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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.

Leather Eagles Super Bowl jacket is amazing, crazy expensive

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NFL Shop

Leather Eagles Super Bowl jacket is amazing, crazy expensive

Philadelphia fans aren't the only ones who can't get their fill of Super Bowl Championship memorabilia. The Eagles players want in on the surfeit of champs gear as well.

Take Beau Allen for example. A true man of the people, Allen tweeted his desire for this absolutely beautiful leather jacket commemorating the Eagles victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

Allen tweeted aloud, wondering why the Birds' players hadn't been issued one of these leather jackets yet?

One guess? They retail for a cool $3,000. Totally worth it. 

You can pick one up right here for a low $2,999.99. It's listed as a "Men's NFL Pro Line by Fanatics Branded Black/Green Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl LII Champions Full-Button Leather Jacket."

You'll be happy to know it's an officially licensed NFL product and is made in the USA. Just like Beau.

Joel Embiid belongs among the very best

Joel Embiid belongs among the very best

You can't really fake it at an All-Star Game, especially one where people are actually trying. There's no lucking your way into a couple open shots and a couple generous foul calls and all of a sudden rolling your way to a 30-plus-point game; there's no isolating one defensive mismatch and exploiting it to make yourself look like '01 Shaq. Generally speaking, an All-Star Game shakes out as it should: The best shine the brightest, and those who aren't ready yet fade into the periphery with extra motivation to step things up for next year. 

And that's why it's so awesome that Joel Embiid, a mere 75 games into his NBA career, unquestionably belonged on the biggest stage with the biggest names last night. Playing for Stephen Curry's squad, JoJo posted 19 points on 8-13 shooting, with eight rebounds and two blocks, and a +5 rating for the night — the only positive plus/minus for the Steph starters. 

Out of context, those numbers may not sound particularly impressive for an All-Star outing, considering the final score of 2017's game was 192-182. But thanks to increased financial and personal motivation in this year's game, the competition was ratcheted up, and though the final score was still a robust 148-145 — Team LeBron emerging victorious — no one player really went off in this one, with Team Stephen being led in scoring by DeMar DeRozan and Damian Lillard (21 each). Consider that JoJo's 19 outpaced both teammates James Harden (12 points on 5-19 FG) and Curry himself (13 on 4-14 FG) — only two of the greatest scorers in NBA history. 

And what's more, down the stretch it was Embiid who seemed most ready to rise to the moment. With minutes remaining and his team up one, Embiid posted up LeBron James — LeBron James!! — for an easy bucket, and with the score tied and under a minute left, he got stuck isolated on the perimeter against Paul George, and still ended up blocking George's shot to win the possession back for his team. Had his squad been able to hang on in this one, he would've been able to mount a fairly compelling case for MVP, which would've made him the first player since at least the 20th century to win top honors in his first All-Star appearance. 

Of course, it didn't happen that way, and Team Stephen coach Mike D'Antoni might get most of the blame as to why. With his squad up one and Team LeBron inbounding out of a timeout, D'Antoni opted for some incomprehensible reason to bench Embiid, his best defensive player — which, somewhat unsurprisingly, resulted in LeBron scoring quickly and easily at the basket to go up one, and then DeMar DeRozan throwing the ball away at the other end. Embiid entered for the final possession, with his team needing a three to tie, and he had a chance to hoist one, but understandably passed to Curry, who drove his way into traffic and ended up not even getting a shot off. Team LeBron won, and James took home his third MVP. 

Frustrating finish, but it can't ruin what came before: Joel Embiid squaring off against the best the NBA has to offer, and proving himself a factor. (Also nailed a three and then blocked a Russell Westbrook drive at the other end, btw, so that beautiful random feud lives on.) He got as good as he gave — LeBron drilled a triple in his face immediately after JoJo took him down low — but he was in the mix, and a crucial part of his team's successes and failures. It should be the first of many such All-Star starring roles for Embiid, and hopefully the last for some time that doesn't also include him being flanked by Process Truster in Arms Ben Simmons. 

But even if it isn't — even if nothing good ever happens again with Joel, and we look back at this All-Star Game 25 years from now as the high point of this career — it still would have all been worth it. It was worth it when the team went 10-5 two Januarys ago. It was maybe worth it when Embiid gave his first-ever post-game interview following a Sixers win. 

That's what people will never understand about The Process, and that's what makes nights like this so gratifying. Franchises go decades, entire generations, without getting a moment to feel this way about one of their players, and even getting the chance to feel it about one of ours is worth seasons of sacrifice. JoJo lives, and somewhere in the bowels of the Staples Center last night, Our Once and Always Dark Lord Sam Hinkie had to be there and be smiling. Hope he enjoyed the Fergie national anthem as much as I did, as well.