We should expect them by now, the things Nick Foles does to keep the Philadelphia Eagles alive in the postseason. Replacing an injured Carson Wentz for the second straight season, Foles helped the Eagles to a 16-15 road win Sunday over the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia’s fourth straight playoff win as an underdog with Foles as its starter. According to ESPN Stats & Info, only four other quarterbacks have ever accomplished such a streak: Eli Manning, Jim Plunkett, Joe Flacco and Craig Morton.
Whether it all ends in another stunning Super Bowl win remains to be seen, and Philly will be an underdog again Sunday against the Saints in New Orleans. But we do know this: Barring some truly creative wrangling from the team’s front office, this is probably the last time we’ll see Foles doing this in an Eagles uniform.
Despite concerns about injuries, Philadelphia seems unlikely to give up on Wentz, who is in the third year of his four-year rookie deal that’s paying him a team-friendly average of $6.7 million per year. The Eagles also can extend that deal by one year into 2020, with Wentz’s salary only guaranteed for injury. In essence, there’s no real urgency for Philadelphia to do much of anything with Wentz, who’s grown into a capable (if fragile) NFL starter.
Foles’s situation is much more complex for the Eagles because of the mutual-option contract they hammered out after last season. Philadelphia has until mid-February to decide whether to pick up the $20 million option on Foles’s contract for 2019; if it declines to do so, he will become a free agent. But if the team does pick up the option, Foles then has the option of paying back the $2 million signing bonus he received this year, canceling the contract and becoming a free agent anyway.
All of this points to Foles playing elsewhere next season. The Eagles will not want to pay their backup quarterback $20 million, especially considering that they’re already projected to be $11 million over the salary cap when the league year begins. Philadelphia also could pick up Foles’s option and then try to work out a trade, but the team might struggle to find a partner willing to part with draft picks or players in exchange for a quarterback with a guaranteed contract already in place.
Foles, meanwhile, will want to maximize his earning potential as a free agent who will be able to negotiate with teams directly. But for now, he’ll get at least one more chance to do his thing again for the Eagles, who are nine-point underdogs for Sunday’s game in New Orleans. He does seem to be aware that it’s all coming to an end, however.
“I realize that I’m blessed to be able to wear this jersey at least one more week,” he told ESPN’s Kevin Seifert, “and I get to play with these guys one more week.”
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