service … teams don’t want their young players to rest on their laurels. Rather, the team is likely looking toward a veteran free agent who will provide some extra motivation to the young signal caller.

Let’s check out some more Wentz-centric notes:

  • The Colts ended up sending Philly a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional 2022 second-round pick. According to Zak Keefer of The Athletic, Indy’s offer “hadn’t changed all that much across 10 days of negotiations.” The Colts front office ultimately believed the compensation was “fair,” and they never intended to “meet the Eagles’ initial demands of multiple first-round picks.” Per Keefer, the Colts understood that Wentz wasn’t their only option to replace Philip Rivers, and the front office was weighing other options while negotiating with Philadelphia.
  • We learned earlier today that the Bears had inquired on Wentz but never made a definitive offer. The same goes for the Patriots. According to Jeff Howe of the The Athletic, New England called the Eagles about the quarterback but lost interest when they heard the asking price. As the reporter notes, the Patriots are unlikely to “overpay for a veteran if it’s not a perfect fit,” especially at this point in the offseason.
  • How did it get to this point between Wentz and the Eagles? ESPN’s Tim McManus writes that the drafting of Hurts may have marked the “beginning of the end,” but there were plenty of additional factors that came into play during the 2020 season. As the Eagles losses and injuries continued to mount, (former) head coach Doug Pederson stripped Wentz of “much of his control over the offense.” As a result, Wentz vicariously lost faith in his head coach and the system.
  • Wentz didn’t just lose faith in Pederson. Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that Wentz “lost faith in [general manager Howie Roseman‘s] decision making. Wentz held a similar sentiment toward owner Jeffrey Lurie, who supported his GM and the front office’s decision to select Hurts in the second round.

Carson Wentz Not Interested In QB2 Role

As expected, the future of Carson Wentz in Philadelphia is fast becoming a hot topic in the NFL news cycle. This morning, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com published a report saying that Wentz is not interested in being a backup quarterback and will ask to be traded if Jalen Hurts continues as the team’s starter.

Obviously, no player wants to be a backup, especially a player like Wentz who is not too far removed from being a legitimate MVP candidate and whose massive contract has quickly turned into an albatross. But if his goal is to get a fresh start somewhere else, then leaking his unhappiness might not be the best way to go about it, as it could hurt the Eagles’ leverage with other clubs and add another layer of complexity to trade talks.

According to Schefter, Wentz is unhappy with how his benching has unfolded. It seems his primary point of contention is that head coach Doug Pederson has not said whether the switch to Hurts is permanent, though sources tell ESPN and Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) that the rookie passer will remain the starter for the rest of the regular season (and presumably into the playoffs if Philadelphia should qualify). Schefter’s report also lends credence to prior rumblings that Wentz’s confidence was shaken when Hurts was selected in the second round of this year’s draft.

Just last week, we heard that the Eagles are committed to Wentz as their long-term solution under center, though many believe that was simply to help themselves in their seemingly inevitable trade negotiations. As we detailed in that story, the club will need to make a decision on Wentz’s future by the second day of the 2021 league year, which will be sometime in the middle of March. On the third day of the league year, Wentz’s 2022 base salary of $22MM becomes fully-guaranteed, and he will receive a $10MM roster bonus for 2021.

In addition to the Colts, Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94 WIP sees the Patriots, Broncos, and 49ers as potential trade partners.

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Eagles To Stick With Jalen Hurts As Starter

The Eagles are sticking with Jalen Hurts as their starting quarterback, head coach Doug Pederson announced. Hurts — starting in place of Carson Wentz — impressed on Sunday as he led the Eagles to a 24-21 win over the Saints.

[RELATED: Eagles To Keep Carson Wentz?]

Thanks in part to Hurts, the Eagles snapped a four-game skid and kept their playoff hopes alive. Now, the Birds are a mere 1.5 games back of the Washington Football Team for the NFC East lead.

Hurts completed 17-of-30 passes against the Saints. More importantly, he dazzled on the ground. His 18 carries for 106 yards put him in rarified air — he’s just the fifth Eagles quarterback to rush for 100 yards in the Super Bowl era, joining the likes of Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb, and Randall Cunningham.

Meanwhile, the Eagles will need to decide on Wentz’s fate by the second day of the 2021 league year in March. On Day 3, Wentz’s 2022 base salary of $22MM gets locked in and he’ll receive a $10MM roster bonus for 2021. Cutting Wentz would result in a massive dead cap hit of nearly $60MM, but a trade would be much more palatable for their finances.

If the Eagles aren’t able to squeeze into the playoffs, they’ll have many more decisions to make, including the fate of Pederson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles To Start Jalen Hurts, Bench Carson Wentz

Well it’s official, Carson Wentz is being sent to the bench. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has made his decision and he’ll be starting Jalen Hurts under center for their Week 14 game against the Saints, sources told Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

It’s not a surprising move considering Hurts replaced Wentz during Sunday’s loss to the Packers and moved the ball much better, but it sure is a monumental one. Whether this is the end of Wentz’s run in Philly remains to be seen, as his contract now looms over the franchise. The second overall pick of the 2020 draft is due over $50MM in guaranteed money over the next two seasons after this one.

It’s very hard to envision him not being on the roster in 2021, unless the Eagles are willing to absorb a massive dead cap hit. They could look to trade him, although needless to say it won’t be easy to iron out a deal.It’s fair to say Philadelphia brass brought this quarterback controversy upon themselves by drafting Hurts in the second-round back in April. Whether that pick shattered Wentz’s confidence or whatever else, his play had regressed to atrocious levels. He leads the league in interceptions, and nobody else is even a close second.

It’s anyone’s guess what Hurts will look like in an offense with a shaky offensive line and inconsistent pass-catchers, but he can’t be any worse than Wentz statistically at this point. It’s possible Pederson is making this move now in an attempt to save his own job, as we heard a couple of days ago that the coach who won the Super Bowl just a few years ago is on the hot seat.

It’s a remarkable fall from grace for Wentz, as at this point last year he was being widely praised for helping the Eagles storm back and win the NFC East. It wasn’t too long ago that Wentz was considered an MVP candidate before going down with a torn ACL and LCL. But things change fast in the NFL, and unfortunately injuries robbed Wentz of the chance to have any memorable postseason moments with the team the past few seasons. There’s a lot still left to be written, but it looks like this could be the beginning of the end for Wentz in Philadelphia.

Hurts, the 53rd pick of April’s draft, accomplished a ton in college at both Alabama and Oklahoma. As ridiculous as it sounds, the 3-8-1 Eagles are still alive in the pitiful NFC East. It’ll be interesting to see if Hurts sparks something in this locker room, or if their struggles continue just as much as before.

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Extra Points: Sherman, Wentz, Rivers

Richard Sherman made a triumphant return to the 49ers last week, picking off Jared Goff to help upset the Rams in a must-win game. The star cornerback wasn’t basking in the glow of that victory this week though, as he bluntly talked about his future with Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports. In the interview, Sherman said he doesn’t expect to be back in San Francisco next season. “We’ve had brief conversations,” Sherman said about a new contract. “I think that there’s obviously a want from both sides to come back and make this work. Unfortunately, I don’t know that the circumstances will allow it.” Expounding further, Sherman made it clear that the 49ers are going to have to extend a lot of their core guys soon, and there simply might not be enough money left over for him.

There are a ton of guys that need to be paid and are coming up,” he said. “Fred Warner is coming up. There are, like, 40 free agents who need to be re-signed. At the end of the day, they have to do what’s best for the majority, for the team. And I got to understand that. And so the numbers are adding up to that I won’t be here, unless something miraculous happens, which would be really cool.” Sherman, who serves as his own agent, doesn’t seem to harbor any hard feelings about this potential reality. It’s a mature and nuanced take for a star player to have. The former Seahawks All-Pro has remained very productive since joining the 49ers in 2018, but he’s missed almost all of this season with a calf injury. He’ll be a free agent in March.

  • The big story of Week 13 so far has been the benching of Carson Wentz. Doug Pederson finally pulled the plug and inserted Jalen Hurts in the second half of Philly’s loss to Green Bay, and the rookie immediately provided a spark. He threw for a touchdown on a fourth and 19, and moved the offense much better than Wentz did even though he did have a game-sealing interception at the end. But speaking after the finish, Pederson wasn’t ready to announce his plans for Week 14. In his post-game press conference, the Super Bowl winning coach declined to name a starter and insisted his mind wasn’t made up yet. That being said, it would be pretty shocking if it wasn’t Hurts. When a coach declines to say his usual starter will be out there the next week, he almost always ends up getting replaced during the week. With more than $50MM in guaranteed money still coming his way over the next couple years, it’s anyone’s guess what the Eagles will do with Wentz, who leads the league in interceptions with 15.
  • Philip Rivers led the Colts to their eighth win of the season Sunday, beating the Texans and moving back into a tie for first place in the AFC South. But although he’ll continue to play, Rivers is apparently dealing with a very significant injury. The veteran passer is dealing with a “plantar plate rupture” in his foot, which can essentially be described as a really bad case of turf toe, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports (Twitter video link). Rapoport adds that it’s bad enough that Rivers will need surgery after the season to fix it. It sounds like the kind of injury that could sideline some players, but not the Iron Man Rivers. Incredibly, the signal-caller has never missed a start since taking over the Chargers’ job all the way back in 2006. Considering he once played a playoff game on a torn ACL, this isn’t too surprising. It didn’t seem to effect him all that much on Sunday, as he carved up Houston for 285 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers.
  • In case you missed it, Titans first-round tackle Isaiah Wilson’s disaster of a rookie season got even worse this weekend when the team suspended him for violating team rules.

Eagles Bench Carson Wentz

Many Eagles fans have been clamoring for this for a while now, and they finally got their wish. Doug Pederson benched quarterback Carson Wentz during the team’s game against the Packers Sunday.

Jalen Hurts took over under center. At first it looked like Hurts might just be coming out as part of his usual gadget package, but Pederson let him play an entire drive. Then Hurts was back out there to start the next series, confirming that Wentz had been benched. While it’s a move that arguably had to be made, it also raises more questions than it answers moving forward. Wentz has well over $50MM in guaranteed money still coming his way between 2021 and 2022, and there’s no good way out of his contract for a while.

If Hurts is made the full-time starter, Wentz will obviously be an extraordinarily expensive backup. The former second overall pick regressed mightily this season, and currently leads the NFL with a whopping 15 interceptions. Nobody else in the league had more than 11 entering this week. Wentz was once again disastrous against Green Bay before getting pulled, completing only six of 15 passes.

Pederson has clearly been mulling this decision for a while, as we heard before their Week 12 game that Hurts was getting more reps in practice and would see his heaviest usage yet last week on Monday Night Football. That didn’t materialize as Hurts played sparingly in the loss to the Seahawks, but the next week he finally pulled the trigger.

The Eagles are still alive in the race for the pitiful NFC East, but things are slipping away fast. The team is at a crossroads, and it’ll be very interesting to see how the front office manages this whole situation moving forward. We’ll update you as soon as we hear more on the situation, and about who will start in Week 14 against the Saints.

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Extra Points: 49ers, Hurts, Gase

The 49ers picked up a huge win over the Rams on Sunday, but they were dealt an unexpected blow earlier this week when Santa Clara County officials suddenly announced they wouldn’t be allowed to practice or play in their stadium moving forward. That’s left the 49ers reeling, with little time to formulate a backup plan. Speaking after the game, head coach Kyle Shanahan said it was “extremely disappointing” that the team wasn’t given any advanced notice, and said “we’re working our tail off” to find new accommodations. As of right now the “most likely” option is for the 49ers to play their remaining home games at the Cardinals’ stadium, sources told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Their division rivals are apparently willing to lend a helping hand to the 49ers. Rapoport also writes that a stadium in Texas is another option, although the NFL would prefer them to play at an NFL arena. The question would then turn into what the team will do for a living situation. Rapoport writes that it’s possible the team just stays in Arizona and lives out of hotels in the area, forming a bubble of sorts. It’s a tough situation that will put 5-6 San Fran at a competitive disadvantage for the rest of the year. We’ll update whenever a plan is officially ironed out.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Eagles fans that have been clamoring for more Jalen Hurts are about to get their wish. Philly is expected to give Hurts his most extensive playing time of the season, including plays where Carson Wentz isn’t on the field, for their Monday night game against the Seahawks, Rapoport writes. Rapsheet says it’s unlikely he’ll get a full series, but to expect to see him for two or three plays at a time. Philly inflicted this quarterback controversy upon themselves by drafting Hurts in the second-round back in April. Wentz, of course, has been mostly awful this season. He’s still owed over $50MM in guaranteed money over the next two seasons, but it sounds like things could finally be trending toward a benching if he doesn’t get things turned around soon. Either way, it’ll be very interesting to see how Hurts looks on MNF.
  •  The Jets continued their march toward a potential winless season with a defeat at the hands of the Dolphins. 0-11 aside, there’s now a minor controversy over who is calling the plays in New York. Before the game, Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com tweeted that Adam Gase would re-take play calling duties from offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. But after the game, Gase insisted he wasn’t calling the plays. Reporters pressed Gase on it, claiming Loggains looked like he was doing nothing on the sidelines and that Gase was the one talking. Gase then claimed Loggains would talk to him before the drive about what plays to call, then conceded he was calling the plays for third downs and two-minute drills. Sam Darnold said after the game that it was Gase’s voice in his helmet telling him the plays. It’s another bizarre situation, but one that is pretty much par for the course for this 2020 Jets campaign.

NFC East Notes: Ertz, Giants, Cowboys

Zach Ertz‘s high ankle sprain may well have prevented a big trade. Prior to Ertz’s injury, the Eagles were willing to part with the eighth-year tight end before the Nov. 3 deadline, multiple NFL executives informed ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (video link). The Eagles view Dallas Goedert as a long-term cornerstone, a position Ertz previously held in Philly, and the older of the team’s two prominent tight ends became embroiled in a contract dispute with the team during camp. Ertz sought a deal in the George KittleTravis Kelce neighborhood ($14MM-plus per year) and openly questioned whether the Eagles wanted him around. Ertz’s current contract — a four-year, $42MM pact — expires after the 2021 season. He will be on IR beyond the trade deadline.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Although Joe Judge was interestingly noncommittal about Andrew Thomas‘ status earlier this week, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the No. 4 overall pick is in good standing with the Giants and will start at left tackle Thursday night. The Giants used third-round rookie Matt Peart as their left tackle starter against Washington, making the change because Thomas violated a team rule. Thomas played just 22 snaps in Big Blue’s win. Through six games, Pro Football Focus slots Thomas 61st among tackles — behind three tackles that were taken after him in this year’s first round.
  • The Eagles will continue to incorporate Jalen Hurts into their offense. Doug Pederson said this week using Hurts in a Wildcat-type capacity is something the Eagles are “definitely going to continue to explore each week,” via Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94 WIP. The second-round rookie has played 19 snaps this season, including a career-high seven last week. Hurts has completed one pass but is averaging 7.0 yards per carry on seven attempts.
  • It is quite possible the Washington Football Team‘s mascot-less existence will continue into 2021. “There’s a pretty good chance we will be the Washington Football Team next season,” team president Jason Wright said (via John Keim of ESPN.com). The franchise made the change in mid-July.
  • Key defensive personnel could return for the Cowboys this week. Sean Lee and Chidobe Awuzie returned to practice and could be activated ahead of Saturday’s deadline. Both players went on IR after Week 1. Lee’s return from a sports hernia issue would follow Leighton Vander Esch into Dallas’ lineup, giving the embattled defense its full set of first-string linebackers. Awuzie is attempting to come back from a hamstring malady.
  • The Giants worked out a familiar player Thursday. They brought former first-round pick Corey Coleman back for an audition/checkup. The Giants re-signed Coleman in March but cut him ahead of the regular season. Coleman tore an ACL during the team’s 2019 training camp and has not played since.

Eagles HC On Benching Carson Wentz: “Don’t Go There”

Despite a rocky start to the season, the Eagles are not thinking about benching Carson Wentz, head coach Doug Pederson says. In an interview on 94 WIP, Pederson shot down the notion of giving Wentz the hook in favor of rookie Jalen Hurts.

You don’t go there,” Pederson said (via NJ.com’s Chris Franklin). “That’s a knee-jerk reaction. That’s a reaction to things that sometimes are the aura that’s out there. That’s not what we believe internally. We are going to continue to get better. Carson is our quarterback. We are going to get it fixed. Listen, we are only half a game out of first place. The whole division is not playing good football. We’re not that far off.”

Wentz hasn’t been all that and a bag of chips through three games, lobbing two interceptions in each contest against the Washington Football Team, the Rams, and the Bengals. After dropping the first two games, the Eagles came out of this week’s game with a tie, leaving them at 0-2-1 heading into Week 4 against the 49ers. On the plus side, the rest of the NFC East hasn’t gotten off to a rollocking start either, as Pederson indicated. Currently, Washington (1-2) and Dallas (1-2) share the divisional lead with the Giants (0-3) in the cellar.

If Wentz’s struggles continue, so will the questions about Hurts. During his lone season at Oklahoma, Hurts ran for 1,298 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on 233 carries. Wentz, meanwhile, has several years and zeroes to go on his four-year, $128MM extension.

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