The day after it ended, only a large handful of hours following the Eagles’ crushing 20-14 loss to New Orleans in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game, the players cleaned out their lockers, said their goodbyes and walked out of the NovaCare Complex into what is, for many of them, an uncertain future. That’s the nature of the business. Only one NFL team is happy at the end of the season and, guaranteed, the locker room changes dramatically in the months ahead.
In the midst of that gloom, quarterbacks Nick Foles and Carson Wentz took their turns addressing the media. It’s likely the media will spend the next few months, at least, talking about Foles and Wentz.
One full season after winning Super Bowl LII, the Eagles face an interesting crossroads. They rallied in 2018 to reach the playoffs and go two rounds deep in the postseason. They made us all proud. They played hard. They showed heart and fight.
And now they have major decisions to make for an aging roster, and none of them are more important than the one at the quarterback position.
All along, the Eagles have remained consistent with the party line: Wentz is the long-term answer at quarterback, and Foles is a tremendously important investment as a No. 2.
That said, Foles has been the one leading the Eagles in the postseason the last two years and, well, he’s got himself a Super Bowl Most Valuable Trophy and a newfound respect around the NFL based on his performance. He also wants to have a chance, in 2019 and beyond, to start on a regular basis.
“I would like to lead a team and be the guy,” Foles said. “But I’m keeping all of my options open and everything is out on the table.”
Foles has a contract for the 2019 season that would pay him $20 million for the year and there are options beyond that contract situation that would make the contract void, and most expect that Foles will become an unrestricted free agent and pick his next team or that the Eagles will use the franchise tag on Foles and trade him and that Wentz will be the team’s undisputed (there has never been a dispute within the Eagles’ organization) starting quarterback for years to come.
The future of the franchise hinges in large part on the quarterback position, the most vital piece on any sports team. Wentz, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2016, returned from a 2017 knee injury and threw 21 touchdown passes and seven interceptions in 2018, but he didn’t look like the pre-injury Wentz. He was tentative at times. He held onto the ball too much. His ball security wasn’t where it needed to be.
“Going forward, my focus is to get my body right and to play freely like I did back last year before the injury and cut it loose and get rid of all that pressure, anxiety, or whatever it may be and just play the game freely,” Wentz said of the 2017 season when he had 33 touchdown passes and seven interceptions.
If this was the end of Nick Foles’ time as a starting quarterback in Philadelphia, then he deserves a big “thank you” from every one of us. He brought home the Lombardi Trophy, after all.
Wentz is the present, and the future, and the Eagles won’t wait too far into the offseason to resolve the biggest question on the roster, something the fans and the media are likely to debate long after whatever moves are going to be made are done and the quarterback picture is cleared up moving into 2019. ••