Jalen Hurts

Latest On Eagles QB Jalen Hurts

Eagles QB Jalen Hurts‘ recent run of quality play could have major ramifications for Philadelphia’s future. Aside from the obvious fact that getting the quarterback position settled is the most important agenda item for any NFL club, confidence in Hurts as the long-term solution under center opens a lot of other doors for the franchise, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com observes.

Although there are a number of high-profile passers that could be available via trade this offseason — Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, and Russell Wilson, for instance — the Eagles would not have to empty their cache of draft picks to acquire such a player if Hurts really is the answer. And considering the club has at least two 2022 first-round selections and is in line to recoup the Colts’ 2022 first-rounder as part of this year’s Carson Wentz trade, it would certainly be preferable to use those choices on cost-controlled young talent at other areas of need (like safety, where Bo Wulf of The Athletic believes the Eagles could make a significant splash this offseason).

Plus, this year’s crop of collegiate quarterbacks is not considered an especially strong one. Although some college signal-callers have played their way into first-round consideration, none of them have obvious franchise potential, and arguably none of them have the upside of Hurts. So Philadelphia will be happy to let other clubs take fliers on that group of players while it forges ahead with a QB that has shown marked improvement as the season has gone on.

Since Week 8, Hurts is the only player in the league with three or more rushing touchdowns and passing touchdowns. He is also averaging 5.4 yards per carry during that timeframe, good for seventh-best in the NFL (regardless of position). His running ability is part of what makes him such an intriguing player, so while his 90.4 quarterback rating on the season positions him closer to the bottom of the league than the top, Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics — which consider throwing and rushing prowess — consider him a top-10 QB, ahead of players like Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson.

So if Hurts’ arm continues to improve — he has thrown just one pick since Week 6 — there is reason to believe that he is, as owner Jeffrey Lurie hoped, the right QB to build around.

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Eagles Name Jalen Hurts Starting QB

While there did not seem to be much doubt about the Eagles’ starting quarterback job, Nick Sirianni finally removed all doubt Tuesday. Jalen Hurts will start for the team in Week 1.

The Eagles were in position to select Justin Fields or Mac Jones this year, even after trading down from their No. 6 overall spot, but owner Jeffrey Lurie was believed to be behind giving Hurts an opportunity this season. Philadelphia went with Hurts down the stretch last season, as their Carson Wentz era plunged toward a sobering conclusion, and the team will continue on that path to start this season.

Philly, however, has two first-round picks in the 2022 draft. If Wentz plays 75% of the Colts’ offensive snaps, the Eagles will have a third first-rounder. Hurts may have to play very well to keep the Eagles out of the quarterback conversation next year. But he will have that chance, with Joe Flacco and now Gardner Minshew on the Eagles’ roster behind him.

A second-round pick out of Oklahoma, Hurts began his career at Alabama and joined Eagles 2021 first-rounder DeVonta Smith as Crimson Tide freshmen in 2017. After Tua Tagovailoa beat out Hurts for the 2018 Alabama starting job, Hurts transferred to Oklahoma and followed Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray by putting up big numbers with the Sooners. His NFL trajectory remains uncertain, but the Eagles will give the 23-year-old passer a try after trading Wentz.

Doug Pederson Addresses Eagles’ QB Decisions, 2020 Downfall

The Eagles using a second-round pick on Jalen Hurts raised eyebrows last year, and it ended up being a precursor to the end of an era.

While other factors contributed to the five-year Doug PedersonCarson Wentz run abruptly ending, the since-fired head coach said the Hurts move was not part of a plan to develop Wentz’s heir apparent. It is rather remarkable that the Eagles taking Hurts 53rd overall preceded such swift fallout, considering the Alabama/Oklahoma product’s status as Philly’s long-term starter remains uncertain. But less than a year after the pick, Pederson is unemployed and Wentz is in Indianapolis.

You go into drafts and you go into each year looking for quarterbacks,” Pederson said during an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio (via NFL.com). “And we continued to look for quarterbacks, and that’s always something that will never change. We won a Super Bowl with our backup quarterback. And we’ve had to play with our backups a couple of times in Philadelphia.

So we did that a year ago and brought in Jalen Hurts — not to undermine Carson Wentz, not to do anything to take away his job or anything because Carson was our starter. He was the franchise and all that moving forward. But (we wanted) someone that could come in and could be the backup and learn how to play the NFL game — bring his talent to the Philadelphia Eagles.”

Pederson ended up benching Wentz in early December, following a rough stretch for the former No. 2 overall pick. A rash of injuries affected both the Eagles’ offensive line and their receiving corps, and Wentz’s play predictably worsened. The benching led to a fracture between Wentz and Pederson.

The Eagles then parted ways with both, ushering in a Hurts-Nick Sirianni pairing — barely a year after the team narrowly lost a wild-card game. Though the Eagles were believed to be interviewing candidates with an eye on jump-starting Wentz, making an ex-Frank Reich lieutenant a logical option, the franchise quickly went in a different direction.

And really as the season began, things just started to kind of I guess spiral out of control,” Pederson said. “Injuries began to set in. We weren’t playing very well. Turnovers offensively, just a number of things, penalties, more injuries compounded problems, and it just became harder and harder as the year wore on.

“… It’s just unfortunate for me because I was hoping to really have an opportunity to fix the issues that we had and kind of get everything back on track — whether it was going to be this year or the next year. And, obviously, that didn’t happen.”

Pederson, 53, said he will attempt to land a second head coaching job. He discussed Seattle’s offensive coordinator position, but that was the Super Bowl-winning HC’s only known link to a 2021 gig. The Eagles added a 2022 first-round pick in trading down with the Dolphins this year. Barring an injury that prevents Wentz from taking 75% of Indy’s 2021 snaps, the team is in line to collect another from the Colts in the Wentz trade. This would give Philly a good opportunity to draft Wentz’s true successor, if Hurts fares poorly this season.

It is unclear how well Hurts will need to play to prevent the Eagles from entertaining another first-round quarterback pick, but given that he was not drafted with a QB1 role in mind, Philly figures to be linked to 2022 QB prospects.

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Eagles Planning Quarterback Competition?

New Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni says that he will not automatically anoint Jalen Hurts as the team’s starting quarterback. Instead, as James Palmer of the NFL Network tweets, Sirianni plans to hold an open competition for the starting job.

At present, the only other QB on the roster is veteran Joe Flacco, whom Philadelphia signed to a one-year, $3.5MM deal last month. Flacco has enjoyed plenty of success in his lengthy career, highlighted by a Super Bowl MVP award, but he has dealt with injuries in recent seasons and has not been a full-time starter since the first half of the 2018 campaign. Hurts, meanwhile, is entering his second season in the league, and while there are still questions about his long-term viability, his brief audition in 2020 had its share of promising moments.

Barring a complete disaster, Sirianni’s job won’t be on the line in 2021, so he shouldn’t feel any pressure to lean on the more experienced hand over a high-upside talent like Hurts. And considering owner Jeffrey Lurie‘s recent comments that he wants his club to build around the second-year pro, it would be very surprising to see anyone other than Hurts under center on Week 1. Perhaps the rookie HC is simply honing his coach-speak skills.

Of course, Sirianni’s alleged plans for a QB competition immediately spurred speculation that the team could take a quarterback with its first-round choice in next week’s draft. But if the Eagles were going to do that, they probably wouldn’t have traded down from the No. 6 overall pick to No. 12. By the time they are on the clock with the No. 12 selection, all five top QB prospects could be gone.

A recent report suggested that Philadelphia could be eyeing a move back into the top-10, but that same report indicated that the team is also interested in another trade down. Further, if the Eagles were to move back up the board, it might not be for a QB at all, but for a cornerback or wide receiver.

At this point, unless Hurts should suffer an injury or spectacularly underperform during training camp, he still looks like the odds-on favorite to be the Eagles’ starting QB, Sirianni’s “open competition” remarks notwithstanding.

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Eagles Could Move Up In First Round?

After having made one blockbuster trade involving first-round picks, the Eagles might not be done. Albert Breer of SI.com writes that the Eagles could look to move back up in the first round.

The Eagles currently sit with the No. 12 pick in the draft, and Breer writes that the team could spend assets to move into the top-10 while still coming out ahead (when combined with their deal with the Dolphins). The writer speculates that the front office could target a cornerback in a hypothetical trade-up scenario, although Breer doesn’t discount the chances that the team would take a quarterback; this would be a significant pivot after the team selected Jalen Hurts in the second round of last year’s draft.

Alternatively, Breer hints that the Eagles are also sniffing around at trade scenarios that would see them move back even further in the first round. If the Eagles are indeed seeking a cornerback, this path would make some sense, as there’s a chance the team is perfectly fine with any of the top-three players at the position (Jaycee Horn, Patrick Surtain, Caleb Farley).

Either way, it sounds like the No. 12 pick could be on the block, and that particular selection has switched teams multiple times this offseason. That selection was originally owned by the 49ers, and it was sent to Miami (along with a 2021 third-rounder and first-round picks in 2022 and 2023) in a trade that brought the No. 3 pick to San Francisco. Then, Miami went and traded that No. 12 pick (plus a 2022 first-round pick) to the Eagles for No. 6 and No. 156.

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NFC East Notes: Rudolph, Eagles, Cowboys

Kyle Rudolph is expected to undergo foot surgery soon, and he may be in for extensive rehab. The new Giants tight end is believed to be dealing with a Lisfranc injury, Dan Duggan of The Athletic tweets. The troublesome foot malady can be difficult to shake, but Rudolph expects to be ready for Week 1. This injury is similar to what Evan Engram dealt with in 2019. Engram underwent surgery to address his Lisfranc issue in December 2019 and was ready for training camp last year. Rudolph’s timetable is considerably more condensed, which likely led to the delay in the veteran tight end signing his Giants contract. Engram and Rudolph would give the Giants one of the NFL’s top tight end tandems, but the former’s injury history and the latter’s current issue cloud that situation to some degree.

Here is more from the NFC East:

  • GM Howie Roseman and Eagles scouts had differing opinions on which players to select with the team’s top two draft choices last year. The veteran GM and Eagles coaches’ preference for Jalen Reagor won out over the consensus scouts’ preference: Justin Jefferson. Roseman also veered from his scouts’ recommendation in Round 2, tabbing Jalen Hurts over safety Jeremy Chinn, Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes. The Eagles will bank on the latter move this season, having since traded Carson Wentz and seemingly signed Joe Flacco to back up Hurts. Chinn went to the Panthers at No. 64 — 11 picks after Hurts — and finished second in the Defensive Rookie of the Year voting. Going to the Vikings one pick after Reagor, Jefferson finished second in the Offensive Rookie of the Year voting.
  • Frank Reich‘s future took a major turn in 2018, when Josh McDaniels‘ backtracking on his Colts commitment ended up re-routing the Eagles OC to Indianapolis. This came shortly after Reich played a key role in the Eagles’ first Super Bowl championship. Reich nearly saw his status change in 2017, however. A front office push for Reich’s firing existed, according to McLane, who adds Doug Pederson managed to save Reich’s job. In Wentz’s first season — a 7-9 Eagles campaign, which was also Reich’s first as Eagles OC — the team ranked 22nd in total offense. They rose to seventh in 2017, with Wentz finishing first in QBR. The Eagles, who promoted Mike Groh to replace Reich and then fired Groh after the 2019 season, have since hired Reich’s top Colts protégé (Nick Sirianni) as head coach.
  • Brandon Graham agreed to restructure his deal to provide the Eagles with additional cap space last month. Graham’s adjusted contract can be classified as a one-year extension, with Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweeting the new deal is worth nearly $20MM over two years. The Eagles converted Graham’s salaries into prorated bonuses, with the 11-year veteran set to earn barely $1MM in base salary in each of the next three seasons. The team tacked on three void years to the contract, per OverTheCap, which indicates each of Graham’s cap numbers over the life of this through-2023 contract are south of $10MM.
  • After hiring Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator, the Cowboys brought both Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee over from Atlanta. The latter’s deal will be worth the veteran minimum, according to ESPN.com’s Todd Archer (on Twitter). Kazee will count just $988K against the Cowboys’ cap. Attempting to return from an Achilles tear, Kazee will collect $250K guaranteed.

Jeffrey Lurie Wants Eagles To Prioritize Jalen Hurts As QB1

Rather than the Eagles using their No. 6 overall pick to bring in a potential future franchise quarterback, Jeffrey Lurie wants his team to operate with a Jalen Hurts-centric mindset this offseason.

The longtime Eagles owner would prefer the front office build around Hurts, per Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com, rather than bring in true competition for their 2020 second-round pick. The Eagles were expected to attempt to add competition for Hurts; the franchise’s focus may be shifting.

Following last month’s Carson Wentz trade, the Eagles were linked to potentially adding a first-round quarterback. Hurts started four games as a rookie, and while the ex-Alabama and Oklahoma standout provided a bit of a boost for a slumping offense late in the season, he completed 52% of his passes and struggled in his final two outings. Hurts does provide a rushing component that the Eagles did not have with Wentz, however.

Philadelphia’s quarterback situation has changed dramatically in recent weeks. The Eagles’ hiring process is believed to have taken on a Wentz-centric tone, with team brass then prioritizing a coach who could revive their since-traded passer’s career. After dealing the quarterback they once traded up for and then extended in 2019, the Eagles may well make a legitimate attempt to determine if Hurts is the answer.

Adding a quarterback at No. 6 would create true competition, but the Eagles may now be in the market for a later-round backup or veteran insurance behind Hurts. Philly could opt to add a wide receiver in Round 1 for the second straight year or auction off its pick to a QB-seeking team.

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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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