I’ve been wrong a lot of times in my life. Growing up, I thought clouds came from the Rohm and Haus power plant next to my neighborhood. When driving on I-95, it seemed only logical to me that people actually hated Steven Singer and that he was simply a bad person. It wasn’t until I was twenty years old when I realized the correct phrase was, “play it by ear,” and not, “play it by year” (you know, like play it by the calendar…whatever, this still makes more sense to me). All of these things pale in comparison to how wrong I was about Nick Foles once it was announced Carson Wentz was out for the season. I was also never happier to be wrong in my life. Now, as the Eagles grease the gears for another regular season, there has been some chatter about what to do with Nick Foles. This stems from increasing reports that Carson Wentz is trending toward being healthy and available for the regular season opener. Training camp and preseason is a time where injuries, among other things, can cause teams to make trades they otherwise might not have before. There’s arguments on both sides for what to do with Nick Foles, and the logic that those arguments are based on is absolutely valid.
The Case For
The case for trading Nick Foles basically comes down to Carson Wentz. Wentz, when healthy, is the obvious starter of the Eagles for hopefully the next decade. The job of a GM in the professional sports world is to put your team in the absolute best possible situation for long-term success. Trading Nick Foles could bring you two types of returns: current NFL players that can help out at thin positions such as linebacker, or future draft picks. If doing a trade that consists of one or a mixture of both those returns, then you should do that trade based off the fact that what you have incoming can do more for your franchise’s success than Nick Foles can by sitting behind Carson Wentz on the bench.
An obvious factor when considering doing a trade, however, is the health of your starting quarterback. Are you comfortable with Nate Sudfeld as the backup for Carson Wentz? After watching all of Sudfeld’s drop backs against Dallas last season, as well as all of his throws with the Redskins in the 2016 pre-season, it’s clear the quarterback has NFL potential (whether that potential is as a starter or backup, however, is a different question). One thing that is apparent is his ability to go through his reads quickly and make a decision on where he wants to throw the football (even if it isn’t always the best decision, I find this better than being indecisive). With the Redskins, he had more freedom within the offense and threw the ball downfield more. He made some impressive throws, but going deep certainly isn’t where Sudfeld is going to hang his hat. Last season against Dallas, the play calling played right into his strengths by calling numerous screens and five-yard quick hitters. There weren’t many shots taken down the field, and Sudfeld showed good decision making on short throws. He completed 19 of 23 passes for 134 yards in a performance where he stayed well within the offense. If Wentz is healthy, you’re not ever going to have to worry about Sudfeld scoring points and winning you important football games. If Wentz goes down with injury though…you’re relying on someone to lead the Eagles who is largely still a question mark and hasn’t seen significant NFL action. We saw first hand last season how important a capable backup quarterback can be in the NFL, and it ultimately comes down to how confident the Eagles coaching staff is in Nate Sudfeld to be the insurance behind Carson Wentz.
The Case Against
Super Bowl 52 champions. If you’re an emotional Philadelphia sports fans who would rather see the band stay together more than anything else, that’s perhaps the only argument you need to keep Nick Foles around. Of course, there are logical arguments as well. One of those arguments is that Foles’ value around the league isn’t high enough for the Eagles to feel comfortable moving on from him. If you’re not going to receive players that can contribute right now on your depth chart, and the picks being offered are underwhelming, why accept a trade that would send the Super Bowl MVP to another team? It’s worth noting that these things are subject to change as we move closer to the start of the regular season. A team can be impacted by injury, and this can make them desperate. Just look at the Sam Bradford trade a couple of years ago, where the Vikings found themselves in need of an established quarterback and were wiling to part with a first and fourth rounder. If the value of Foles were to increase because of other variables, it would certainly be worth taking a look at – but wouldn’t necessarily mean that the deal would become worth making.
Just like the last argument, it comes down to how you feel about Carson Wentz’ health and how highly you value the backup quarterback position. Nate Sudfeld, despite how fans or coaches feel about his future prospects, is not a proven commodity. With Wentz coming off of a torn ACL and the nature of the way he plays the game, it’s probably not the best idea to trade away someone who is considered one of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL. If Wentz were to miss a period of time this season, something he’s done the past three seasons he’s played football (although, the rib injury his rookie year only cost him the preseason), Foles has proven that you can trust him to lead the team for the duration of that absence. The Eagles have a great mixture of young and veteran talent at almost every position, and the future should still be accounted for when making decisions that can increase the amount of draft picks in your possession, but the team is built to win right now. Trading the best insurance policy – at the most important position in sports – would be foolish for a team that is looking to maintain the success they enjoyed a season ago.
I find myself on the side of the latter argument. I was wrong about Nick Foles before, and I refuse to not trust in him now. Hopefully, he only has to take snaps when the Eagles are blowing out the opposition and Wentz is allowed to rest. If he does find himself playing for an extended period of time, I have the utmost confidence that with him stepping in and the rest of the Eagles roster as complete as it is, they’ll still be able to make it into the postseason. Loyalty in professional sports – something that is undeniably a business first and foremost – is hard to come by in today’s age. Keeping Foles around, for at least one more season, is one of the rare times you can make the right decision based on both loyalty and business in pursuit of winning. The argument, at least for me, is settled on that alone.