How important is backup quarterback for the Eagles? Say what you want about Carson Wentz, and I still have the utmost confidence in him, but the reality is he’s failed to finish the last three seasons and goes into his 5th NFL season with three career postseason passing yards.
I don't expect him to keep getting hurt, but if he does the Eagles have to be prepared with a QB who can win games.
The Eagles need to figure out cornerback and wide receiver and pass rush. But they also need to figure out who Wentz’s backup will be because there’s a good chance it will be someone new.
Nate Sudfeld and Josh McCown are both unrestricted free agents and both could well be gone soon.
It’s hard to tell what the Eagles think of Sudfeld, but certainly leaving him at No. 3 after he was fully healed isn’t exactly a huge vote of confident, and he might want to sign somewhere where he feels he has at least a chance to compete for a starting job.
McCown still wants to play, and the Eagles love him. But he turns 41 in July and is coming off a torn hamstring injury and probably would be No. 3 if he comes back.
There’s no way the Eagles are going to draft a quarterback high enough to be No. 2.
What does it all mean?
The Eagles will likely be either signing or trading for Wentz's backup over the next month or so.
Here are some candidates, and no I didn’t bother including guys like Tom Brady, Dak Prescott or Philip Rivers because that ain't happening.
THE TOP GUYS
JOE FLACCO: The South Jersey native, now 35, probably understands his starting days are over. But he’s good enough to be a solid backup. Wasn’t horrible in Denver last year playing under recent Eagles hire Rich Scangarello before getting hurt and then benched. Was critical of Scangarello’s play calling, and although he won’t be calling plays here that could be an issue. He’s under contract but the Broncos would be happy to unload him.
COLIN KAEPERNICK: He hasn’t played since 2016 and I would guess he wants starter money. But if he’s willing to be a backup and isn’t trying to break the bank and he’s in shape? You could do worse than a 32-year-old with four career playoff wins and more than twice as many career TD passes (72) as interceptions (30). And you know the owner would be open to an out-of-the-box move like signing Kaep.
CASE KEENUM: Would Keenum return to the site of Pat Robinson’s 50-yard pick-6 that started the Eagles off on a 38-7 destruction of Keenum and the Vikings in the 2017 NFC Championship Game? If the money's right, sure. Keenum makes a lot of sense. He’s a free agent, he’s played well the last few years – for three different teams (51 TDs, 27 INTs since 2017) – he’s won in the playoffs, and he won't be looking for a starting job. And he won’t cost a fortune. He's at the top of my list.
MARCUS MARIOTA: Imagine if he finally makes it here five years after Chip? Mariota is a free agent and after losing his job last year to Ryan Tannehill his days in Tennessee appear over. Mariota is only 26 and could very well get starting offers. But if not? He wouldn’t be cheap, but he’s played in the postseason, he won a playoff game (in K.C.) and you’d feel good about his ability to go in and win games if he had to play.
THE SECOND TIER
CHASE DANIEL: The 33-year-old Daniel, who spent 2016 here, didn’t play badly for the Bears the last two years when Mitch Trubisky was hurt and is now a free agent. Does he still harbor ill will for getting bypassed for the starting job when Sam Bradford was traded? Maybe. If not he’d actually make sense.
COLT MCCOY: The 33-year-old journeyman has won 7 of 28 career starts and has nearly as many INTs (27) in his career as touchdowns (29). He’s a free agent. He’s available. I don’t want him.
GENO SMITH: It seems like he’s been around forever, but Geno is only 29 and headed into free agency. He’s got plenty of experience – 40 career starts – but he’s only thrown 96 passes since the start of the 2015 season and has no playoff experience. Hard to get excited about Geno but they could do worse.
TEDDY BRIDGEWATER: Good free agency timing for Bridgewater, who went 5-0 this year with a 99.1 passer rating in five starts in place of injured Drew Brees. I assume he’s going to get a sizable contract and a chance to start – either somewhere else as a UFA or with the Saints if Drew Brees retires. On the small chance that doesn’t happen? I’d go after him in a second.
JAMEIS WINSTON: Probably the last thing you want is a backup quarterback who turns the ball over constantly. Winston this year became not only the first QB to throw for 5,000 yards with 20 INTs, he became the first QB to throw for 5,000 yards and 30 INTs. He’s a talented kid and somebody will give him at least a chance to start.
NICK FOLES: It’ll never happen for about 1,000 reasons, but I’m sure the Jaguars would love to unload his contract and turn things over to Gardner Minshew.
OK, MAYBE NOT
BRETT HUNDLEY: Hundley has only taken a few snaps the last couple years after starting nine games for the Packers in 2017. He didn’t play well in those nine games. He does have some experience and is a free agent. Long-shot but could be in the mix.
KYLE LAULETTA: After the Eagles released rookie 5th-round pick Clayton Thorson at the end of training camp, they signed Lauletta, the Giants 2018 4th-round pick, to their practice squad, where he remained all year. Lauletta, the only QB the Eagles have under contract other than Wentz, has a live arm, but are the Eagles ready to turn the No. 2 job over to him? No way.
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