“I’m not worried about the future but I understand where I stand and every time I wear that jersey is special,” Eagles quarterback Nick Foles said yesterday. “We get one more week together, at least.”
By Peter Gleason
Sunday’s Saints game may be quarterback Nick Foles’ last game in Midnight Green.
The Super Bowl 52 MVP knows he’ll probably be drawing a big bucks paycheck somewhere else in 2019.
The Eagles (10-7) face the Saints (13-3) in a NFC divisional playoff game on Sunday thanks to Foles’ heroics in the clutch again.
He filled in when Carson Wentz sustained a knee injury in 2017 and led the Eagles to their first NFL title since 1960, going 5-0 in games that he started and finished.
Foles returned to the starting lineup after a back injury sidelined Wentz last month and has led the Eagles to four straight wins, including a 16-15 comeback victory at Chicago in the wild-card round. Facing the NFL’s stingiest defense, Foles tossed a 2-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate on fourth down with 56 seconds remaining.
But no matter how far Foles can take the Eagles, it probably won’t change his standing on the team.
Wentz is the franchise quarterback. He finished third in NFL MVP voting in his second season as a pro. He returned quickly after surgery to repair two torn knee ligaments, started 11 games and posted career highs in completion rate (69.6 percent) and passer rating (102.2) despite battling inconsistency and injury.
“He’s the guy we drafted and moving forward, he’s our quarterback,” coach Doug Pederson said, repeating the same thought several times.
The Eagles must decide by mid-February if they want to exercise a $20 million option to keep Foles for 2019. That’s a big price to pay a backup, though Wentz is scheduled to make a base salary of $720,000 next season with a salary cap total of about $8.5 million.
If the team declines the option, Foles becomes a free agent. If the option is picked up, Foles has five days to choose whether to accept it or void it and pay back a $2 million signing bonus. The Eagles could exercise the option and trade Foles. His salary would become fully guaranteed on March 18, the fifth day of the league year.
Wentz is under team control through 2020 and the Eagles could offer him a new long-term deal now before his asking price skyrockets.
Foles vs. Wentz has dominated conversation among fans, but not within the Eagles top management.
Or so they say.
Foles has already won a Super Bowl and he’s 25-12 as a starter in Philly, going back to his first stint with the team from 2012-14. He has the highest winning percentage (.676) in franchise history.
While outsiders argue the merits of both, it has not been uncomfortable for two talented quarterbacks who are close friends and share a special bond.
“Both guys are brothers in Christ first and foremost so that’s a big part of their relationship,” Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz said.
“They understand that football is not the most important thing to them so they relate extremely well in many other things. They’re extremely happy for the other guy’s success.
“You don’t find that everywhere. You don’t find that very often on the same team let alone the same position, but that is what’s different about this team. Guys truly care about one another and are happy for the other man’s success.”