- Herbert’s decision to forego the 2019 NFL draft and play for Oregon one more year has set off a chain reaction on the quarterback market, starting with Foles.
Oregon QB Justin Herbert, thought by many to be the top quarterback taken in April’s NFL draft, announced Wednesday that he intends to stay in school for his senior season instead of heading to the NFL in 2019.
The move has started a chain reaction, as quarterbacks like Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, Missouri’s Drew Lock and Duke’s Daniel Jones should all see their draft stocks increased—and Haskins could see himself become a top-five pick. And while Oklahoma QB and Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray has stated his intention to play baseball, ticking up a bit in the NFL draft could help make the decision that much harder.
But there’s a chain reaction felt in the NFL, too. Quarterback-needy teams just saw their supply shrink in what’s already thought to be a down year for signal callers in the draft. That means more competition for free-agent quarterbacks, and no one will be impacted in a more positive way (at least financially) than Philadelphia QB Nick Foles.
Foles, of course, is not assured to be a free agent in 2019, but as our Andrew Brandt laid out Wednesday, all signs point to him not playing with the Eagles under the contract that he and the team would have to mutually agree to in the coming months. But let’s look at his competition in the market this spring.
There are three categories, and clearly a Super Bowl MVP (and Philly’s possible leader in consecutive postseasons) would be at the top. In the first tier (good and available quarterbacks) would be Tyrod Taylor and Teddy Bridgewater. Next up (the probably used-up quarterbacks but still useful for some starts) are Josh McCown and Ryan Fitzpatrick. And in the final tier (quarterbacks who will likely be no longer wanted where they are today) are Joe Flacco, Blake Bortles and Ryan Tannehill.
With Herbert out of the picture, the price for Foles is going up. From singularly a financial standpoint, there’s no reason for Foles to opt into this $20 million deal, even if the Eagles were to pick it up. He’ll be going into his age-30 season playing the best ball of his career in an era where quarterbacks can play up to and into their 40s. The deal has no security past 2019. And finally, the $20 million is low. Though that number was reasonable when they reached the deal eight months ago, I would argue he’s already surpassed that with a 3–1 record this season coming off the bench as a starter. And he would only blow that number out of the water with a modicum of postseason success.
In 2018, 15 quarterbacks had an annual salary of at least $20 million. Nine have never won a Super Bowl, and seven have never played in a Super Bowl. Foles’s 2017 season was an outlier because of his situation, but he’s come back to beat a fully healthy Falcons team in Week 1 and keep the Eagles’ playoff hopes alive with wins against the playoff-bound Rams and Texans this month.
Foles may want to stay in Philadelphia. He may look to go be a starter where he considers it a perfect fit. He may not turn his free agency into an auction. All of those things can happen, but Foles’ play, in this market, dictates his worth is much more than the $20 million he could get in 2019.
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I never got into Seinfeld so I only know Julia Louis-Dreyfus from Veep. This New Yorker profile of the actress as she fights cancer and Hollywood’s sexism is a must-read.
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