Eagles

Nick Foles still wants to be a starter

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Nick Foles still wants to be a starter

Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles wants to be a starter again. 

Of course he does. 

You’d be hard-pressed to find any player in the NFL who would willingly admit they’re fine being a backup, and a guy who led his team to a win over Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in Super Bowl LII obviously wants that type of opportunity again. 

In a recent interview with Austin TV station KVUE, Foles admitted as much. 

“I know there was some stuff going around about a possible trade,” said Foles, who wore a Phillies hat and began his answer by saying how much he loved the city. “I would love the opportunity to be a starter again. I know my spot in Philadelphia. I think I’ve shown what I can do. I’m signed for one more year and I love the team and I love the city. I’m excited for Carson to get back on his feet. I’ll be ready to go whenever they need me. 

“But we’ll see. Just living in the moment, get ready for this offseason program. It’s been a real quick offseason. The Super Bowl was just a few months ago. But I’m excited to see all the guys because we all go our different directions so we’ll all come back together in that locker room. There will be some new faces, some faces gone. But we’ll be the Philadelphia Eagles once again and we’ll have a great offseason.”

The Eagles have been very open with Foles during every step of last season and into the offseason. There’s absolutely no quarterback controversy in Philadelphia. Carson Wentz is still the guy. It’s his team and the Eagles have made sure to yell that from every mountaintop they can. But if it’s Wentz’s team, that means the Super Bowl MVP will eventually be a backup again; it’s a unique situation. 

Foles is 29 and has one year left on his contract. He's probably going to get a chance to become a starter again, even if he has to wait out the 2018 season. 

Like many players, Foles says he doesn’t follow his name in the news. But unlike many players, he’s probably being honest. It’s just impossible for him to insulate himself completely. The rumors about a possible trade are out there and Foles obviously hears about them. 

“It’s a very unique situation,” Foles said. “I think the great thing with Philly, I have such a great relationship with the personnel decision-makers that if there ever does come a day where I’m traded or something does happen, it’s going to be an open conversation. We’re excited to go back to Philly. We’ll go back there in a few days. I don’t know what my career holds from here on out. I’ve been very blessed for the six years I’ve played. I would love to start again and do all that, but we go year by year and we’ll just enjoy Monday and seeing all the guys after an offseason away from being Super Bowl champs.”

As Foles said, the Eagles kick off their offseason workout program on Monday. The team will be back together in the NovaCare Complex for mostly strength and conditioning training. The team’s OTAs will begin on May 22 and as Wentz continues his recovery, Foles will take all the first-team reps at quarterback. He’ll likely do the same in training camp and in the preseason. 

But eventually, whenever Wentz is ready to return, Foles will go back to being a backup. Head coach Doug Pederson was asked last month if he thinks Foles will be OK with that. 

“I think so,” Pederson said at the owners meetings in Orlando (see story). “That’s obviously probably a Nick question, but I just kind of know Nick and his mentality and I think he’s fine with that. He understands it’s Carson’s team. He knew that last year, but he did embrace his role and did it superbly. Moving forward, I think he’s going to be OK.”

If nothing else, Foles is basically an insurance policy for the Eagles. It’s why there’s such an expensive price tag for any team that wants to acquire him through a trade, as Howie Roseman explained not that long ago (see story).

Really, the quarterback market seemed to dry up this offseason. There just aren’t many teams where a Foles trade would make sense right now, but the Eagles were obviously opportunistic a couple years ago when they traded Sam Bradford, so that possibility is always there. For now, though, Foles is going to have to wait out this season before he gets the chance to become a starter again. 

Eagles NFL draft options at No. 25: Jerry Tillery

Eagles NFL draft options at No. 25: Jerry Tillery

Jerry Tillery arrived at Notre Dame as an offensive lineman, and with his quickness and athleticism he probably would have been a pretty good one. But he moved to defense as a freshman, and the move certainly paid off.

Tillery had some issues early in his career. He was suspended for the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State as a freshman for violating team rules and in a game against USC as a sophomore got into trouble for stepping on a player’s leg and kicking another player while he was on the ground. But he grew into a leader and one of the most dominating interior linemen in the country.

Tillery blossomed as a junior with nine tackles for loss and 4 ½ sacks and earned All-America status this past year with 10 ½ TFLs and eight sacks. At 6-6, 295, Tillery is a force against the run but also a ferocious pass rusher. Tillery is still raw and prone to occasional technique breakdowns, but his upside is off the charts.

Current roster at DT: The Eagles desperately need help at defensive tackle behind projected starters Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson. With Haloti Ngata retired, the only other interior linemen on the roster are former practice squadders like Treyvon Hester and Bruce Hector. 

How he would fit: He’d play immediately. The combination of Hester, Hector, Ngata and Detiny Vaeao played more than 800 combined snaps on defense last year, so if ideally Cox and Jackson play about 75 percent of the snaps, that leaves about 35 snaps per game for the third defensive tackle. Perfect for a rookie.

Eagles history at DT in draft: The Eagles have taken four defensive tackles in the first round since 2000 – Corey Simon, Mike Patterson, Brodrick Bunkley and Cox. All but Patterson were among the first 14 picks. Only the Rams and Jaguars have also taken four tackles since 2000. Before that there was Leonard Renfro in 1993 and Jerome Brown in 1987.

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Other options at 25 

Are Eagles more likely to trade up or down in 2019 draft?

Are Eagles more likely to trade up or down in 2019 draft?

During his joint 42-minute pre-draft media availability this week, Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman was asked a simple question: 

Are you more interested in trading up or down in the first round? 

His answer was not nearly as simple: 

Who’s on the board? What’s the value? What are we getting?

His point, of course, was that they’ll have to see how the first round is going before figuring out whether or not they’d be willing to trade up to target a player or trade back to acquire more draft picks. At No. 25, it seems like they’re in a good position to do either. And Roseman is never shy about making draft-day trades. 

I still think the Eagles are more likely to trade up to get what Roseman calls a “difference-maker,” but that doesn’t mean a trade down isn’t possible. 

Remember, for Roseman, the draft isn’t about just getting good players; it’s about getting good players for good value. Earlier this week, Roseman outlined three reasons to make a trade in the first round: 

1. Trading up: If there’s a fall-off point in talent in the first round, it makes sense to move up to get a difference-maker. The Eagles are sitting at 25, so if they have 20 players they think are first-round worthy (even though their grading scale doesn’t work by round), there’s a chance they’ll have to move up to get one of those top players. They’ll do their research, but won’t truly know if one of those top-tier players will be available at 25 until the players start getting picked off the board. 

2. Trading down: If the Eagles are on the clock at 25 and they have, say, four players who are graded equally or close to it, they could add value by moving back three or four spots. They would get more or better later-round picks and still get a player they view as an equal to whomever they’d get at 25. 

3. Trading down: If they’re on the clock at 25 and they don’t think any of the players are worthy of that pick, they can hope someone else sees value there. In that case, they can trade back and get into a pocket of that round or the next round where they’d feel more comfortable making a pick. 

Since he became the Eagles’ GM in 2010, Roseman has been in charge of eight drafts (not including the 2015 draft under Chip Kelly). In those eight years, he has made 25 draft-day trades and four of them include first rounders. That’s over 3.0 per year and he’s never not made a trade during the draft. (This doesn’t include the two trades in 2016 to get in position to draft Carson Wentz; those happened before the draft.) 

Of the four Round 1 trades, two were to trade up, two were to trade down. 

• In 2010, the Eagles traded picks Nos. 24, 70 and 87 to move up to No. 13 to draft Brandon Graham. 

• In 2012, the Eagles traded Nos. 15, 114 and 172 to move up to No. 12 to draft Fletcher Cox. 

• In 2014, the Eagles traded No. 22 down to No. 26 to draft Marcus Smith. The Browns wanted Johnny Manziel. The Eagles also got No. 83. 

• In 2018, the Eagles traded out of the first round (No. 32) when the Ravens wanted to draft Lamar Jackson. The Birds ended up trading back up higher in the second to take Dallas Goedert the next day. 

Roseman has talked before about the usual talent cutoff in first rounds. There are only a certain amount of “difference-makers” atop every draft — it differs by team — and on Tuesday, he said most drafts don’t have “32 legitimate first round grades” on players. He, of course, didn’t say whether or not this is one of those years, as to not tip his hand. But the Eagles are already running through all the hypothetical situations. And this is the time where preliminary phone calls between teams about draft-day intentions start happening. Roseman always says trades happen because of relationships around the league. 

So the reason Roseman didn’t answer the question on Tuesday is because he probably really doesn’t know what’s going to happen when the draft kicks off. He certainly has more of an idea than he let on — I still think the Eagles are in prime trade up territory — but there’s no point in tipping his hand. 

The only thing we know for certain: Roseman isn’t one to shy away from draft-day moves, so there’s a good chance we see one again next week. 

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