BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Philly, we have a quarterback controversy.
It will not be as contentious as Joe Montana vs. Steve Young or as explosive as Phil Simms vs. Jeff Hostetler because Carson Wentz, who would have been the regular season MVP if he didn’t rip up his knee late in the season, and Nick Foles, who was the Super Bowl MVP, really do like and root for each other.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson thought he was going to escape his Monday morning day-after press conference without having to answer how he plans to handle Wentz and Foles now that Foles is the No. 1 hero in the history of Philadelphia sports after delivering the Eagles first championship since 1960.
Foles slugged it out with the Tom Brady in Super Bowl LII and it was Brady, the greatest quarterback in NFL history, who made the crucial mistake with the game on the line.
All Wentz did this season was throw 33 TDs, 7 INTs with an 11-2 record before tearing his ACL and LCL in the 13th game. All Foles did was throw for 373 yards and three TDs in the Super Bowl. That is a nice QB depth chart.
So, with the final question Monday, I asked Pederson if Wentz was still his starter or whether he would have an open competition in training camp and could a Super Bowl MVP return to his role as a backup. He said he knew he couldn’t get off the podium without facing what will be the No. 1 hot button topic in Philly the entire offseason.
“You know what? We’re just going to enjoy this moment,” Pederson said. “We’ve got a long offseason…a really short offseason now. I’m happy for Nick. I’m happy for the team. It’s not about one guy. It’s about the team. We’re going to enjoy these next few days.”
Can Foles ever be content as a backup again? Can he go from Super Bowl MVP back to the Eagles bench or is he really being forthcoming with his pledge of allegiance to the Eagles?
“I’m grateful to be a part of the Philadelphia Eagles,” Foles said Monday. “I said when I signed with the Eagles that I am grateful and content in this moment. I’m staying in the moment. I’m not worried about my future right now. There will be a time and a place to handle all that. I take a lot of pride in wearing the Philadelphia Eagles jersey. I just enjoy being here.”
Foles’ market value will never be higher if GM Howie Roseman elects to trade him. But teams need to be concerned if he is a two-game wonder in a system that fit him perfectly and a coach that played to his strengths. He was a bust with the Rams and was a backup with the Chiefs after playing well early in his career in his first stop in Philly.
He seems like a genuine guy who has been through enough adversity that he just wants to stay where he is comfortable. He has one year left on his contract and any team that would be interested in trading for him (Cardinals, Jets, Vikings, Broncos, Browns) would insist on signing him to an extension if they are going to give up a second-round pick. There’s a lucrative contract that would come with switching teams.
But, he loves the Eagles.
“It’s such a great team. I’m excited for Carson Wentz coming back healthy,” Foles said. “I get to work with him every day. The dude’s a stud. I’m just living in the moment. I’m not thinking ahead.”
Hostetler, Foles and Doug Williams are the only quarterbacks to start fewer than three games during the regular season and win the Super Bowl. Hoss was not Super Bowl MVP, but he had a lot to do with the Giants getting to the game and then winning it. They each started the opener the next season.
So, what will the Eagles do about Foles?
He signed a two-year $ 11 million deal to return to the Eagles this season after Chip Kelly traded him to the Rams in 2015. He received a $ 3 million signing bonus and $ 1 million base salary in 2017. Next season, he is due to be paid $ 7 million with a $ 4 million base and $ 3 million roster bonus.
Considering that Wentz is coming off a major injury not even two months ago, Foles will be a cost-efficient insurance policy especially with Wentz still on his rookie deal with a salary of just $ 1,662,561.
Wentz is already a superstar. Foles played great in 2013 and not again until the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl. In the two biggest games of his life, his totals: 54-of-76 (71%) for 725 yards with six TDs and one INT (it bounced off Alshon Jeffery’s hands).
Can he possibly beat out Wentz?
As long as Wentz is healthy, it’s virtually certain he gets his job back. Foles is a great story but Wentz is the Eagles present and future. The starting quarterback is the most important player on the roster. The backup quarterback might be as high as No. 2 but no lower than No. 5 behind a pass rusher, left tackle and cover corner. Wentz is such a physical player, not afraid to take hits, that having a Super Bowl MVP as a backup is a very good idea.
Pederson was standing on the podium with Wentz with the confetti coming down after the Super Bowl. He gave him advice in what had to be a bittersweet moment for Wentz. This had been his team and at this moment it wasn’t.
“I just told him to take this in. Just enjoy this moment. You’re a big, big part of why this team won this championship and won this game,” he said. “I told him hopefully we’ll be back in this game with him leading the way.”
For now, until Pederson makes an announcement, Philly has a little bit of a quarterback controversy.