Eagles

Nick Foles vs. Carson Wentz is closer than you think

Nick Foles vs. Carson Wentz is closer than you think

One of the sad byproducts of the Eagles' Super Bowl triumph has been the move lately to bring Nick Foles down, to discredit him for his achievements, all in the name of Carson Wentz.

It seems a segment of Eagles fans out there — not all, not even most but enough that it's disturbing — believe Foles' postseason success was some lucky bounce of the football, just a bunch of fortunate throws that just happened to somehow settle into the waiting arms of Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz and Torrey Smith in the end zone.

Here's my favorite tweet from the past 24 hours: "To say someone can't accidentally have a great postseason is a farce, as (Joe) Flacco and Doug Williams have."

Another: "Wentz is so much better than Foles it's not even a conversation. It's not even close."

You can find dozens more on my Twitter timeline, and I find it just really, really sad that there are some Eagles fans out there who can't just enjoy the franchise's first Super Bowl championship without taking sides in some pointless Wentz vs. Foles debate.

The Eagles have two elite quarterbacks.

This is beyond question.

One I believe will be a star in this league for the next decade.

One just won the Super Bowl MVP.

It doesn't have to be one or the other. It doesn't have to be Nick vs. Carson. They're both great people, tremendous teammates, fierce competitors.

But for those who still refuse to give Foles credit for what he achieved, consider this:

Foles is 20-10 as a starter with the Eagles (.667), with a 62.4 percent completion percentage, 59 touchdowns, 20 interceptions, 7.5 yards per completion and a 95.2 passer rating.

Wentz is 18-11 as a starter with the Eagles (.621), with a 61.5 percent completion percentage, 49 touchdowns, 21 interceptions, 6.8 yards per completion and an 88.8 passer rating.

Foles is 6-4 against playoff teams, Wentz is 5-6. Foles has a 91.6 passer rating on third down, Wentz has a 92.1. Foles has completed 27 passes of 40 yards or more, Wentz has completed 15.

Foles has started 30 games, Wentz has started 29. Foles has thrown 86 more passes, thrown for 1,400 more yards, 10 more touchdowns, one less interception.

It's fascinating how similar their Eagles tenures have been. If anything, Foles has a slight statistical edge.

I think where people get confused is the old "eye test." Wentz looks like a superstar. He's a first-round pick. He's incredibly athletic and has certain skills Foles doesn't have. Foles was a third-round pick, he's bounced around the league a little, he's been a backup.

But as Eagles quarterbacks? There's enough of a body of work — roughly two seasons of starts for each — that their production simply can't be labeled an accident or a fluke or happenstance.

Now, what should the Eagles do at quarterback is a different question.

Wentz just turned 25, Foles just turned 29. When you're building a roster, you're going to go with the young guy with a world of upside.

What happens to Foles? I would guess he stays for another year, since there are still so many unknowns with Wentz's health and his readiness for opening day. Then he can hit free agency after the 2018 season and move on.

When all is said and done, Wentz may have five Super Bowl MVPs. But right now all we have is what we have, and that's the most promising young quarterback in the NFL and another guy who just turned in one of the greatest postseasons by any quarterback in NFL history.

We went so long in this city without elite quarterback play. Think about the last 50 years.

Really, other than maybe Roman Gabriel in 1973, Jaws from 1979 through 1981, Randall from 1988 through 1992, and Donovan from, say, 2000 through 2008, we haven't had it at all, other than brief blips from Michael Vick, Jeff Garcia and Foles in 2013.

Now the Eagles have two quarterbacks who everybody in the city can be proud of and can believe in.

This is a time to celebrate. A time to enjoy the afterglow of one of the greatest runs in franchise history. A time to revel in what the Eagles accomplished for once instead of what they're lacking.

Eagles hoping no-risk, high-reward veteran signings can rekindle past success

Eagles hoping no-risk, high-reward veteran signings can rekindle past success

When you’re in salary cap hell, you have to be creative when building a roster.

And one tactic Howie Roseman used when putting together the Eagles team that begins training camp Thursday is signing a handful of no-risk, high-reward guys.

Players trying to revive their careers. Players trying to reclaim past glory. Players running out of chances.

These are no-risk, high-reward guys. They could become contributors, but if it doesn’t work out? The Eagles can release them before the season with modest or no cap ramifications.

When you’re in salary cap hell, you can’t sign all the free agents you want. So you sign the free agents that you can. And you do that by signing players nobody else wants. Guys with no leverage.

One tool Roseman likes to use is the NFL’s minimum-salary benefit, which gives teams some salary cap relief when they sign veteran players to certain deals.

The minimum-salary benefit can be used only for veterans with at least four years of experience who sign one-year minimum-wage deals with combined bonuses equalling $90,000 or less. 

Here’s a look at four of these no-risk, high-reward players the Eagles added this offseason.

Markus Wheaton

The Eagles signed Wheaton to a one-year deal with a $790,000 base salary (sixth-year minimum) with a $45,000 signing bonus, a $45,000 workout bonus but a cap number of $720,000, thanks to the minimum-salary benefit.

If the Eagles release Wheaton before the season, he would count just $90,000 against the cap, the value of his two bonuses.

Wheaton is only 27 and should be in his prime but has done nearly nothing the last two seasons after two very good years.

In 2014 and 2015, he combined for 97 catches for 1,393 yards, seven touchdowns and a 14.4 average. He had seven catches of 40 yards or more during those two years. Pretty good production.

But the last two years, Wheaton had just seven catches for 102 yards and one TD for the Steelers and Bears.

If he’s healthy and can be even half the player he was in 2014 and 2015, he could really help as a fourth receiver.

Matt Jones

The Eagles signed Jones to a two-year, $1.51 million deal that includes base salaries of $705,000 this year and $805,000 next year with no bonus money, which means no dead cap money if he’s released.

Even though Jones’ deal is not subject to the minimum-salary benefit, his base salaries of $705,000 and $805,000 are minimum wage for a third-year veteran in 2018 and a fourth-year vet in 2019.

Jones was one of the NFL’s best running backs the first half of 2016. Through seven games, he had 460 yards and a 4.6 average with three TDs. In a mid-October win over the Eagles at FedEx Field, he ran for 135 yards, the most rushing yards against the Eagles the last two years.

But he hurt his knee and never got his job back, then was released before last season. He resurfaced with the Colts but had only five carries all year.

Jones is only 25 and is a good enough receiver that he caught 19 passes for 304 yards and a TD as a rookie reserve.

With LeGarrette Blount gone, Jay Ajayi on a pitch count because of chronic knee soreness, Corey Clement’s role still undefined and Darren Sproles likely to be limited on offense at 35 years old, Jones will have a chance to work his way into the mix.

And if it doesn’t work out? No cap hit.

Richard Rodgers

The Eagles signed Rodgers to a one-year, $880,000 contract that includes a $790,000 base salary, a $45,000 signing bonus, a $45,000 workout bonus and a $720,000 cap figure, courtesy of the minimum-salary benefit rule.

If the Eagles release him, he’ll count $245,000 in dead money, the amount of guaranteed money in his one-year deal.

As recently as 2015, Rodgers caught 58 passes for 510 yards and eight touchdowns, which ranked him 12th among all NFL tight ends in catches and fifth in TDs. But he dropped to 30 catches in 2016 and just 12 last year.

Rodgers is only 26 and should be in his prime, but he’s reached only 30 yards twice in his last 31 games.

With Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, the Eagles have a potent 1-2 punch, but if Rodgers can regain his form of 2015, it would give Doug Pederson even more options in a ridiculously talented array of skill players.

LaRoy Reynolds

The Eagles signed Reynolds to a one-year, $880,000 contract that includes a $790,000 base salary, a $90,000 roster bonus and a reduced $720,000 cap figure.

Because there’s nothing guaranteed in his contract, the Eagles would not absorb any dead money under the cap if they release him before the season.

Reynolds, now with his fourth team in four years, has played in 68 games with seven starts. He’s only 27 and is considered an above-average special teamer and adequate depth linebacker.

The Eagles have some big question marks at linebacker, with Paul Worrilow (Reynolds’ former teammate) out for the year, Mychal Kendricks now with the Browns, Nigel Bradham suspended for the opener and Jordan Hicks able to finish one of his first three seasons.

Reynolds will have a chance to work into that mix. If not? No harm done.

More on the Eagles

Eagle Eye: When does a contract negotiation become a problem?

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USA Today Images

Eagle Eye: When does a contract negotiation become a problem?

In the latest edition of Eagle Eye, John Clark and Barrett Brooks are pumped for the start of training camp. Following MLB Commissioner's comments on Mike Trout's marketability, the guys discuss if it's on the player or the league to market an athlete? The Falcons said they will not give Julio Jones a new contract. At what point does a public contract negotiation become a distraction in the locker room?

1:00 - Guys are excited for the start of training camp.
4:45 - Is it on a player or a league to market an athlete?
11:00 - When does a Julio Jones contract situation become a locker room distraction?
18:00 - When money starts dividing a locker room.

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