- Foles is the best quarterback available on the market this season, but he comes with questions—notably, is his up-and-down career trajectory a product of his coaching or of his game?
Throughout the next several weeks, we’ll be assessing the market on some of the best free agents set to come available on March 14. Beyond scheme fit, these decisions will be impacted by available finances, team thoughts on current draft prospects and perception of value vs. actual value. We’ll try and parse through those ideas here.
Player: Nick Foles
2018 Salary: $12 million
2018 Statistics: 141-of-195, 1,413 yards, seven touchdowns, four interceptions (Foles bookended the season as Philadelphia’s starting quarterback as Carson Wentz recovered from a torn ACL and, subsequently, dealt with an injured back).
Why he’s a top-tier free agent: The Super Bowl LII MVP may be one of the most unique quarterbacks to ever hit free agency. Foles’s uneven career trajectory, with his blip under coach Jeff Fisher marking one of his worst seasons, is an example of how disastrous a poor scheme or bad team can be to a quarterback early in his career. Foles made the Pro Bowl in 2013, his second season, under the tutelage of Chip Kelly, throwing 27 touchdowns to just two interceptions, and averaging more than 10 yards per attempt—his 119.2 passer rating that year was the third best of all time for a single season, behind just Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers. And his stunning emergence in 2017 as the team’s savior amid a late-season Carson Wentz injury, and pair of strong playoff and Super Bowl performances show that he is certainly worthy of consideration as a top-tier quarterback.
Risks involved: Is Foles a great quarterback, or is he a good quarterback who caught a wave while playing under two of the most groundbreaking offensive coaches of the last 10 years? While Kelly is an NFL punch line now, his tempo-based offense early in his career had other teams scrambling. Similarly, the combination of analytic play designs and the integration of certain run-pass option concepts under Doug Pederson greatly boosted an Eagles offense and gave it new life. Obviously Foles is talented, and his time hiking the team onto his back and lifting them into two different playoff races in two years is experience no quarterback can simulate. He is the best free agent available at the position, and so long as you’re willing to pay—another big if—he’ll come aboard and provide an instant upgrade over a mid-level starter.
Market prospects: Reports are that it is down to Jacksonville. The move makes sense in that it pairs Foles with the quarterbacks coach from his Super Bowl season, new Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo. Denver trading for Joe Flacco took them out of the market. Washington, meanwhile, is going to do what they do and confuse the hell out of the rest of the NFL. If Josh Rosen is available, he’s the only true game-changer to this market right now, should a team prefer someone with a little more upside in terms of age and controlled rookie salary.
Potential destinations: Jacksonville, Washington, N.Y. Giants
Joe Flacco: Three years, $66.4 million / $22.133 million APY / $62 million total guarantees.
Eli Manning: Four years, $84 million / $21 million APY / $65 million total guarantees
Ryan Tannehill: Four years, $77 million / $19,250,000 APY / $11.6 million total guarantees
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