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Eagles can afford both Nick Foles and Carson Wentz

Eagles can afford both Nick Foles and Carson Wentz

Finally world champions, the Eagles find themselves in the world’s most enviable predicament: What to do with the MVP of the Super Bowl?

Doug Pederson squashed any notion of a quarterback controversy postgame. As long as he’s healthy, the job belongs to 25-year-old All-Pro Carson Wentz.

“I told him that hopefully, we'll be back in this game with him leading the way,” Pederson said.

That means Nick Foles — the man who guided the Eagles through the playoffs and over the Patriots in the Super Bowl — becomes trade bait this offseason. At least, that’s the natural conclusion to draw.

There is another option. Theoretically, the Eagles can also hold on to both Wentz and Foles for 2018.

From a purely financial standpoint, it’s a viable plan. Between the two of them, Wentz and Foles are scheduled to make less than $15 million in salary cap terms in '18. That figure would easily land the Eagles in the bottom half of the NFL for quarterback spending.

The Eagles currently rank 21st in cap space allocated to quarterbacks after new contracts around the league for Jimmy Garoppolo and Alex Smith (pending). Enormous paydays are anticipated for free-agents Kirk Cousins and Drew Brees as well.

Though reports indicate Wentz could be recovered from a torn ACL in time to play Week 1, that’s far from a certainty. Even if he is 100 percent by September, that doesn’t mean he’ll be healthy come January, as the Eagles recently learned.

As long as Foles is on the roster, the Eagles are prepared in the event Wentz’s injury lingers or he gets hurt again.

Not the worst idea for a team that has designs on repeating.

Naturally, there are other factors involved with the decision at quarterback. Money is tight, and the Eagles currently possess one pick in the first three rounds of the 2018 NFL draft. Trading Foles aids with both dilemmas.

There’s a potential moral imperative to do right by Foles, too. If he can be a starting quarterback and sign an expensive, long-term contract someplace else, the Eagles may not want to delay his opportunity, provided they receive a fair offer.

Then again, Foles chose to return to the Eagles and doesn’t seem like the type to let ego get in the way. He may be OK with waiting until 2019 when he can become a free agent.

Given everything Foles did for the Eagles this past season, and everything the organization is trying to accomplish in the year ahead, it’s certainly an avenue worth exploring.

QUARTERBACKS BREAKDOWN
*Ages as of Sept. 6, 2018

Nick Foles
Age: 29
2018 cap hit: $7.6 million

The question becomes what is Foles worth in a trade? As remarkable as his postseason run with the Eagles was, there’s a reason it was equally improbable. The six-year veteran is incredibly streaky. Foles’ successes, or failures, appear tied to the quality of his supporting casts, so he won’t necessarily appeal to just any quarterback-needy team. An established playoff contender would be the most logical landing spot, maybe the Bills, Cardinals or Vikings. Whatever his value, if a move is coming, expect it to happen quickly — Foles has a roster bonus worth $3 million due March 18.

Carson Wentz
Age: 25
2018 cap hit: $7.275 million

In case you’re wondering why the Eagles don’t have a legitimate quarterback controversy on their hands, the answer is simple. Wentz is younger, he’s under contract through 2019 with a team option for 2020, and he possesses physical abilities that most quarterbacks — including Foles — simply cannot replicate. The injury is a concern for the immediate future, but most professional athletes make full comebacks at that age. Regardless of who was at the helm for the Eagles in the playoffs and Super Bowl, Wentz is the unquestioned leader of this franchise.

Nate Sudfeld
Age: 24
2018 cap hit: $630,000

If the Eagles trade Foles, are they comfortable with Sudfeld as the backup? That seems like a gamble for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. Sudfeld did OK in his first NFL action, mopping up the final three quarters of a meaningless Week 17 game against the Cowboys. He made safe decisions with the football, completing 82.6 percent of his passes with zero turnovers, and demonstrated functional mobility with a 22-yard scramble. It was a promising debut, though probably not enough for the Eagles to stay completely idle at quarterback if Foles is out of the picture.

Mask-wearing pioneer Rip Hamilton has advice for Joel Embiid

Mask-wearing pioneer Rip Hamilton has advice for Joel Embiid

Detroit Pistons star Richard Hamilton wasn't the first player to wear a mask in the NBA but sometimes it feels like he was.

Newsweek caught up with Rip this week to talk about his mask-wearing days and to see if he had any words of wisdom for Joel Embiid. Hamilton first wore a mask for breaking his nose, but he continued to wear it for the remainder of his career.

Embiid made his first playoff appearance of his career last night in Miami while rocking a new mask complete with a custom visor to protect his eyes. It was clearly bothering him but he didn't let it dictate his play.

“It was difficult,” Embiid said of the mask. “But to me it wasn’t really about getting used to it because at the end of the day, no matter how much it bothers me, I’ve still got to be a basketball player."

Hamilton has famously said that he embraced the mask to the point of it becoming his "Batman cape" which allowed him to be more aggresive.

"Over a period of time I started to get used to it. As basketball players, a lot of times you go to the basket and it’s a lot of elbows being thrown, guys are getting poked in the eye," he told Newsweek this week. "You tend to clench up because you don’t want to get hit in the face. Once I started wearing that mask I wasn’t clenching up no more. I was willing to take contact more. I was able to get to the free throw line more because now I’m not scared of getting hit in the face. It kind of made me into a more aggressive and better basketball player."

Hamilton's message to Embiid prior to the series?

"Embrace it. Make it cool. Make it fun. Make it like a prop. Don’t get caught up in saying like, 'I got a piece of plastic on my face. I’m worrying about how I look, I’m worrying about my perception when I shoot.' When you’re out there in, like, shooting drills, don’t be so caught up in putting the mask on and trying to worry about how you shoot with it on. Put it on in the game and just wear it because our game is a non-thinking sport. React. You gotta read and react as quick as possible. The less thinking you do, the better you’ll be."

Rip also took notice of Embiid's frustration with the mask following the game. He encouraged Jo that it only gets easier.

I’ve thrown my mask off numerous times lil bro @joelembiid ...It will get more comfortable game by game ..Trust The Process. #MaskOnMaskOff#YouGotTheJuiceNow #Holdat #Yessir#Mask #TnT #nba #nbaplayoffs #sixers#sixersvsheat #LoveThisGame

Eagles players with the most to gain at OTAs – S Tre Sullivan

ap-tre-sullivan-eagles.jpg
AP Images

Eagles players with the most to gain at OTAs – S Tre Sullivan

The Eagles don’t hit the practice field as a team for another five weeks, yet each year coaches point to players who distinguish themselves during the months of April and May. These are the players with the most to gain in phases one and two of OTAs.

There isn’t an unheralded prospect in better position to climb the Eagles’ depth chart this spring than Tre Sullivan.

Never mind the fact that vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas just got done lauding Sullivan’s performance in a pre-draft interview on Thursday. The 24-year-old also happens to be one of only four safeties on the Eagles roster for the time being, creating a huge opportunity for an undrafted free agent from Shepherd College.

Competition will come soon enough, as safety is an obvious target for the Eagles in the upcoming draft. Even then, Sullivan could find himself in the mix for a big role with a good spring.

Last season, Corey Graham was the Eagles’ third safety behind Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod. Graham, a free agent departure, wound up playing nearly 40 percent of the team’s snaps.

This isn’t merely a backup job. There’s serious playing time at stake – and Sullivan can get a jump on the competition.

Sullivan made a name for himself in last year’s preseason opener against the Packers with a vicious hit on wide receiver Malachi Dupre. It was a scary moment, as Dupre was knocked out by the collision, but also a clean play and an example of the defensive back’s physicality.

Sullivan forced a fumble on the hit and finished with four tackles. He would go on to acquit himself well in three other preseason games, eventually landing on the Eagles’ practice squad.

Listed at 6-foot-0, 200 pounds, Sullivan is a relatively average size for a safety, but plays downhill and hits like a truck.

The Eagles liked the instincts and aggressiveness they saw on the field. Now, Sullivan has a chance to work out and learn from coaches in an environment where there really aren’t any other young players right now and he can be the focus of a lot of attention. Phases one and two of OTAs and the two weeks before the draft in particular could be a pivotal period.

If Sullivan impresses during these early stages, it could go a long way toward solidifying his place with the team.

Even if Sullivan is bested for the third safety spot, he could still wind up on the 53-man roster. The Eagles may opt to carry five since Chris Maragos primarily plays on special teams.

Sullivan will likely enter training camp as a player who’s considered to be on the bubble, and what he does when the pads go on will be most important. However, if he showed up and really nailed these workouts, that could go a long way toward how the team views him heading into this summer.