For the right price, moving Foles is in Eagles’ best long-term interests

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor 

Nick Foles, in one of the most magical playoff runs in sports history, guided the Philadelphia Eagles to their first Super Bowl title. This past Sunday marked the one-month anniversary of a dominant performance in which Foles won the Super Bowl MVP. In eight months, lots of babies born in the Delaware Valley will be named Nick. Foles, deservedly so, will always be a hero in Philadelphia. 

But football goes on. Free-agency starts in less than 10 days. We're a month-and-a-half out from the 2018 NFL Draft, where the Eagles own just one pick in the first three rounds. Great organizations build sustained success by continuing to replenish their team. Organizations that have said sustained success don't build their team with just the next season in mind, but also the season five years down the road at the front of their mind. As much as it may be inconvenient, having the longest view in the room likely means that it is in the Eagles' best interests to move Foles, who still is their backup, when his value is at an all-time high. 

ESPN's Bill Polian opined last month that executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman shouldn't even consider an offer for Foles unless it includes two first round picks and two second round picks. Let's get real. Foles' playoff run undoubtedly proves that he's worthy of being a starting quarterback. But he also stepped in on a team that was on-pace to be the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs before he ever took a meaningful snap. He also had the best offensive coaching staff in the NFL working with him: Doug Pederson had a better total season in 2017 than any coach in the NFL; former offensive coordinator Frank Reich is now the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and former quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo is now the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator. 

Pointing all of that out isn't meant to discredit Foles, he was incredible during the team's playoff run. There aren't too many people that think Foles' predecessor, Chase Daniel, would have led the Eagles to a Super Bowl title if given the same opportunity. (Heck, he didn't even leave enough of an impact on most people for them to learn that his last name didn't have an s on the end of it.) Foles, after an ugly five quarters to end the regular season, played out of his mind in the team's playoff run, specifically in the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl.  

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But the improbable Super Bowl run that Foles led the Eagles on in Wentz's absence doesn't mean the Eagles should render him untouchable in trade talks. 

Monday, MMQB's Peter King noted that the Eagles had received a "respectable" trade offer for Foles. Geoff Mosher of FanRag Sports also reported Monday that the Eagles were offered a second-round pick earlier this offseason by an unknown AFC team. King noted that the bar appears to be set at the August 2016 Sam Bradford trade, when the Eagles received a first and fourth round pick from the Vikings for Bradford, after Teddy Bridgewater suffered a devastating knee injury shortly before the start of a season in which the Vikings had Super Bowl aspirations. King suggested that it's unlikely the Eagles will receive that type of offer for Foles, which may be what it takes for them to seriously consider moving the 29-year-old. 

Here's the thing about the Bradford trade comparison: it's silly. Sure, there are other examples you can point to of starting quarterbacks going down with season-ending injuries in the summer. There are very few cases of teams that become so desperate after such an injury that they are willing to make a franchise-altering trade. Rick Spielman is a very good general manager. He unquestionably took the L on the Bradford trade.

Most teams are more inclined to ride out a season with their backup quarterback or sign a veteran familiar with their system, like the Miami Dolphins did this season with Jay Cutler after Ryan Tannehill tore his ACL in early August. The Dolphins did have a pretty miserable 2017 season, but they'll get Tannehill back for the 2018 season. They still own all of their draft picks if they want to go in another direction at quarterback. The difference in their situation from the Vikings situation was desperation. Beyond the Vikings belief that they had a chance to win the Super Bowl in the 2016 season, there were some who feared that Bridgewater's knee injury was so bad that he would never play in another NFL game. That prediction proved to be wrong, but it's pretty evident by how the Vikings acted after the injury that they felt that was a distinct possibility. Or they feared – as is still possible – that Bridgewater wouldn't be the same player he was prior to the injury. 

A Bradford-esque offer likely isn't coming for Foles. It's one thing to start out with that as a negotiating point. But if the Eagles get an offer for Foles that includes a first-round pick, they would be foolish not to jump at it. Even one that is headlined by a second round pick and another enticing pick or two should at least be seriously considered. 

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People are making the mistake of viewing this through a one-year lens. Sure, it would be nice for the Eagles to repeat as Super Bowl champions. Foles may play a role in the Eagles attempt to do that, should Wentz not be ready to start the season. Foles may also not take a meaningful snap for the entirety of the 2018 season. As he's proven, he's an incredible insurance policy to have. But is that insurance policy worth more than a first round pick to a team that's thin on high draft picks this year because of the 2016 trade that allowed the Eagles to draft Wentz? Is it worth more than the chance to obtain multiple draft picks to a team that could possibly lose Nigel Bradham, Beau Allen, Trey Burton, Patrick Robinson, Vinny Curry and Torrey Smith this offseason? This may be an oversimplification, but would you rather have Derek Barnett or Nelson Agholor, the team's last two non-Wentz first round picks, for what you hope is a decade, or Foles as an insurance policy for one more season? 

The Eagles, in all likelihood, aren't going to be able to replicate the success that Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have had for the better part of two decades. No other team in NFL history has. But they also probably don't want to follow the Aaron Rodgers plan of winning a Super Bowl early in their franchise quarterback's career, then failing to replenish the team around him. 

Another part of having a view longer than one year is that even if the Eagles retain Foles for next year, that will likely be it. Foles' $7.6 million cap-hit for 2018, though hefty, is manageable. After 2018, however, Foles will be paid as a starting quarterback, wherever he's playing. The Eagles, especially as they push closer to having to sign Wentz to a long-term contract, simply won't be able to afford to pay Foles starting money to be their backup. As much as he seems to enjoy being with the Eagles, Foles may not be interested in remaining as a backup past 2018 if other teams are willing to pay him similar (or more) money to be their starting quarterback. 

If the Eagles went one-and-done in the playoffs, they likely would have jumped at the chance to move Foles for a third or fourth round pick. (Frankly, that offer likely wouldn't have come.) Clearly, the team's Super Bowl run increased Foles' trade value, rather drastically. No one is suggesting the the team give him away. But the crowd suggesting that the team would need to get a record haul to seriously consider moving Foles needs a reality check. 

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