With the benching of quarterback Nick Foles at half time of the Jacksonville Jaguars 28-11 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, many fans have been wondering how the Jaguars can get out from under the $88 million contract the team handed Foles in the offseason.
It seems evident the Jaguars will be going with Gardner Minshew II the rest of the 2019 season, as they should, and there has been a lot of talk about what will happen next season and how the Jaguars should let Foles and Minshew battle it out to be the starter in 2020.
They absolutely should not do this and they should do everything in their power to get out of the contract and Foles off the roster. First of all, quarterback competitions aren’t real. Second, if Foles is on the Jaguars opening day roster, he is going to start. No NFL team is going to sit $22 million on the bench Week 1 of the season at the quarterback position.
The Foles signing was a massive mistake that was not hard to see as a huge risk and the best thing the team can do is realize it’s a sunk cost and move on without him.
Can the Jaguars just cut Nick Foles?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is not really. If the Jaguars just straight up release Foles they will have to eat $33.8 million in dead money in 2020, which they can do, but it severely hampers any other movement, would probably requires some more salary trimming and really is not ideal. It costs them $11 million more to outright release him than it does to keep him on the roster, but as mentioned you’re not going to sit $22 million on the bench.
The team could split the difference and designate him a post-June cut, which would be a dead cap hit of $21.3 million in 2020 and $12.5 million in 2021 and would give them $750,000 in cap relief in 2020. Again though, this is not ideal and probably a worst case scenario.
Can the Jaguars trade Nick Foles?
Yes, the Jaguars absolutely can trade Nick Foles and should be what they aggressively try to do in the offseason. Even with trading Foles you will have to eat some dead money, because of his guarantees, but it’s a lot more manageable than if you’re just cutting him. In a trade, the Jaguars would have to eat $18.5 million in dead money, but would be a net cap relief of about $4 million. The key here is, whatever team is getting Nick Foles in a trade is really only on the hook for his salary, which is not guaranteed and manageable at $15 million.
If the Jaguars really felt like they needed to overall cap relief, they could also designate it a post-June trade, with a dead money hit of $6.25 million and $12.5 million in 2020 and 2021, respectively. This would give the Jaguars a net cap relief in 2020 of $15.8 million.
But, will anyone trade for Nick Foles?
One of the worst things that happened in this whole situation when you evaluate it now, is Foles tanked any trade value he might have had. While it probably wasn’t anything more than maybe a third-rounder prior to him coming back, it’s basically nothing now because he’s been so bad the past three games, especially with the meltdown against the Bucs.
Trading Foles now becomes tricky and you will likely have to engage in a Brock Osweiler type of tactical salary dump. The Houston Texans gave Osweiler a massive contract in the offseason, he stunk, and they then had to give up a second-round pick to the Cleveland Browns in order to dump his salary. It’s likely the Jaguars will have to be in this same type of situation. Foles remaining deal is slightly less than what Osweiler was due in year two, so maybe you will not have to give up a second- and sixth-round pick like the Texans did, but Houston also got the Browns fourth rounder in return.
I think you might be able to get a team, like say the Miami Dolphins or Cincinnati Bengals (teams likely to be drafting a rookie they might not want to start right away, with lots of cap room), for something like a third-round pick. Though the Jaguars do have two first-round picks in 2020, so maybe a second rounder to just be done with it isn’t so bad.
What if Nick Foles retires?
There was a time a short while ago where Foles contemplated retirement, so a lot of fans have wondered if after this failure, maybe Foles just ends up retiring.
Just from a pure salary cap point of view, that would be the best case scenario for the Jaguars. If Foles were to end up retiring, his salary/cap hit would be free and clear going forward. When a player officially retires, they’re added to the reserve/retired list, which means they are not part of the active roster and do not count against the salary cap.
Long story short, it seems like the most likely scenario is the Jaguars will have to end up giving up a mid-round pick to a team willing to take the salary dump this offseason.