PHILADELPHIA - Guaranteed money is all that counts when it comes to NFL contracts.
Jalen Hurts got a different guarantee from Howie Roseman and the Philadelphia Eagles, however, when the organization agreed to move back in the 2021 draft: a small window to prove he’s a legitimate starting quarterback.
The Eagles fall back to No. 12 in the first round while also acquiring a fourth-round pick (No. 123 overall), and a 2022 first-round pick from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for the sixth overall selection and a 2021 fifth-round pick (No. 156 overall). The deal potentially has many layers to it but no player will have more impact on the ultimate fallout of the move than Hurts.
The second-year former Alabama and Oklahoma standout has already been hard at work trying to seize his position as the Eagles' QB1, often toiling with personal tutor Quincy Avery or getting some of his younger receivers together to build some chemistry in advance of whatever offseason work is coming.
The old-school adage opines that if you have to advertise your work-ethic you’re doing it wrong but much of this new Zoomer generation of athletes take to social media to publicize their work habits because they've been coached how to act by their representatives or marketing people.
Any Sixers fan can tell you there is an overly-produced part to the modern athlete’s social-media presence designed to push a public-relations narrative after watching Ben Simmons draining threes in YouTube clips during multiple offseasons only to eschew the shots when they come in real action.
The good news with Hurts is that all indications point to him being the real deal when it comes to putting in the time, whether it’s honing his mechanics with Avery or building relationships and defining his natural leadership skills by embracing Jalen Reagor or Greg Ward.
The only thing that ever matters, in the end, is the product between the lines, however.
Hurts’ opportunity as a former second-round pick not tagged originally as a future franchise player is the 2021 season, and the results of the experiment could range from a one-year bridge to his first campaign as a 10-year starter.
Most outside the NovaCare Complex will be caught up on numbers and wins but the Eagles enter this process with eyes wide open and will be grading on a curve designed to identify whether Hurts has the skill set, processing skills, and mental toughness to handle a job description that quite frankly broke Carson Wentz.
The Eagles didn’t punt on the 2021 season by trading back.
Flipping the field took place when the organization decided to eat $33.8 million by trading Wentz in a year where there was a pandemic-shortfall in revenue.
It’s not tanking but it is an evaluation period coined by Jeffrey Lurie as a transition. The Eagles have now essentially officially started the clock on 12 months for Hurts to prove he’s the guy to lead the team post-transition.
What Roseman bought in the trade with Miami is insurance in case Hurts falters.
If the former Heisman runner-up doesn’t prove he’s an NFL-level starter, the Eagles will now have all the ammunition in the world to pivot to the next in line be it in the 2022 draft or on the trade market.
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Monday and Thursday on The Middle with Eytan Shander, Harry Mayes, former Eagles OT Barrett Brooks streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and SportsMap Radio. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.