As expected, the Nick Foles vs. Carson Wentz debate was a hot topic when Eagles executive vice president of personnel Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson met with the media on Tuesday afternoon.
Pederson, though, shut down any talk about who the starting quarterback will be in 2019 with the very first question posed during the 30-minute briefing.
“Carson is the quarterback going forward,” said the coach. “And in Nick's case, listen, we would love to have everybody back throughout the roster. But as I've said many, many times, it's not about one guy. It's about the team. We're going to do what's best for the team.”
As for Foles and what comes next with him, Roseman didn’t reveal much.
“It always has to be what's best for our football team and the Philadelphia Eagles,” said Roseman. “We have to make decisions based on that. There is also a respect factor for guys that have done a lot for us and been part of it. We try to factor that in as well, but the bottom line is we have to do what's best for our football team to help us win games going forward.”
Roseman gave up a little more about Foles later in the news conference.
“We would love to keep Nick Foles,” said Roseman. “You talk about a guy who we drafted here and we've grown incredibly close with. I don't know a team that wouldn't want to have Nick Foles on their roster. Certainly, as we go into the substance of those discussions - we haven't had them yet - but there is no question we love having Nick Foles as an Eagle in Philadelphia and we would love to keep him.”
My reaction to that: Foles is gone and the Eagles want to keep this as civil as possible. No muss, no fuss.
While Roseman wants to do what’s best for the Eagles, which means trying to get a draft pick in return for Foles, he knows this thing could blow up quickly, if, for instance, the Eagles try to put the franchise tag on Foles and hope to trade him.
The best course of action is to make a clean break and not pick up the $20 million option year on Foles’ deal, thereby allowing him to become a free agent and pick the team he feels best fits his style.
Letting Foles hit free agency would, in turn, deliver the Eagles a compensatory pick in the 2020 draft – probably a third-rounder.
Take it and call it a day.
Here is more of my reaction on some other topics during the news conference.
QUESTION: I know evaluations are ongoing still, but can you say with any certainty right now that your three coordinators will return in 2019?
DOUG PEDERSON: You're accurate in saying this is a week of evaluations. We are going to get through our roster this week as well. That's what the coaches are doing. Yeah, my three coordinators will be back.
MY REACTION: It’s the right call. Continuity goes a long way in being successful.
Mike Groh took a lot of heat, mostly because the offense struggled early in games but even more so because he wasn’t former offensive coordinator Frank Reich. Giving him another year can only benefit Groh and the team.
As for defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, he has also taken his fair share of heat for being inflexible when it comes to scheming. But Schwartz took a banged up secondary and made that unit good enough to make the Divisional round of the playoffs.
Special teams weren’t always very good. In fact, they were below typical Eagles standards. But how much of that was on Dave Fipp or the revolving door on those units due to injury and depleted depth?
QUESTION: The Golden Tate trade, did that work out the way you wanted, and do you stand by the price (third-round draft pick) you paid for him?
ROSEMAN: No question. When we made the trade, we were 4-4. We were looking for a spark. We were looking for more firepower on offense. When you talk about Golden, here is a guy who has incredible character, incredible production, can really fit any scheme. Everyone in this building was incredibly excited about adding him to our football team. We knew the price to pay.
We wanted to make a playoff run. We wanted to make sure that we were putting our team in a position to do that. And we're always going to put our foot on the gas. It doesn't mean we're always going to be right, but we don't look back with regret. We look back at our process, and I feel very good about our process.
We’re going to be aggressive, and when we are swinging and we’re going to be aggressive, we feel like we're going to be right a lot more than wrong. In this case, feel very good about that. And you saw the contributions that he made in a big game. The stage isn't too big for Golden Tate.
MY REACTION: Correct. While it took some time to integrate Tate and it may have taken away some of the snaps for Dallas Goedert, the deal did give the team a spark, as it went 5-3 and did make the postseason. Tate’s fourth-and-goal catch with less than a minute to play that beat the Bears was what put the deal over the top.
QUESTION: When you look at the upcoming draft, what are some of the positions you think are strong and what are some that are not so strong?
ROSEMAN: You know, last year when we made the trade to go back in the second round, our scouts did a great job. Joe's [vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas] staff had done a great job of looking forward to this draft and seeing and anticipating what the strengths would be.
It's clearly a very good defensive line group. Probably a historical defensive line group, and that's both at end and tackle. The quarterback class, probably at the top, is a little bit less than it has been the last couple years. You had a draft last year where five [quarterbacks] were taken in the first round. It was probably heavier at the top of the running back class.
We have been through this process a little bit here, and we've got to catch the coaches up a little bit on it, because it's a process that starts in May for us last year.
As it comes out, it's a record number of underclassmen who have publicly declared, and we'll factor those guys into the process too and get all the information and figure out exactly where all the strengths are. That’s probably an easier discussion to have when we meet again in April.
MY REACTION: Start brushing up on the draft because the Eagles will take a defensive lineman with their first pick, which is the 25th one overall. Unless it’s a running back or a left tackle or …. so many ways to go, but I’m calling it now – defensive tackle.