If the Jaguars Were to Trade Nick Foles, Could Chicago Be a Destination?

John Shipley

One of the most pressing questions of the entire offseason for the Jacksonville Jaguars is what 2020 will hold for quarterback Nick Foles. Entering the latter part of January, there is still a lack of clarity on which direction the Jaguars will take with their high-priced veteran.

We have written previously about the options Jacksonville has when it comes to Foles, who signed a four-year, $88 million contract worth more than $45 million in guarantees last March. Jacksonville could give Foles another crack at the starting job, which would be plausible considering he only started four games last season. They could also cut Foles and roll with Gardner Minshew II or a different starting quarterback, but this would amount to Jacksonville having to pay nearly $34 million in dead cap, a massive figure. This is unlikely. 

Of course, a third option is trading Foles. In a trade, the Jaguars would save more than $3 million in cap space, while amounting to a $18.75 dead cap hit. This isn't ideal, obviously, but it is more reasonable than cutting Foles and his bloated contract.

But the question is, and will continue to be, what teams would be interested in trading for Foles? Jacksonville could always attach a pick to a Foles trade for cap relief, similar to what the Houston Texans did with Brock Osweiler in 2017 when they sent him and a second-round pick to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for the Browns helping to pay some of Osweiler's deal. 

There is also the factor of whether some teams have any connections to Foles and would want him to actually be in their 2020 plans aside from helping them score draft picks. 

Yesterday, the Chicago Bears made yet another addition to their coaching staff when they hired former Jaguars' offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. DeFilippo will be tasked with helping struggling quarterback Mitch Trubisky improve, but the move also creates a connection between the Jaguars and Bears. 

The Bears now have three coaches on their staff who have extensive connections to Foles. These aren't connections which are simply coincidental and insignificant either, as each coach played big roles in Foles' career.

DeFilippo was Foles' quarterbacks coach with the Philadelphia Eagles during the Eagles' 2017 Super Bowl run. The presence of DeFilippo was then instrumental in the Jaguars' pursuit of Foles, with the former play-caller designing his entire playbook around Foles due to his past with the passer. 

Meanwhile, Bears' head coach Matt Nagy has a great relationship with Foles, with the two having high praise for one another publicly. Nagy, of course, was the Kansas City Chiefs' offensive coordinator in 2016 when Foles was Kansas City's backup quarterback. Foles notably considered retirement after the 2015 season, but his year in Kansas City helped him rejuvenate his career. Nagy was instrumental in this. 

Nagy was also an offensive quality control coach with the Eagles during Foles' rookie season in 2012, a smaller connection but another one to note. 

Then there is Bears' offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who was Foles' quarterbacks coach with the Eagles in 2013, Foles' best entire season as a starter. Foles threw 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions that year, and Lazor's work with him played a notable part in it. 

Aside from the fact the Bears now have a coaching staff full of people who have worked closely with Foles, they also have a quarterback question of their own. Trubisky is at a crossroads in his career after a poor third season, and the Bears could be looking for insurance in case the inconsistent passer flounders in 2020. Foles would make sense as a backup to start the season who gets the nod if Trubisky isn't getting the job done. 

Of course, it needs to make financial sense for the Bears. According to Spotrac.com, the Bears are estimated to have about $20 million in cap space in 2020, good for 26th in the league. If they traded for Foles, Jacksonville would be on the hook for the majority of his deal due to his guaranteed signing bonus, while Foles would be due about $15 million in 2020 salary, with the team trading for him having a reasonable out after 2020. 

Whether the Bears would want to take on this financial obligation is one thing. But their connections to Foles, and need for a quarterback, are obvious. 

However, the Bears could always remain steadfast in their commitment to Trubisky and choose to not pour valuable resources into an insurance plan. But if they do want to get creative with their quarterback room, the Foles connections make enough sense to warrant it. It just remains to be seen if there would be any interest between the two sides to strike a deal.

Comments (3)
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Interesting-- for clarity, currently the Bears have no contractual commitment to Trubisky beyond 2020. If they decide to pick up his 5th year option in May that guarantees him more than $25M in salary for 2021. Rather than remain committed, they are at a decision point with Trubisky this off-season.

The most written about Bears QB option- due to Bill Lazor's most recent role with the Bengals- is Andy Dalton, who has a less attractive contract (for the Bears) than Foles. Dalton's 2020 salary is higher and his contract ends after the season.