The Philadelphia Eagles dream has ended, the wave of belief that carried them through to a Super Bowl victory last season washed up on the Bayous of New Orleans on Sunday.
The Eagles were a team that looked like they were out of the play-off hunt even before they lost starting quarterback Carson Wentz for the season. All hope would have been lost for most teams. But not Philly. No, the Eagles cheered as once starter Nick Foles took up the reigns of the offense. “Good old Saint Nick” will guide us to the play-offs, and he did.
The Man who stepped up at a similar time last year and took the Eagles all the way – collecting Super Bowl MVP in the process – surely wasn’t going to do it again?
Not this year. Not against this Saints team.
But the real questions to be answered now in Philadelphia is what to do with Nick Foles? Foles was drafted by the Eagles in the third round of the 2012 draft, making his debut later that season, and after a few quick stops in St Louis and Kansas City, he was back in Pennsylvania.
Every team would love to have two quality quarterbacks but can they afford to keep a player who will be paid $20 million next season? Meanwhile, Wentz is still on his rookie contract which is $16m combined for the next two years.
Foles has shown as a starter he can effectively manage the Eagles offense and while they aren’t as explosive as when Wentz is under centre, they look more efficient. Both players’ stats are very comparable and with completion rates over the three years around 64 per cent, and touchdown rates – a percentage of passes that are touchdowns – of 4.8 per cent but, both have also had considerable injury issues.
For me, the smart choice is to re-sign Foles but to keep Wentz, too. Foles left the Eagles once and struggled to find a fit, the fans love him, and he openly talked about how his family love the area. With that in mind, I think Foles may be interested in sticking around Philadelphia, but maybe at a lower salary?
Both teams could reach an accord if it were agreed Philadelphia could trade him – or Wentz – away at some point. There are teams – the Giants and Buccaneers would be good fits – around the league that are desperate for a quarterback, and I think that those teams would give up a third-round or even a second-round draft pick for the chance to work with a proven game winner.
If I was the Eagles general manager, meeting with Foles is priority No 1. If it means working out a list of agreed trade destinations, the move could make a more secure contract for Foles going forward as, unlike in British football, teams take on the player’s previous contract. The Eagles are already projected to be $21m over the salary cap for 2019 but if the plan is to trade Foles that would not be an issue.
The answer is simple. Work with Foles and listen to offers. This way both the player and team come out winners. And of course, if they are that attached, I’m sure one of the other teams would happily trade the Eagles for Wentz too.
The weekend had four games to determine the AFC and NFC finalists and Eagles were in New Orleans to play the Saints in the last match-up.
Saints QB Drew Brees threw deep on the first play, only for it to be intercepted. But New Orleans recovered from 14-0 down to close out a 20-14 win over Foles and the Eagles.
The Kansas City Chiefs refused to let the snow that engulfed Arrowhead Stadium slow them as they comfortably overcame Indianapolis Colts 31-13.
Later on Saturday night, the LA Rams were run close as they took on the Dallas Cowboys. The return of Todd Gurley helped the Rams as he and CJ Anderson – a week-16 addition- rushed for over a 100 yards each – helped hold off the Cowboys.
Sunday started with a blowout that saw Tom Brady and the Patriots reach their eighth AFC Championship in a row and 13th overall. On the day the LA Chargers were poor, and the end scoreline – 41-28- flattered them more than the Patriots.