INDIANAPOLIS — We already know how the biggest Eagles story of the offseason is going to end.
At 4 p.m. on March 13, Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles will become a free agent.
At the annual scouting combine in Indianapolis, Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said the Eagles will not slap a franchise tag on Foles and then attempt to trade him. They’re going to let him walk.
What went into that decision?
It’s hard when you have someone who’s incredibly valuable to your organization at the most important position in sports. At the same time, we’ve had incredible success with him when he’s had to play. Four playoff wins over the last two years, great teammate, a huge resource for Carson (Wentz) and Nate Sudfeld as well.
But at the same time, he deserves an opportunity to lead a team. It’s a goal of his to lead another team and lead another locker room. We feel at this point that it’s the right decision.
There was a thought and report that the Eagles might try to use their franchise tag on Foles with the hope of trading him and gaining compensation this year as opposed to waiting out a compensatory draft pick for the 2020 draft. While that always seemed like a far-fetched idea, the Eagles aren’t even going to try. They’ll likely get back a third-round compensatory pick for next year’s draft.
Roseman wouldn’t get into the rules of the CBA and if the Eagles would have even been allowed to attempt a tag and trade, saying it doesn’t really matter now. I guess he’s right.
But if the Eagles did want to attempt to find a trade partner for Foles, the time to do it would have been this week at the combine. It’s a chance for league executives to meet face-to-face and sometimes trades are easier to make happen. Roseman declined to say whether or not the Eagles explored trade possibilities, but it would make sense if they did want to squeeze some extra compensation out of Foles. Had the Eagles franchise-tagged Foles, they would have needed to fit in his $25 million cap hit by the start of the league year. Now, Foles and his contract will come off the books as soon as free agency starts.
“We made this decision as an organization and we feel very comfortable about it,” Roseman said. “Again, hard decision because someone who means a lot to us professionally and personally. But at the end of the day, as an organization, we felt like it was the right thing to do.”
While Foles will get a chance to test the free agent market, his options seem to be drying up. On Wednesday, Giants coach Pat Shurmur said he expects Eli Manning to be back in 2019 and Raiders GM Mike Mayock called Derek Carr a franchise quarterback. Even the Jaguars weren’t eager to completely close the door on Blake Bortles.
Foles, 30, has stressed the importance of fit when talking about his next NFL stop. There aren’t a ton of options, but Jacksonville still probably seems to be the most likely.
Perhaps the lack of landing spots also helped the Eagles make this decision. They didn't really have any leverage.
At the end of the season, Roseman said the Eagles needed to do what was best for them, but also admitted there was a “respect factor” in dealing with a player as important as Foles. Ultimately, the Eagles are giving the folk hero what he wanted: a chance at free agency.
“It’s an opportunity now, as Howie mentioned, to become a starter in this league and he’s very capable of doing that,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said. “I’m excited for his future.”
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