Not even one month removed from the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory, the Eagles’ front office and coaching staff are already preparing for the long offseason ahead of them. The first step in this process is the NFL Scouting Combine that will be held in Indianapolis this upcoming weekend (March 2nd – 5th). While the Scouting Combine is primarily for the future stars of the NFL to showcase their talent, it’s also the first time that coaches and GMs can speak to the press following the end of the season.
Both coach Doug Pederson and GM Howie Roseman answered questions regarding their team on Wednesday. Obviously, Nick Foles was the focal point of most of those questions. Neither Doug nor Howie gave any real concrete information regarding the Super Bowl MVP. That’s their job though. They don’t want to give their plans away to any other team, so they usually answer these question by giving a lot of general statements. For example, when talking about the possibility of keeping Foles for next season Howie responded by saying, “You know, we’re trying to keep as many good players as possible.” Obviously, you’re going to try and retain your good players, Howie. This doesn’t really say anything about Foles staying; he could’ve said the same thing for players like Jason Peters or Nigel Bradham. This is how a lot of the answers were prefaced for Howie, so it’s our job to read between the lines to figure out what he’s really saying.
Here’s a chunk of Howie’s answer when asked about possibly trading away Foles:
“You know, we’re trying to keep as many good players as possible and you’re talking about a Super Bowl MVP. He’s been unbelievably successful for us. He’s got great character, great leadership.”
“That [quarterback] room is exactly what we’re looking for. We have a franchise quarterback. We have a Super Bowl MVP. We have a young quarterback that we’re excited about as well. That’s kind of how we’re looking at it as we get started in the offseason.”
“We’ve got a lot of areas that we have to address. We’re getting started a little bit behind all these other teams. We know in this league if we don’t get to work and get serious about this, we’re going to get our butt kicked.”
There’s a few things to take away from this. First, while it may seem like Howie is just complimenting Foles in the first section, I take that as Howie trying to sell Foles as a potential franchise QB. Who wouldn’t want, “great character, great leadership,” out of their starting quarterback? Howie’s not just saying those things to be nice — there’s a purpose behind it.
Secondly, Howie loves to gloat about the quarterback’s room they have in place. He also loves to talk about how much potential their third string quarterback, Nate Sudfeld, has. It’s no secret that the organization loves Sudfeld; they signed him to the active roster when another team tried to sign him off their practice squad, and some people really believed Sudfeld had a chance to get playing time in the playoffs if Foles struggled (thank God that never came to fruition). When Howie was asked specifically about Sudfeld, here’s what he had to say:
“Nate Sudfeld has got a tremendous skill set. Not only to potentially be a No. 2 in this league, but we think he’s got upside to develop into a starter. Incredibly smart, athletic. Good frame. Can make all the throws. All you have to do is ask some of our defensive players [facing him when he was playing] on the scout team. We’re excited about him. Even more excited to see him with a full offseason, with our coaching staff, in our offseason program and then through training camp.”
At this point, if you don’t consider Sudfeld as a factor in whether the team keeps Foles, you’re kidding yourself. Not only do they believe that he can become a great backup, they believe he has the ability to become a starter in this league. Sudfeld is clearly more than just a third string quarterback in the Eagles’ eyes. If you don’t see that yet, here’s what former QBs coach, John DeFilippo, said about him after he took the Vikings Offensive Coordinator job:
“Carson and Nick are excellent, but I’m telling you there is a reason why the Eagles held on to Nate, and that’s because he’s going to be a really, really good football player. Why do you think other teams wanted him? Against the Dallas [starters], Nate played fantastic. That kid is going to be a really, really good football player. He’s a really good football player right now. But I am telling you, that kid has a chance to be a really good football player.”
If the Eagles’ front office really likes Sudfeld as much as they say they do, then I don’t see why they wouldn’t feel comfortable trading away Foles.
Trading him away could net the Eagles some much needed draft picks and depth. The way I see it: if the Eagles trade away Foles (who doesn’t play unless Carson gets inured) for a high draft pick who turns out to be an impact player, then that’s a win for the Eagles. Whenever you can trade a backup for a starter, that’s a no-brainer for me. Foles did play outstanding in the playoffs, but I get the sense that coach Pederson and Howie believe that the system they have in place elevated Foles’ game to another level. Not taking anything away from Foles, but he was rarely put in any bad situations and he had three former NFL QBs and an MVP candidate coaching him up every week. It’s hard not to succeed in that environment as a QB. They have a QB-friendly offensive system; just look at what Carson was doing all season before he got hurt. I truly believe that’s why they have so much faith in Nate Sudfeld. They see an enormous amount of potential in him and they have confidence they can mold him into a potential starter if Carson goes down again. I’m not saying that the Eagles are actively shopping Foles to the highest bidder; I just don’t think that possibility is off the table. Honestly, if trading Foles wasn’t a possibility then Howie would’ve just came out and said that. Instead, he gave a long-winded answer that didn’t really answer the question.
I’m interested to see what Howie and company end up doing. My gut feeling: Foles won’t be back with the Eagles next season.