The overwhelming offseason story so far for the Jacksonville Jaguars is what they’re going to do at the quarterback position and why they’re the most likely landing spot for could-be-free-agent quarterback Nick Foles. For now, it’s assumed that the Jaguars are the front runners to land Foles, be it via trade or signing him as a true free agent, but the closer we get to actual free agency the less I personally think that will happen and the more I begin to think it would be a huge mistake.
I’ll preface this all by saying if the Jaguars do end up signing Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles in free agency, I totally understand the thought process behind it and will give it a chance to play out. I certainly don’t believe Nick Foles is a bad quarterback or a horrible option for a team in need of one, my reservation is that I feel that we’re overvaluing Foles currently because of the landscape of the position.
How good is Foles, actually?
Foles is coming off another season where he “rescued” the Eagles when Carson Wentz suffered an injury, and it feels like Foles has some kind of magic or “it factor” about him. He’s a Super MVP after all, right?
The reality for me is, if you evaluate Nick Foles in a vacuum, he’s just a mediocre quarterback with a lot of variance in his career. He’s 26-18 as a starter in the NFL, buoyed by an 8-2 and 6-2 start with Chip Kelly back in 2013 and 2014, however beyond that he’s been very mediocre. He had the incredible 2013 season that ended up being mostly smoke and mirrors, crashing back down to Earth the next few seasons.
He moved on to the then St. Louis Rams and started 11 games and was pretty abysmal, but to be fair everyone playing under Jeff Fisher in his final days in the NFL looked putrid. I remember when Nick Foles started for the Kansas City Chiefs against the Jaguars back in 2016 and he was awful, though the Chiefs still ended up winning despite treating the game like a fourth preseason game.
He came in for the Eagles and helped them win games to make the playoffs, eventually win the Super Bowl and save their season last year. It wasn’t just Foles going out there and putting the team on his back a lot of the time however, and this past season he needed a fluky double-doink field goal to keep the magic alive. He’s a quarterback who in the right situation with the right pieces around him can help you win games, mostly by not losing them in big moments. That is a trait to be desired though, it goes without saying.
I feel like going after and paying Foles is going to end up similarly to say like when the Minnesota Vikings let Case Keenum walk and the Denver Broncos snapped him up. Keenum was in a good situation for him, was able to manage games and make some plays, but then when he moved to a team that didn’t have a good offensive structure/playmakers around him he turned into a pumpkin. Just like Blake Bortles did after they thought they figured out the formula and not everything was perfect... rotting pumpkin. I get the same feeling with Foles in that the Eagles are just a great situation for him, whereas coming to Jacksonville that’s not going to be the case considering what they have offensively.
While I think Foles is a solid quarterback, I think he falls into the mess of quarterbacks who are the ones who are not going to absolutely mess things up for you, but also isn’t going to be the one to consistently elevate those around him. You don’t find those on the open market often and with that being said, there are other alternatives to Foles out there. I don’t know that Foles is that much better than someone like Case Keenum, Tyrod Taylor or Ryan Tannehill or if he’s just been in much better situations with the Eagles.
People get lost in magic
The biggest thing I notice when discussing if Nick Foles is the right option for the Jaguars is that people get lost in chasing the dragon. I don’t mean to equate desire for a quarterback with opioid abuse, but it does feel like trying to obtain that perfect high that you cannot ever replicate. Foles was indeed a Super Bowl MVP and made some sensational plays, but there’s a long list of one-hit wonder Super Bowl MVPs and playoff magic makers than did absolutely nothing else in their careers.
Even this post season where Foles kept the Eagles season alive, he was kind of super mediocre. He’d go for long stretches where he was just not effective and couldn’t hit open passes. As I mentioned previously, the Eagles by all accounts should have lost to the Chicago Bears Wild Card weekend, but were kept alive by a rare double-doink field goal. To give Foles credit, he did drive the Eagles from midfield to the go-ahead touchdown late in the game, but for most of the night he was just flat out not playing well.
The next week the magic looked like it was back with the Eagles jumping to a 14-0 lead, but just like for much of the Chicago game, the Eagles offense and Foles went cold for basically the rest of the game. That’s been kind of the story on Foles for his career, too. He runs hot or cold. He’s been consistently inconsistent. Now, to his defense, his cold runs aren’t like Blake Bortles cold runs where it feels like you have absolutely no chance to win the game and it’s a total disaster, but they’re still cold runs.
The way people romanticize Foles as the MVP gives you this vision of a guy who came in and put the Eagles on his back and drug them to victory when that’s not the case at all.
Foles will be a commitment
As I said before, if the Jaguars do commit to Nick Foles I understand why and I’ll be willing to let it play out, but that’s another part of the reservation for me. Foles will be a commitment. He is not going to be someone you sign to a short-term type of deal. If you sign Foles, it’s going to be in the realm of a five-year deal where the first two or three years are fully guaranteed. This is his one shot at a pay-day, so even if the market is thin, I don’t think he’s going to agree to a below market deal regardless of how much people say he’s not in it for the money.
Foles is your guy for the foreseeable future. You’re not going to be picking a quarterback in the NFL Draft during the first few rounds in 2019 and probably not in 2020. At least, you’d hope not in 2020 because that means the Foles experiment was a failure. Foles also limits how you can add pieces to your team going forward and this offseason, even with the gutting of some of the salary we expect the Jaguars will be doing. Committing to him actually doesn’t make it impossible, but does put some strain on keeping a lot of the young defensive players you want to keep and what you can do going forward in free agency. Once you commit to a quarterback contract, that’s your window.
I just don’t feel confident that Foles is that kind of answer or that much better than some of the other veteran options that will cost significantly less and not force a long-term commitment, leaving the door open to the most typical way you find a quarterback, which is drafting them in the first round be it in 2019 or 2020. Now, if the market isn’t actually there for Foles and he’s willing to take a contract in the realm of mid-teens, then it’s worth the risk.