Conor Orr is writing up grades for every major NFL free agency signing here. Below is his grade for new Jaguars QB Nick Foles.
From: Philadelphia Eagles
To: Jacksonville Jaguars
Contract: Four years, $88 million
Breakdown: There’s a lot to like about this move—Jacksonville gets someone more proven under center, and for about $22 million a season, which is Joe Flacco-Eli Manning money. From an administrative standpoint, you probably couldn’t have done much better for a QB you expect to start for the next four seasons, even if there wasn’t a competitive market for his services. Think about it this way: if you low-ball Foles any more, there are probably more attractive destinations to go for high-end backup money, including remaining in Philadelphia. There are also some things you don’t like, though none of which the Jaguars can do much about right now.
Foles was the best and most proven quarterback on the free-agent market this year, and the Jaguars did not spend another season limping offensively with Blake Bortles under center. Nor did they try to go cheap and sample a younger retread. That alone should be considered a victory.
Despite Foles’s stellar performance in the late-season charge and Super Bowl victory on which he led Philadelphia a year ago, the concern is which player the Jaguars will be getting (and what kind of offense coordinator John DeFillipo creates for Foles there). It’s far too simplistic to say that, because DeFillipo was on the Eagles the year they won the Super Bowl, he can create that same system and elevate Foles to that level again.
One thing that’s important to understand: The Eagles were way, way ahead of the curve in 2018—schematically, analytically, institutionally, everything. Having spent so much time studying and adapting an offense to Carson Wentz, their system was marinated not only in the best of Andy Reid-isms, but in the new wave of defender-conflicting offensive plays that now dominate the circuit. Teams are now catching up there. Foles also had another one of his best years at a time when Chip Kelly’s offense was fast and foreign, holding a noticeable advantage over defenses at the time.
You can argue that Jacksonville made the AFC Championship Game as a quarterback-averse offense and that any modicum of steady professionalism there could push them over the edge, but that also depends on a resurgent year from Leonard Fournette and continued stability from their all-star cast on defense. So, this is a bittersweet day for Jaguars fans. Be excited because they’ve pivoted at the most important position on the field. Be cautiously optimistic because it will take a tremendous performance from his supporting cast to make it work.
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