As we head into Wild Card Weekend in the NFL, a lot of the talk among Jacksonville Jaguars fans has now naturally shifted to the quarterback position. With the team expected to move on from Blake Bortles this offseason, fans and media alike wonder what the team is going to do at the quarterback position. Two veteran options that keep cropping up are Joe Flacco, who is likely to be released by the Baltimore Ravens, and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.
Personally, I think the best course of action for the Jaguars is to sign someone like Tyrod Taylor and identify a quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft and moving to get them.
However, there has been a lot of discussion about Foles since he once again saved the Eagles season once Carson Wentz went down with a back injury. Foles has a player option on his contract this offseason and the Eagles are projected to be about $13 million over the cap, so the expectation is that Foles will void his deal and hit the open market, with a handful of teams looking for solutions at quarterback.
I don’t mind Nick Foles. If that is the route the Jaguars decide to take, so be it, however... there is a big reason why Foles doesn’t seem all that feasible for the Jaguars specifically, and that’s the financial side. The main argument for Foles is that the Jaguars brass right now has a “win now” edict from owner Shad Khan, so the cost can be a concern for the next regime if they crash and burn.
The problem with that line of thought however is that it also hurts you in the right now and could potentially be damaging going forward to the long term success. This isn’t because Foles isn’t any good per se, but I think Foles has a situation around him that helps him he wouldn’t have here.
First, the biggest stumbling block for me is the cost. Nick Foles is not going to be cheap, even in a slow free agent market for his services. Look around the league at what starting quarterbacks are getting paid. Sam Bradford signed a one-year, $15 million deal last year. Blake Bortles signed a 3-year, $54 million deal last year. That Bortles contract by the way, plus say 20 percent, is likely going to be the extreme low starting point for what a Foles deal is going to look like. Average quarterbacks make about $20 million per year in the current NFL and if you’re one of the people who scoffed at paying Kirk Cousins $25 million per or more last season because you were worried you wouldn't be able to re-sign played like Jalen Ramsey or Yannick Ngakoue, then I’ve got some bad news.
I was fine with giving Kirk Cousins a big deal last season, in lieu of keeping Bortles or drafting a quarterback, knowing that you were going to pay big money in the first two seasons. I still think that would have been the better option, but even-so, doing it last year would have let you manipulate the salary cap to make things work down the line. Doing so this year with someone like Foles makes it that much harder, in large part because you’re already committing $16.5 million to the cap in dead money with Bortles.
Now, you could do something with Foles like a nice signing bonus with the cap hits on the back end with a lower cap hit in 2019, but how much maneuverability will you really have and is Foles the kind of quarterback you do that for? Then, you’re still looking to address spots like receiver, tight end and offensive line. Are those all going to be rookies and expected to contribute to winning right now? Or do you trim even more salary from the defense to make offensive signings?
Right now Nick Foles is working with Doug Pederson, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Algholor, Golden Tate, Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. If he comes to Jacksonville he’s going to be working with [unknown offensive coordinator name], Marqise Lee coming off an ACL, Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole, DJ Chark, and who knows at tight end. I heard fans and media all season scream the surroundings weren’t good enough and someone like Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady would struggle to have success.
If that’s the case, how will Nick Foles? Is adding a receiver or offensive lineman with the seventh overall pick going to push the skill position players over the top?
I think Foles is a solid, average NFL quarterback but he’s not a quarterback who is going to elevate those around him on a consistent basis. If you’re going to do what it takes to get him in free agency, that’s what you’re going to want from him.
Again, if Foles is the route they choose, that’s fine and I don’t blame them for taking the quick-fix swing, but I just don’t see how it becomes feasible in the short or long term. The 2019 season is likely going to be a punt, in regards to making the playoffs anyway, so just eat it with a rookie quarterback and surround them with as much talent as you can.
I’d even say that making the playoffs with this defense and a rookie quarterback in 2019 isn’t even a pipe dream but a possibility.