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Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles is all the rage these days. Such is life as a Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
Foles was magnificent in the Eagles 41-33 win over the New England Patriots on Sunday night, throwing for 373 yards and three touchdowns, even catching a fourth. The legend of Foles really began in Week 14 though, when he was forced to take over under center after franchise quarterback Carson Wentz saw his season come to a frustrating end when he tore his ACL in a win over the Los Angeles Rams. Nationally, it looked like the Eagles season was over then and there – Foles had other plans.
Under the 29-year-old’s guidance, Philadelphia won two of their final three regular-season games and locked up the NFC’s top seed in the playoffs. Then as underdogs in postseason matchups with Atlanta in the divisional round and Minnesota in the conference championship, Foles put together a pair of impeccable quarterback performances to propel the Eagles to the Super Bowl. He obviously saved enough magic for Sunday’s win over the Patriots, as he wound up being named Super Bowl MVP.
Now, the question NFL teams face heading into the offseason is whether this run of brilliance was Foles – who’s spent most of his career as a backup – simply catching lightning in a bottle or legitimate evidence that he should be a starting quarterback in this league? In a what have you done for me lately NFL, Philadelphia will push the latter narrative in an effort to sell high and quarterback-needy teams will buy. They always do.
Naturally, one of the fanbases riding front-seat on the Foles wave is the Bills mafia, who have longed for a franchise quarterback in Buffalo since Jim Kelly retired in 1996. And with Tyrod Taylor’s future in Buffalo up in the air, the Bills certainly fall into the category of “quarterback-needy.” Foles could be the man for the job and if Bills fans have their way he will be. But is he actually worth pursuing this offseason? Let’s take a look…
Despite murmurings that the Eagles may feel hard-pressed to retain Foles, they’d be foolish to not listen to offers for the six-year vet. Outside of his sky-high value – which we’ll get to – one reason they may consider moving on from Foles is that he’ll be a free agent following the 2018 season. With no guarantee he’ll be back in the City of Brotherly Love beyond next season, it would be wise to get something for him while he’s still under their control. Foles signed a two-year, $11 million contract to rejoin the Eagles last offseason, after contemplating retirement. The deal includes $5 million in incentives and a $6 million escalator, as well. This past campaign Foles counted $1.6 million against the cap and this upcoming season his cap hit would be $7.6 million; a figure made up of a $4 million base salary, a $600,000 roster bonus and a $3 million roster bonus due on March 18. Now, if the Eagles do opt for trading Foles, they’ll likely look for suitors prior to that roster bonus kicking in, because then it becomes his new team’s problem. Trading Foles before that roster bonus is owed would leave Philly on the hook for a mere $2.4 million – what remains of his prorated signing bonus – while that hypothetical new team would pay Foles $7 million. In retrospect that’s a bargain for the recently anointed Super Bowl MVP, a point that the Eagles will surely emphasize in trade talks.
Foles’ stock has never been higher than it is right now. During the Eagles Super Bowl run, Foles completed more than 72-percent of his passes, threw for 971 yards, six touchdowns and one flukey interception that wasn’t his fault. He posted a 115.7 quarterback rating as well. Philadelphia will be using those numbers to their advantage in any potential trade. Where teams will be weary is in deciphering how much of that was Foles talent and how much of that was Doug Pederson maximizing Foles’ abilities with his scheming. The aforementioned contract comes into play here as well. Working against the Eagles is that Foles is in the final year of his contract. Teams trading for Foles may want a guarantee that he’ll sign long-term. Working in favor of the Eagles though is that the 29-year-old only carries that $7 million cap hit. Both of those factors will play into any trade negotiations. So what’s it gonna take to swing a deal for Foles? Assuming Philadelphia would be after draft capital, a second-round pick seems like a reasonable price to pay. If you’re thinking that’s too steep, remember that this is a quarterback-driven league and that teams always pay up for recent success.
Whether or not the Bills should trade for Nick Foles is a complicated question to answer. After watching the Super Bowl MVP play out of his mind over the last month it’s easy to be infatuated. But what version of Foles is a team going to be receiving? The one we watched light it up in three separate playoff games for Philadelphia? Or the one that fizzled out in his first stint with the Eagles, then the Rams in 2015 and then rode the bench behind Alex Smith in Kansas City? That’s the dilemma any team inquiring about him must weigh. Regardless, Foles is the flavor of the month and will have plenty of suitors. My guess is Buffalo will be one of them. Foles to the Bills makes a ton of sense. All indications are that Buffalo will move on from Tyrod Taylor this offseason and, from a passing standpoint, Foles is an upgrade at the position at more than half the cost. Additionally, since Bills have two second-round picks, parting ways with one for a veteran QB is a pretty modest alternative to trading a plethora of picks to move up in the first round to draft one. And while Foles probably isn’t the long-term answer at quarterback he could at least provide some stability as a rookie develops, or for Sean McDermott to use this upcoming draft to bolster the roster and worry about finding a franchise QB later. Obviously, committing to another stopgap quarterback is not necessarily what the fans want to see, but Foles proved this year that with a good roster, he can deliver. Plus, with both of Buffalo’s first-round picks falling in the bottom third of the order, moving up to select one of the top rookies will be costly. Foles is a realistic and affordable option for Buffalo.
So what’s your verdict? Do you want the Bills to pursue Nick Foles?