Which Teams Could be in the Nick Foles Trade Market?
After Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone announced Monday that rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II would start the rest of this season in place of highly-paid veteran Nick Foles, questions began about Foles' future in Jacksonville.
Foles signed the largest contract in Jaguars' history in March, agreeing to a four-year deal worth $88 million with $50.125 million in guarantees. The massive contract said one thing: Foles is the Jaguars' quarterback for the long-term. There was no other way around it.
Things have taken a drastic turn since then. Minshew, a rookie sixth-round pick who the team hoped to develop into a dependable backup, has proven to the Jaguars' coaching staff that he is a better option at quarterback for today and potentially for tomorrow.
Foles went down with a clavicle injury in the season opener, leading to Minshew starting the next eight games and winning half of them. Foles got his job back when he was healthy in Week 11 but only lasted 10 quarters before his poor play, which included costly turnovers on the Jags first three possessions in Sunday's loss at home to the Bucs, led to Doug Marrone putting in Minshew.
This will make it hard to switch back to Foles, barring injury, and with a prohibitive contract, it's also going to be hard to move him. The confidence in his ability to lead the offense is largely gone and it's becoming clear he is not the best quarterback for this team.
So with Foles' future now in doubt, the best route to go could be to find a trade partner to take Foles and his massive contract off of Jacksonville's hands. Jacksonville could save money by trading Foles by June 1, dealing with $18.75 million in dead cap but earning back $3.125 million. By comparison, if the team outright cuts Foles after this season, he has a dead cap hit of an astronomical $33.8 million.
A trade is complicated since Foles' poor play this season has killed any value he might have. The only way to trade Foles might be to do a Brock Osweiler-type trade like the Houston Texans did in 2017, sending Osweiler and his massive contract to the Cleveland Browns, but including a second-round pick to go with it. The Browns took on the contract, but Houston had to give up a premium pick to make it happen.
So, which teams could be in the Nick Foles market for an Osweiler-type trade after this season concludes?
The Dolphins are the obvious choice considering the drastic rebuild they are in. They have shown this year that they value high draft picks above all else, dealing young and talented players like Laremy Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick for first-round choices. Like the Browns in 2017, they are likely willing to find creative ways to get even more draft picks.
Per Spoctrac.com, the Dolphins have $108,026,456 in total cap space in 2020, so they can easily handle Foles' massive contract, which has $15 million already guaranteed for 2020. Miami would have no real use for Foles as a starter, but they could leverage Jacksonville to send either a second-round pick or one of its two first-round picks for Miami's lowest first-round pick.
Like the Dolphins, the Colts organization has shown a penchant for valuing draft picks above all else under the leadership of general manager Chris Ballard. Dealing Foles plus a high draft pick within the AFC South would be unconventional, but the Colts have the financial flexibility to shoulder Foles' contract.
Per Spoctrac, the Colts have an estimated $108,934,781 in total cap space heading into the 2020 offseason, the most in the NFL. Ballard will certainly spend some of that money on players like T.Y. Hilton and Ryan Kelly, but the Colts should still have more than enough room to fit in Foles' contract as long as Jacksonville sends a premium pick. Helping the Colts out via the draft would be unfortunate, but they are one of the teams most equipped to trade for Foles.
The Cardinals currently have one of the greatest financial advantages in all of sports: a starting quarterback who is on a rookie contract. With Kyler Murray making small change relative to other starting quarterbacks on their second contracts, the Cardinals can afford to take on Foles' contract, and adding draft picks would benefit them since they could continue to build around Murray, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Arizona has a projected $78,215,625 in cap space heading into 2020 according to Spoctrac, so they could afford the Foles contract even if they continue to try to add free agents around Murray. Jacksonville could offer additional relief by potentially continuing to pay for some of Foles' contract.