As expected, the Eagles exercised Nick Foles' option, only for the quarterback to void the deal. Now, things get interesting.
Or so we're told.
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In truth, the Eagles' attempt to drum up a trade looks like a desperate bluff, and Foles is holding the nut hand.
Suppose the Eagles clear space under the salary cap to keep Foles using the franchise tag, setting up a post-March 13 trade. The trouble with that plan is he doesn't have to sign.
And why would he? Sure, it's an estimated $25 million guaranteed for one year's work. That's still less money overall than Foles would command as a free agent - plus he forfeits the freedom to choose where he plays.
What sounds better: $25 million for one year playing for a team of the Eagles' choosing, or picking from multiple long-term offers potentially worth upwards of $50 million guaranteed?
If you're Foles, who already had a bad experience with a trade; who is 30 and may never have more leverage; who could create a bidding war for his services on the open market; this is an easy decision.
The only recourse the Eagles have in that situation is to apply the tag and sit on Foles' rights until he signs. But is that any way to do business? With a Philly folk hero and franchise legend?
All this so the Eagles might extract a third-round draft pick from some team? Consider the hoops the front office needs to jump through just to get in position to pull this off.
First, the Eagles need to clear the cap space to roster Foles through March 13, the start of the NFL calendar. This means not only releasing and/or restructuring one or more players, but possibly delaying re-signing impending free agents as well. This seems like more trouble than it's worth to net a third.
Then the Eagles need to convince Foles wherever he's going is the right situation for him, which, even if the location is, the contract is not.
The Eagles could be awarded a third if Foles walks, anyway, in the form of a compensatory pick in 2020. As others have noted, this is dependent upon what the club does in free agency, but his signing elsewhere is a net gain for the formula regardless.
So the pick doesn't matter. The only remaining advantage for the Eagles is keeping Foles away from the Giants and Washington.
Who cares? The Eagles are letting Foles go because they believe they have a better quarterback in Carson Wentz. Why is anybody afraid of a career backup staying in the NFC East?
Foles shouldn't allow the Eagles to make that decision for him. If tagged, he should call their bluff. Don't sign it.
What are the Eagles going to do? Leave $25 million in cap dollars waiting for Foles to sign while simultaneously attempting to build a Super Bowl contender? Have a protracted standoff with a franchise legend last into the summer, engendering bad feelings among players and fans? All for a third-round pick and to bar him from the NFC East?
Of course not. Foles holds the cards here. The only aspect of this situation interesting to Eagles fans is watching how quickly the team folds.
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