It looks as if the Eagles must make a decision regarding Nick Foles by the second week of February, and as emotional as this might be, it is highly likely the decision will be to have him fly the coop, either in free agency (the most probable scenario) or via a trade.
This is where the Giants come in. If they are interested in moving on from Eli Manning with Foles — there is no hint of that being the case, but you never know — the chances of the Eagles shipping him to the Giants within the NFC East are somewhere between never and not ever. If Foles hits the open market, the Giants, if they are so inclined, must know it would cost about the same or perhaps even more to sign the soon-to-be 30-year-old Foles as it would to keep Manning, 38, on the roster in 2019.
“I like the idea of Foles, I think he would be a great bridge quarterback,” SiriusXM football analyst Greg McElroy, who won a national championship as quarterback at Alabama, told The Post recently. “He’s shown the ability to play well if surrounded by a capable supporting cast. When he’s struggled was when he was with a group that didn’t have elite talent around him.
“Clearly the Giants have weapons. Also, knowing the offensive line for New York, it’s better, but it’s certainly not a position of strength. So maybe you’d have to get a guy who is a little more mobile. Foles is not overly mobile but probably more mobile than Eli is at this point in his career. I still think the franchise guy is going to have to come by way of the draft.”
Finding Manning’s successor in the NFL draft — the Giants have the No. 6 pick and Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State is rated as the top quarterback — is the more logical option. They could keep Manning at a reduced salary-cap price, find a way to get Haskins and have a veteran-rookie quarterback situation in 2019, much the way the Chiefs had Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes in 2017.
Last season, Foles took over for the injured Carson Wentz and stunned the city of Philadelphia and everywhere else by carrying the Eagles to the first Super Bowl triumph in franchise history, winning MVP honors for his work against the Patriots. This past season, Foles again was forced to sub for an injured Wentz and won three straight games to get the Eagles into the playoffs then tossed the winning touchdown pass in the final minute of a wild-card game to beat the Bears in Chicago. The music stopped for Foles and the Eagles in Sunday’s 20-14 loss in New Orleans.
The Eagles cannot keep Foles because he has a $20 million option if he is on the roster in 2019, and coach Doug Pederson has already decreed Wentz — even though he has not shown the ability to stay healthy and on the field — is the quarterback of the present and future.
If the Eagles pick up the option, Foles can pay $2 million to the Eagles to get out of the contract, and that is the most likely way this will evolve. Foles has said he wants to find a team to call his own as the starter. Case Keenum, Foles’ former teammate with the Rams, hit the market last year and got a two-year, $36 million deal ($25 million guaranteed) from the Broncos. Foles figures to get more than that.
The Eagles also could place the franchise tag on Foles, but that would merely be a precursor to trading him.
Manning is on the books for $17 million in salary and $23.2 million on the 2019 salary cap. He is coming off another losing season, and there is clear evidence the Giants must address who comes next. The Giants certainly know plenty about Foles. Coach Pat Shurmur was the offensive coordinator in Philly in 2013, when Foles, as the starter, threw 27 touchdown passes and two interceptions and compiled a passer rating of 119.2. So, Shurmur was there for Foles’ earliest NFL development.
“I’ve never been a big Foles guy,” said Dan Shonka, national scout and general manager of Ourlads’ scouting service. “He had his day in the Super Bowl. But some teams will be dumb enough to overpay because they don’t have a quarterback. Foles is just a guy to me.”
Teddy Bridgewater might hit the open market, but the Saints have let it be known they would consider re-signing him, hoping he can be patient enough to wait around until Drew Brees decides to retire. Shurmur worked with Bridgewater with the Vikings.
“I don’t know any of those guys are enough of an upgrade to go out and spend a bunch of money over having Eli for another year,” said Todd McShay, ESPN NFL draft and college football analyst. “I’d rather spend additional money on continuing to try to upgrade the offensive line and the defense than going out and spending $15 million — the problem with these free-agent quarterbacks is you’re spending so much money. It’s crazy money for basically backup quarterbacks who are going to be used as a bridge starter. I’d rather use that money in other places to get the team better for two years from now than continuing this cycle of wasting money.”