Another hurdle arises in Eagles' apparent plan to franchise tag Nick Foles

Another hurdle arises in Eagles' apparent plan to franchise tag Nick Foles

There’s another hurdle if the Eagles really have a plan to slap a franchise tag on Nick Foles in the hopes of trading him. 

While several reports suggest that’s the Eagles plan — including one from ESPN’s Adam Schefter — it continues to feel like somewhat of a long shot it happens that way for several reasons, including one brought up by my colleague Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk

A tag-and-trade might violate the CBA. 

Florio dug this up from Article 4, Section 8, subsection (b): 

A Club extending a Required Tender must, for so long as that Tender is extended, have a good faith intention to employ the player receiving the Tender at the Tender compensation level during the upcoming season.

Basically, it seems like the Eagles’ plan to tag and trade Foles violates the spirit of the franchise tag rule. The Eagles don’t plan on having Foles on their roster next year; the only reason they would tag him is to trade him. Florio writes if Foles were to fight the tag, an expedited grievance would resolve the issue before the start of free agency on March 13. 

We don’t know what Foles’ feelings on this scenario are, but based on how quickly he voided his option year by paying back $2 million, it seems like he would rather become a free agent. Pretty much anyone would rather become a free agent. That’s why our Andrew Kulp doesn’t understand why Foles would sign a franchise tag if the Eagles placed one on him (see story). Foles really has all the leverage. 

I guess the reason he might sign it is because that’s around $25 million in guaranteed money and he knows the Eagles would have to trade him. But Foles has talked about the importance of finding the right fit for his next job. He can’t find that fit as easily if it’s up to the Eagles to decide where he goes. And why would Foles want his future team to give up assets to get him? He’ll want that team to keep their draft picks and get better. 

I agree with Banner here. The Eagles really can’t franchise Foles unless they know they have a trade worked out. (They’re not going to pay a backup $25M in 2019.) And then Foles would probably have to be on board. Because what team would trade significant assets if that player wasn’t interested in being there or signing an extension? 

The first time the Eagles would be allowed to tag Foles is Feb. 19 and the tagging window ends on March 5. If the Eagles tag Foles, they’d need to allocate a huge portion of their salary cap (around $25M) to account for him once the league year starts on March 13. Remember, no trade can officially happen until the new league year, so Foles will have to be on the Eagles books at that time if they want to trade him. 

If Foles walks as a free agent, it’s presumed the Eagles would eventually get a third-round compensatory pick for next year’s draft. So any compensation coming back in a trade would have to be better than that — and it would likely be more immediate. Foles is worth more than a really late third-round pick, but any team willing to trade for him would also know the Eagles are in a bit of a bind. 

Aside from all the logistics of this is the fact that Foles is a legend in Philadelphia and helped the Eagles win their first Super Bowl. Just after the season ended, I asked Howie Roseman about how much they had to account for Foles’ feelings when making a decision. He said they would do what’s best for the team, but admitted there’s also a “respect factor” that comes into play. The Eagles have to weigh both sides of this. 

The Eagles would probably prefer to find a way to drum up interest and then trade Foles this offseason, but it still seems like a long shot. Howie has pulled off crazier moves — maybe he has some more magic up his sleeve — but I still think it’s more likely Foles simply walks. 

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Let the Cowboys have their little Thanksgiving game

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Let the Cowboys have their little Thanksgiving game

The Eagles proposed a rule change that would have stripped the Cowboys or Lions of their annual Thanksgiving home games, only to withdraw the proposal presumably because it received about as much support as Donovan McNabb for the Hall of Fame.

The proposal, which would’ve allowed the Cowboys and Lions to continue playing in their holiday slots as long as one of them goes on the road, wasn’t intended as an inconsequential dig at a loathsome NFC East rival and a conference foe. Each year, the NFL gifts a legitimate scheduling advantage to the Cowboys and Lions, forcing their opponents to travel to Dallas or Detroit on a short week — a hardship they are almost never asked to endure themselves — all because tradition.

It’s not fair. Since 2006, the Eagles have played five Thursday away games on short rest, while the Cowboys have played zero. Nobody cares about the Lions.

Based on the Eagles’ withdrawal, nobody really cares about this inequity, either — mildly surprising given the sometimes painstaking lengths the NFL continually goes to balance the schedule.

Then again, I also don’t care. In fact, I’m actively hoping it never changes.

Has anybody truly considered the can of worms this rule would open? As the tradition stands now, the league cycles different teams through Dallas and Detroit to maintain some semblance of fairness. The Eagles have played only two Thanksgiving afternoon games since 1989, which for any human being with responsibilities beyond watching football, is kind of nice. But if any team can suddenly host an afternoon game on Thanksgiving, the Eagles’ chances of interrupting dinner skyrockets.

The Eagles, as an organization, love playing on holidays because of the extra attention. I, on the other hand, personally appreciate the fact that the Cowboys and Lions play on Thanksgiving because, frankly, they’re usually irrelevant teams and I don’t feel the need to catch every second of the games. Football is great, and I watch as much as I can, just in between stuffing my face and spending time with loved ones.

For many Cowboys fans — and maybe Lions fans, too, I guess — Thanksgiving has become their Super Bowl, since the team doesn’t play in the actual big game anymore. They plan their entire get-togethers around watching Dallas with that insufferable grandpop who’s responsible for the family’s misplaced fandom.

It’s a tradition I’m all too happy not to share in on a regular basis. (And won’t somebody please think of the sportswriters who have to work that day?!)

As I get older, I’ve increasingly learned to accept the rules of the game are whatever they are at a given time. They’re constantly changing, and maybe they don’t always make the most sense or aren’t the most just, but teams must find a way to win within the parameters — and they do, all the time.

There’s no doubt the rules are tilted ever-so-slightly in favor of the Cowboys and the Lions in this case, and the Eagles aren’t wrong to mention it. But I’m glad they lost this battle and I hope they continue to do so, because I don’t need any more Eagles games on the holidays than there already are.

Besides, it’s not like the Thanksgiving games have really been hugely beneficial to the Cowboys in recent years, or the Lions ever.

Eagles mailbag: Sidney Jones, Jay Ajayi, early-round RBs

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Eagles mailbag: Sidney Jones, Jay Ajayi, early-round RBs

I’ll be in Phoenix next week for the owners meetings, where we’ll hear from the Eagles’ brass for the first time after all of their moves this offseason. 

But until then, you guys had plenty of questions. 

As always, we got too many for one mailbag, so we split them up. Here’s the first batch: 

I don’t think so. I understand the the cornerback room is crowded, especially after the Eagles brought back Ronald Darby. They have Darby, Jones, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox and Cre’Von LeBlanc. But Jones is the one I definitely wouldn’t trade. I know his first real season in the NFL didn’t go as planned, but he was pretty much a rookie last year and he got hurt. I’m nowhere near ready to give up on Jones. There’s a reason he was a first-round talent, there’s a reason the Eagles still drafted him in the second round in 2017 despite the Achilles tear. 

And you have to remember this: Jones is entering his third NFL season but he’s still just 22 and he has a modest cap hit of $1.67 million in 2019. Even next year, he still counts less than $2 million toward the cap. The Eagles owe it to themselves and Jones to find out if he can live up to his potential.  

Good question, but one that’s hard to answer until we actually have a better sense of who will be on the roster. The Eagles are in better shape when it comes to kick returners. They can have Wendell Smallwood or Corey Clement do it. Even Nelson Agholor can be an emergency kick returner. 

Punt returner? That’s a little trickier. The only guy on the team who returned last year with any regularity was Clement and he wasn’t very good at it. In big moments, DeSean Jackson can be the punt returner, but he hasn’t been an every-time returner in a few years. Maybe Nelly can do it; maybe Braxton Miller if he’s on the roster. There’s also a chance the Eagles’ 2019 punt returner isn’t on the roster yet. 

He’s rehabbing from that ACL injury. He reportedly had a visit set up with the Colts and head coach Frank Reich. But I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Eagles bring him back on a cheap deal. I don’t think teams are going to line up to break the bank for him. There were already serious concerns about Ajayi’s knees before the ACL injury. He is a good fit in the locker room and the Eagles should have inside knowledge of his recovery. If the Eagles want to bring him back and then draft a running back to complement him, that’s not a terrible option. Which brings us to this … 

I do. I really do. The Eagles haven’t drafted a running back in the first or second round since LeSean McCoy since 2009, so their recent history says they won’t. But I think this is the year to buck that trend. I’m not sold on the idea of them taking one at 25, but with two second-round picks (53 and 57), things are lining up nicely for them to take one of the running backs who will be second-round picks. I have my eye on Miles Sanders from Penn State or David Montgomery from Iowa State. I think either one would be exactly what the Eagles need. 

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