Nick Foles, Super Bowl and Beyond
So, in two-and-a-half short years, Foles went from being named the Most Valuable Player in the NFL's All-Star game, to being an unemployed professional football quarterback, to being the starting quarterback in Super Bowl LII.
Talk about the high’s and low’s of being a professional football quarterback.
When Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz was lost to a season-ending knee injury in early December, it looked like the Eagles’ aspirations of a deep postseason run went down with him. After all, how was a journeyman backup quarterback, playing on his third team in three seasons, supposed to play anywhere near the standard of a guy who was the presumptive favorite to win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award?
To Foles’ credit, joining up with Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson – a protégé of Andy Reid, the guy who originally drafted Foles back in 2012 – turned out to be more fortuitous than serendipitous, considering Pederson’s offense was essentially a derivative of what Reid ran in Philadelphia and Kansas City (the latter of which was where Foles spent the 2016 season). It allowed Foles to come in and serve as a veteran mentor to Carson Wentz, who was himself coming off an up-and-down rookie season, and essentially become an extension of the coaching staff while serving as an ever-ready backup option for Wentz.
Now, in Super Bowl LII, Foles has the unenviable task of playing against the greatest head coach and defensive mastermind in the past 100-plus years of professional football, as well as the greatest quarterback in league history, on the game’s biggest stage. This will be Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s eighth Super Bowl appearance in 17 years; conversely, Nick Foles was barely old enough to drive a car the last time the Eagles faced the New England Patriots (in Super Bowl XXXIX). Since October 2nd, the Patriots have a 13-1 record (including their playoff wins).
But regardless of the outcome on Super Bowl Sunday, Foles knows that the clock will turn midnight on his fairy tale season. Wentz is the unquestioned starter in Philadelphia, regardless of whether or not Foles brings the City of Brotherly Love their first-ever Lombardi Trophy. Foles will also be entering the second year of a two-year, $11 million contract, and will have a very salary cap-friendly number -- at least for a quarterback -- of $7.6 million this year. That’s a number that the Eagles – and any other potential employer – would be more than comfortable moving in a trade.
Considering his familiarity with the team, scheme, and coaches, would Foles try and parlay his success into one last shot at starting for another NFL team?
Back in the spring 2016, Foles believed his best chance to remain employed in the NFL was to be the best backup quarterback possible, especially in the right system. But considering he just turned 29 years old, an age which many quarterbacks consider to be right in their prime, does he try his hand at becoming a starter one more time?
If he does, he’ll certainly have options.
New General Manager John Dorsey of the Cleveland Browns held the same position in Kansas City, when Foles signed there prior to the 2016 season. Dorsey has openly stated his desire for a veteran “bridge” quarterback to lead the team, ahead of whomever the Browns will presumably take early in the 2018 NFL Draft.
The Denver Broncos and Buffalo Bills have an immediate need for a starting quarterback. The New York Jets will likely part ways with every quarterback on their roster in 2017. The Arizona Cardinals don’t have a single quarterback on their payroll for 2018. The New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, and even the Jacksonville Jaguars could all be looking for a new quarterback, depending on what decisions they make regarding their respective incumbents.
In a market where Alex Smith, Case Keenum, and Sam Bradford could all be in demand from any number of those teams, would Foles be wise to try and throw his name into the mix?
As the saying goes: opportunity rarely knocks twice. Having been placed into a situation (or putting himself into it) where he has that second chance at leading another team, especially considering what he’s done and what he’s been through in the past, nobody should be surprised if he builds on his success in Philadelphia and tries to squeeze out one more chapter in his football fairy tale story elsewhere.