Less than two hours after the Eagles officially exercised the $20 million option on Nick Foles’ contract for 2019, the next move has already been made.
The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is reporting that Nick Foles is buying his way into free agency as expected.
Sources: #Eagles QB Nick Foles is, in fact, buying back his freedom for $2M, voiding the new and final year of his contract. Now, he’s a free agent... unless Philly hits him with the roughly $25M franchise tag.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 6, 2019
The biggest move is the one that would come next. The Eagles must choose to allow Foles to walk and take the third round compensatory pick that would likely eliminate another compensatory pick for the Birds or franchise tag Foles.
The franchise tag is worth near $25 million and would certainly mean that the Eagles could not hold onto him. That will hurt their leverage in any trade talks.
The Jaguars seem like the best fit. In addition to a familiar coach at offensive coordinator, the team has assets they could move for Foles.
As I wrote earlier in the night, the Jaguars have running back Leonard Fournette and draft picks that could be had in a trade. The team has the seventh (first round), 38th (second round), 69th (third round) and 95th (third round) picks in the 2019 draft, all of which would come before any compensatory pick. If the Eagles are able to handle his cap hit, corner AJ Bouye could also be available.
Other interested teams could include the Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins all of whom may decide to move on from their 2018 seasons. If the Bengals decide to rebuild, they too could be an option, especially if Eagles quarterback coach Press Taylor goes to join his brother Zac, who is the new head coach for the franchise.
Two other interested parties that may need to offer up more in a deal are the NFC East rival New York Giants and Washington Redskins. There are reports that the Eagles do not want Foles to end up in the division, but Howie Roseman won’t turn down a good deal.
If the Eagles place the franchise tag on Foles, they will need to be sure that at least two of those teams are willing to go all in on Foles and end up offering more than the third-round compensatory pick. The team has until March 5 to make that decision.