Vastly improved Cody Kessler could earn roster spot at Clayton Thorson's expense
After every practice, Cody Kessler showers then parks himself in front of his locker stall.
The dressing cubicle is in the middle of the Eagles’ locker room, which means it is temporary. The middle stalls are removed once the roster gets trimmed to 53 players in early September and it is located away from the permanent stalls where the other three quarterbacks dress.
Once seated on the chair in front of his locker, Kessler flips his IPad open and begins looking at that day’s practice.
“I love watching film before we go in - we have meetings all day - so I like watching and critiquing myself and writing some notes down so when I go in there it’s not catching me off guard with the coaches,” said Kessler. “I already know what they’re going to say, so we can have that conversation.”
Kessler looked like the proverbial camp arm when he was signed this spring as the fourth quarterback, just a couple weeks after the Eagles drafted Clayton Thorson in the fifth round.
VIDEO: Cody Kessler loves Philly and wants to stick around
Carson Wentz and Nate Sudfeld aren’t going anywhere and it was just presumed that Thorson would be the third quarterback. It especially looked that way after a spring where Kessler looked lost and struggled mightily.
Well, the tables have turned.
Kessler has looked much better since training camp began. And Thorson, well, he has shown much at all.
“For me, the biggest thing is to learn the offense, but having OTAs and now the whole summer off, to learn everything was very advantageous,” said Kessler. “I thought for me going over everything a second time around has been nice.
“It’s been a really good start, better than it was in OTAs, being out here and not really knowing anything.”
So the thinking here is that Kessler could be the third quarterback on the roster, if the Eagles choose to keep three. Thorson would be waived then added to the practice squad.
The reasoning for that is Sudfeld could very likely be gone at the end of the season. He is on a one-year contract scheduled to pay him just over $3 million. He will be 27 next season and may want to test the free agent waters to see if he can find a situation where he can legitimately compete to be a starter. That clearly won’t happen in Philly with Wentz entrenched through 2024.
If Sudfeld departs, Kessler, who is making the league minimum for someone of his experience of $720,000 would become the No. 2 quarterback in 2020 and Thorson would likely still be around and will have a year of development on his side in the system. Plus, the Eagles could always draft another quarterback next year.
Of course, four preseason games could change things, because both Thorson and Kessler will get plenty of snaps.
“I understand it’s tough being the new guy, learning stuff and trying to compete for a spot,” said Kessler. “I’ve been here a short time and I love it here. I was with Nick Foles for a couple weeks in Jacksonville and he spoke so highly of this place. When I got here, the first week, everything he said held up.
“I was kind of like, I really get what you’re talking about, the camaraderie, the locker room, it’s one of the best I’ve been around… It is somewhere I would love to stay.”
Kessler spent the time between spring’s practices until training camp diving into the playbook.
He knows how to learn quickly, having to master four different offenses since being drafted in the third round by the Cleveland Browns in 2016. He spent two years in Cleveland and the offense changed from his rookie season to his second season. He then went to Jacksonville for a year before arriving with the Eagles on May 13.
“I’ve always been, and it’s kind of how I was raised, if someone beats you out, someone’s more talented, you keep busting your ass, but if they’re better and more talented, as a man, all right you beat me, you got me, but I never want to be someone that says he could’ve been OK, but he could’ve made plays or he could’ve made this team or he could’ve done that, but he didn’t know this or he didn’t know that or he didn’t work hard enough.”
So Kessler watches his IPad, something you rarely see players do when reporters roam the locker room, hoping for a chance to find a home for a while and earn a more permanent locker.