• Once again the Eagles’ veteran backup is taking over for an injured Carson Wentz down the stretch, hoping to create more late-season magic—and maybe audition for free agency. A strong finish could make it hard for Philly to let go of its Super Bowl winning quarterback, especially given Wentz’s injury history
By Conor Orr
December 21, 2018

Welcome to QB Stock Watch, our series analyzing the league’s most difficult, and intriguing, quarterback decisions to be made for 2019 and beyond. This week: Nick Foles of the 7-7 Eagles.

Current contract situation: Foles is in the final year of a two-year, $11 million deal signed in March of 2017, though that contract has since had some sweeteners added given his performance in last year’s playoffs and Super Bowl run. Despite some offseason interest, the Eagles were hell-bent on holding on to their prized backup given that Carson Wentz was coming off an ACL injury suffered late in the 2017 season. Now, Foles is again starting with the Eagles’ season on the line. He already helped lead them to a win over the juggernaut Rams in Los Angeles (the same place where Wentz’s season ended a year ago) and significantly upped Philly’s chances of making it back to the postseason.

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2018 season: Foles started the first two games in September for Wentz while he was finishing up his ACL recovery, going 1-1 on 54-of-82 passing for 451 yards, one touchdown and one interception. It created the sort of strange atmosphere that can only exist in Philadelphia—by the end of Foles’ first 2018 regular-season stint, fans were clamoring for the versatility, escapability and cannon arm of Wentz. But by the time Wentz’s season was coming to an end, many in Eagles country were yearning for the more balanced offense piloted by Foles during last year’s playoff run. Foles proved in early 2018 that he is more than capable of being an every-day starter in the right offense, and he should have a suitor in the market this offseason for a full-time gig.

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What to expect for the rest of the season: Well, Eagles players are literally praying to Foles as if he is a deity. The win over the Rams evoked some strange emotions for a team already aware of what it’s like to play with unseen forces at their backs. They have two games remaining, against the Texans at home and Washington on the road. Winning both would bolster their chances, though they’d still need some help from the Seahawks and Vikings, or the Cowboys plummeting in the type of free-fall that would get everyone at the Star in Frisco fired. I view it as an audition of sorts for Foles; a chance to show teams that his middling numbers from September 2018 were the product of an offense that was still trying to reconfigure on a larger scale, having lost 2017 coordinator Frank Reich to the Colts in the offseason, and on a micro scale with myriad personnel shifts made between the Super Bowl and the start of 2018.

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Will Foles be with the Eagles next season? Probably not. Entering his eighth season, Foles will likely join Teddy Bridgewater, Joe Flacco and a handful of other capable, pro-style starters and hit the market before a draft that isn’t expected to contain many right-away NFL starters. While his off-field interests are significant and pronounced, it’s unclear what that means for his vision of the future. He enjoyed the mentoring role behind Wentz enough that he didn’t fight and claw his way out of Philadelphia after the Super Bowl. Perhaps he’ll gravitate toward a similar situation this offseason. That being said, Wentz’s back injury is still a major unknown, and if Foles somehow leads the Eagles on another scamper through the playoffs, it would cause the fan base to melt down if they let Foles go. These next few weeks will certainly complicate a developing picture.

Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.

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