After backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld broke his left wrist during the preseason opener on Thursday night, the Eagles are left with two real options:
1. Sign another veteran quarterback to back up Carson Wentz
2. Go into the 2019 season with Cody Kessler as the backup
It seems like they’re leaning toward No. 2.
Just a few hours after Sudfeld was carted into the locker room, where X-rays revealed a fracture in his non-throwing wrist that will need surgery, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said the Eagles don’t currently have any plans to sign another quarterback.
Right now,” Pederson said, “we are going to continue with who we have. We are comfortable with Cody and we will get Clayton [Thorson] more work. Again, with Nate, this is not a season-ending injury, so we are excited about that.
Admittedly, there is a third option. The Eagles could sign a quarterback — be it a camp arm or a veteran to compete — and still go into the season with Kessler as the backup. But the result would still be the same. Kessler would back up Wentz in Week 1 and until Sudfeld is ready to return.
Pederson didn’t give a timetable for Sudfeld’s return, but a rough estimate for a broken wrist would be about 6-8 weeks. So, going off that rough estimate, we shouldn’t expect to see Sudfeld back until late September at the absolute earliest. Really, October is probably more realistic.
After undergoing surgery this morning for a broken bone above his left wrist, Eagles’ backup QB Nate Sudfeld is expected to return in six weeks, per source. Best-case scenario for Philly.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 9, 2019
So can the Eagles feel comfortable with Kessler being their backup for the first month or two of the season?
On Thursday night, I asked Pederson if he could see Kessler going into the season as their backup.
He's a veteran guy,” Pederson said. “He's started games in the National Football League. He's shown us he's been able to hand the playbook and incrementally getting better every day. He gets out there and takes reps. Looking forward, we're not there yet, but he's been in that role before, so he's accustomed to being a backup if that's the case. But right now, we're focused on these next few days and getting ready for Saturday.
The Eagles signed Kessler on May 13 and during OTAs and even the beginning of training camp, he was working as their fourth quarterback behind Wentz, Sudfeld and the rookie Thorson. But during training camp, he overtook Thorson and will now be the Eagles’ second-string QB when the team gets back together for practice on Saturday.
And, honestly, the Eagles could probably do worse than Kessler as a backup.
The former third-round pick has played in 17 games with 12 career starts in the NFL and has completed 64.2 percent of his passes with 8 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. And you have to remember: He played most of those games during miserable seasons in Cleveland. No, he isn’t a Pro Bowler, but Kessler’s not terrible and he would have a head start in the offense over anyone the Eagles would bring in.
Theoretically, the Eagles could evaluate Kessler over the next week and in the next preseason game and then determine if he’d be an adequate backup. But if they deemed he isn’t, they would have just wasted a week of time that could have been used to get a signed player up to speed. The clock is ticking and we’re under five weeks to go before the start of the regular season.
What Sudfeld’s injury should guarantee is that the Eagles can’t waste a roster spot on Thorson this season. The fifth-rounder looks like a project, so the Eagles should try to get him through waivers and to the practice squad.
As long as Sudfeld’s injury won’t keep him out until Week 9 (if it would, then they could put him on IR), the Eagles should carry three quarterbacks on their roster: Wentz, an injured Sudfeld and the backup, either Kessler or a veteran to be named later.
The Eagles have some decisions to make and they’re not easy ones.
But the good news is that if Wentz stays healthy, none of this will matter anyway.
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.