Today, we continue our preview series by taking a look at the quarterback position, the biggest question surrounding the Eagles offseason. We've already covered the offensive line, tight ends, wide receivers and running backs.
Active Roster: Sam Bradford, Thad Lewis, Mark Sanchez
Offseason Signing: McLeod Bethel-Thompson
It seems like a 50-50 chance that the Eagles find a way to keep Bradford. On one hand, he has the ability to play well in a quick passing, west coast offense, but, on the other, he is fragile, could command a steep price tag on the open market. After six years in the NFL, he has yet to show he can be anything more than a high-end game manager a la Alex Smith. Still, if Howie Roseman and company can work out a short-term deal with the signal caller, it would give them a chance to see if Bradford can flourish in Doug Pederson's offense and would give them the opportunity to develop a young quarterback behind him.
Sanchez has the resume of a good backup QB, but the Eagles could save $3.5 million if he is cut. As the team enters the beginning stages of a rebuild, there isn't much need to pay top-dollar for a backup. His salary could go towards Bradford's raise and his roster spot could be handed to a young, developmental talent.
Lewis was signed in Week 2 and served as the third-string quarterback for the remainder of the season, dressing as the backup for the two weeks Bradford was out with his shoulder injury. Don't expect him to be re-signed.
As for the new guy, Bethel-Thompson, he has competed for a number of third-string jobs since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and he finished 2015 on the 49ers practice squad. He's a big body at 6'4", 236 pounds, but he is 27-years-old and offers little upside to a team that needs to maximize each roster spot it designates to a quarterback. Seems to be a camp body, nothing more.
Free Agency: One guy who has been linked to the Eagles over and over again is Chase Daniel. The current backup QB for the Chiefs makes all the sense in the world to the team if they are unable or unwilling to re-sign Bradford and decide that they want to draft their quarterback of the future. Daniel has spent his entire NFL career learning from Andy Reid and Sean Peyton. That, combined with his familiarity with the offense Pederson will want to run could make him a valuable place holder until "unnamed rookie QB" is ready to take over the reigns.
NFL Draft: A lot of talk has already begun regarding the Eagles taking a quarterback with the 13th overall pick in the upcoming draft. Both Jared Goff and Carson Wentz could be off the board by that point, leaving Memphis's Paxton Lynch as the highest-rated guy available. If Roseman and Pederson both truly believe that Lynch has the ability to become a franchise QB, they should take him, no questions asked.
But, if they are able to down in the first and pick up a second rounder in the process, it could make more sense to take an offensive lineman such as Michigan State's Jack Conklin in the first round and his teammate Connor Cook in the second.
Cook was under a lot of scrutiny for his poor play late in the year and his subsequent decision to skip the Senior Bowl, but he recently revealed that he was hurt and was unable to perform up to his full potential.
Did You Know?
In their history, the Eagles have drafted just four quarterbacks in the first round of the NFL Draft, the most recent, and most successful, being Donovan McNabb in 1999.
Prior to McNabb, the Eagles spent first round picks on John Reaves in 1972, Frank Tripucka in 1949 and Davey O'Brien in 1939, none of whom finished their Eagles career with a winning record.
Tucker Bagley is a columnist for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @tbagley515.