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.
Despite what some are saying, I don’t believe there is any chance the Eagles tag Foles unless they are 100% sure they have a trade and even then it comes with great risk. Foles could contest the tag was applied in good faith and open a huge can of worms.— Joe Banner (@JoeBanner13) February 6, 2019
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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