According to NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport, the Eagles are expected to explore trade options for QB Nick Foles.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 6, 2019
While it was expected that the Eagles would hand the reigns back over to Carson Wentz at the end of the season, the possibility of trading Nick Foles looked to have run its course when Howie Roseman elected to keep the Super Bowl MVP as an insurance policy for Wentz again.
That is apparently not the case as the Eagles will open the phone lines for a trade when the season is over.
Some initial thoughts on a potential deal for Foles:
Sorry Foles stans
A new coalition to make Nick Foles the face of the franchise and cast out Carson Wentz has formed after the Eagles won three straight games to get into the playoffs. Pulling off two magical runs into the postseason within a year, it is hard to blame some fans for loving what Foles has done for the city of Philadelphia.
The memories he helped to create will last a lifetime.
But baring another Super Bowl victory (and even then who knows), it was always expected that Wentz would return under center when he returned to full health. Head Coach Doug Pederson has said for weeks that Wentz is the guy.
The Eagles could have the best of both worlds
There were many debates in the summer about whether or not the Eagles should trade Foles or keep him as the backup in case of this exact 2018 scenario.
The Eagles kept Foles and it looks to be a great decision.
Not only did Foles come in for an injured Wentz and lead the Eagles to the playoffs again, but the organization could seemingly get at least a second or third round pick for the veteran in the offseason. That will help to replace the day-two pick traded away when the Eagles acquired Golden Tate at the trade deadline.
Another playoff run and a high draft pick. Win-win.
What kind of compensation and leverage the Eagles have will be interesting
The front office could play hard ball last year, holding out for at least a first round pick if a team wanted to make Foles their starting QB. Foles was under contract and with Wentz coming off a torn ACL, there was still a need for a proven backup.
This year there may not be as much leverage. The Eagles can decide to pick up Foles’s $20 million option in an attempt to sign and trade him. If Foles declines the option by giving back $2 million dollars, the organization can elect to use the franchise tag and then trade him.
With many expiring contracts to key players, and an inevitable extension to Wentz, the Eagles will not be able to afford the big cap-hit that the option or tag would have.
Teams would know Philadelphia can’t afford to hold out and stash Foles for another year, perhaps lowering the draft compensation as Rappaport reported.
A factor that could drive up the price is the competition. There could be a lot of veteran-options in free agency (Teddy Bridgewater, Joe Flacco, Ryan Tannehill), but Foles, coming off a historic run to the Super Bowl, followed by another late-season surge to the playoffs, should be the most attractive option between free agency and the draft.
The front office could still get at least a second or third round pick back. That would give the Eagles four picks in rounds 1-3 which could be crucial in helping restock the roster with young talent that may need to replace veterans like Jason Peters and Brandon Graham.
Some silver linings in the Wentz injury
It is never ideal when a team’s franchise quarterback is injured. Especially when the quarterback was an MVP-finalist at full strength. However there are a few silver linings to the injury.
Of course, Foles coming in and helping the team go on a run to the playoffs is the main one. The fact that the Eagles could still get a good draft pick in a trade is a big one too.
If Wentz never injured his back, Foles would have only played in the first two games, which were underwhelming to say the least.
It isn’t likely that Roseman would elect to pick up the option or franchise tag Foles in order to trade him if this playoff push doesn’t happen. And teams wouldn’t be as attracted to the idea of Foles as the unquestioned starter of their franchise.
Who could the Eagles target from 49ers?
It appears the Eagles could be cooking up another trade. This time with the San Francisco 49ers.
49ers have talked to the Eagles about a trade. All I got on that.
— Vincent Frank (@VincentFrankNFL) March 16, 2019
What could Howie Roseman be looking for from San Francisco? The Eagles have already taken care of their DT, WR, and LB needs in free agency by trading for DeSean Jackson, signing Malik Jackson, and L.J. Fort.
They locked up their offensive line core keeping Jason Peters and extending both Jason Kelce and Issac Seumalo.
They even added to the log jam that is the CB position by bringing back Ronald Darby on a one-year deal.
Here are some players the 49ers could be willing to deal to the Eagles that makes sense for Philadelphia.
RB Matt Breida
With the signing of RB Tevin Coleman, the 49ers could be looking to shop one of their running backs.
Breida makes the most sense of anyone on the 49ers for the Eagles to have interest in. At just 24, Breida is young, and on an inexpensive contract which are two things Roseman loves to deal for.
After Jerick McKinnon went down last season, Breida carried the 49ers backfield finishing with 814 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns.
He averaged 5.3 YPC and early on in the season, he was averaging over 7.0 YPC.
That fast start included a Week 2 showing against Detroit that resulted in 138 rushing yards on just 12 carries.
Breida is explosive in short areas, and has the receiving skills Doug Pederson’s offense loves to have in the backfield.
His receiving DVOA (@fboutsiders ) was 2nd in the league behind Kareem Hunt. 44.8% is outrageous.
— Gino Cammilleri (@Gino_LOE) March 16, 2019
The third year running back surpassed 1,000 yards from scrimmage and would be an all-around weapon the Eagles desperately need at RB.
RB Jerick McKinnon
If the 49ers decide to keep Breida as Coleman’s counter-part in the backfield, that could spell the end of Jerick McKinnon in San Francisco before it even got started.
The former Viking signed with the 49ers last offseason and was expected to be Kyle Shanahan’s new version of Coleman but he tore his ACL before the season started.
McKinnon still has three years left on his contract with a $5.7 million cap hit in 2019.
He is only 26 and like Breida, McKinnon can make defenses pay on the ground and through the air.
In 2017 after Dalvin Cook suffered a season-ending injury, McKinnon became an important piece to Minnesota’s offense finishing with 570 rushing yards and 421 receiving yards.
Between 2016 and 2017, McKinnon had 94 receptions. Much like in Shanahan’s offense, Pederson’s offense is better with that kind of RB.
DE Solomon Thomas
The former third overall pick in the 2017 draft hasn’t met that potential in his first two years with the 49ers.
Thomas has just four sacks in two seasons but he could be another young (24 years old), buy-low trade target Howie Roseman takes a chance on.
The 49ers would likely be more willing to deal Thomas after trading and extending DE Dee Ford. San Francisco also holds the second overall pick in a draft class that even Roseman labeled “historic” when it comes to pass rushers.
With Chris Long’s future up in the air, Thomas could be someone the Eagles bring in to compete with Josh Sweat and a rookie if Long doesn’t think more playing time is coming his way for the 2019 season.
If the Eagles do make a trade with the 49ers, San Francisco’s loaded backfield is likely where Philadelphia would like to grab a play-maker from. Expect a deal to involve a draft pick but don’t be surprised if someone like Jalen Mills is also involved.
The CB group is now six-deep after re-signing Darby. With four other young, promising corners to develop and Mills hitting free agency in 2020, it seems likely Philadelphia could look to get some value for him now.
The 49ers already have Richard Sherman and signed former Chargers CB Jason Verrett this offseason but Mills has the versatility to play outside, in the slot, or even at safety.
Mills or a late pick for McKinnon/Breida could make sense for both sides.
T.J. Yeldon fits in Philadelphia
It doesn’t appear the Eagles were in on big names at running back in free agency. Le’Veon Bell signed with the Jets. Tevin Coleman signed with the 49ers. Mark Ingram signed with the Ravens.
Seeing Ingram and Coleman’s deal both in the $5 million a year range has many scratching their heads about why the Eagles potentially didn’t pursue those two on inexpensive contracts.
While Philadelphia could have been in the hunt for both, a lack of interest would certainly concern fans that want to see the organization invest legitimate resources into the position. It is certainly something to keep a closer eye on.
Howie Roseman can be lackadaisical when it comes to RB including last year, failing to replace Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement. However, there is no need to panic just yet. The NFL Draft has talent across all seven rounds.
There are also some intriguing options still out there through trades and free agency that fit what the Eagles want to spend, and how they want to use their backs. Former Jacksonville Jaguars RB T.J. Yeldon is perhaps the most interesting option. And he would be a great fit in Doug Pederson’s offense.
An even cheaper option than Coleman and Ingram
It was a bit surprising seeing Coleman and Ingram get less than expected. If the Eagles weren’t players for either, it could be as a result of their serious interest in the draft class, or their plans to spend even less at the position.
Yeldon could be a cheaper option.
If Coleman and Ingram both got $5 million, it seems evident that Yeldon, a less proven player than the other two, would get less.
The Eagles have not spent significant dollars for a running back since Chip Kelly signed DeMarco Murray in 2015. They have targeted younger, cheaper players.
At 25 years old, Yeldon fits that mold.
The perfect complementary RB
If Yeldon and Corey Clement were the compliments to a rookie the front office invests in, it would be hard to do much better.
The former Alabama prospect has the receiving skills this Eagles offense has valued since the days of Brian Westbrook.
Yeldon has 135 catches in the last three seasons, with a career-high 55 receptions for 487 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns in 2018.
He can make some impressive plays with his hands.
The production is there but he isn’t built like other receiving-backs. At 6’2 218 pounds, Yeldon is a few inches taller, and only two pounds lighter than Jay Ajayi. The majority would agree that Ajayi’s label is that of a power runner.
That allows him to be an option in goal-line and short-yardage situations.
Chunk plays are abundant
Yeldon has the ability to turn a four-yard hole, or a three-yard check down into a 15-30 yard play. He is extremely explosive for his size and he isn’t easy to bring down when he is caught. At Alabama, Yeldon forced 54 tackles in his final collegiate season.
Having that kind of weapon with the five dangerous pass-catchers the Eagles already have could be deadly. Wendell Smallwood isn’t that weapon.
In 2018, Yeldon finished with eight receptions of 15+ yards. Four of which were above 20 yards. Tevin Coleman only had five receptions of 15+ yards.
Compared to Alvin Kamara, an elite pass-catching running back, Yeldon only had seven fewer receptions that went past 15 yards.
Moves the chains on third down
In short and long situations on third down, Yeldon was a focal point for the Jaguars.
Whether it was a passing play or a running play, he was effective in moving the chains.
Being capable of converting through the air and ground with just one running back helps make an offense less predictable.
The Eagles still have quality options if they want to add an RB before the draft. The Browns and Bears are actively shopping Duke Johnson and Jordan Howard. If the front office wants to keep their draft capital however, T.J. Yeldon could be their guy.
On today’s Locked on Eagles:
Analyzing the Eagles signing LB L.J. Fort
DeSean Jackson’s press conference was encouraging
The Giants continue their blueprint of not having a blueprint signing Golden Tate