INDIANAPOLIS – It took the Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL’s most raucous fan base 52 years to win its first-ever Super Bowl, but they’re about to find out how much harder winning the second one can be.
Although no other team won rings in 2017, we enter 2018 with no other team in the NFL in worse salary cap shape than Philadelphia. The Eagles currently stand — depending on who you listen to — somewhere between $6.5 million and $12 million over a projected $178 million cap.
And then there’s the issue of the two-headed quarterback monster in Carson Wentz, an NFL MVP favorite until tearing his ACL in Week 13, and reigning Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles.
General manager Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson would love to be able to keep both, but is that realistic?
On the face of it, Foles’ $7.6 million cap hit would appear impossible for the Eagles to absorb for a backup.
There is no debate that, if healthy, Wentz is still the future.
But when you consider $5.4 million of Foles’ deal is dead money, and the savings from moving him is just $2.2 million, the puzzle Eagles brass has to solve is trickier.
When queried at the Combine Wednesday about Foles’ future in Philadelphia, Roseman went out of his way to be as vague as possible.
“We’re trying to keep as many good players as possible,” Roseman said. “You’re talking about the Super Bowl MVP. He’s got great character, great leadership. That room is exactly what we’re looking for.
“We have a franchise quarterback. We have the Super Bowl MVP. And we have a young quarterback (Nate Sudfeld) as well.
“As we get started with the offseason, we have a lot of areas that we have to address.
“Our intention is to keep all of our good players.”
The problem with that, Mr. Roseman, is unless you’ve got bad players to shed, with your cap issues, you can’t keep all the good ones.
Still, when it comes to his quarterbacks, Roseman is quite possessive.
“As we sit here, obviously we have a tremendous amount of confidence in our franchise quarterback Carson Wentz. A tremendous amount of confidence in Nick Foles, the Super Bowl MVP. And we have tremendous confidence in Nate (Sudfeld).
“When you put your head on your pillow at night, that’s something that gives us some comfort.”
For his part, Pederson seems a bit more transparent and realistic about the situation. Asked whether Nick Foles will have a say in a possible trade destination, he said, “Well, I think you’ve got to have that conversation. I’m a big believer, you don’t just blindside a player like that, if that happens. I think you gotta have that open communication with him.
“And we’ll see. We’ll see where it goes. Howie just mentioned, we’d love to have everybody back, but we know the nature of the business.”
There is also this nugget from a source very close to the Eagles front office.
“Carson is a great kid, a better teammate and he couldn’t be happier for Foles and everyone on the team – except himself.
"As much as he enjoyed the whole Super Bowl experience, he’s terribly frustrated and disappointed he couldn’t play; and obsessive about getting back and determined to win a ring of his own."
For all the right reasons, Wentz is going to do everything he can to keep Foles on the bench.
Then there’s this: If he's on the roster in February of 2019, Foles will become a free agent next offseason. His value to the Eagles diminishes greatly after this draft and is gone completely after the ’18 trade deadline.
Keep this in mind: the Eagles never really decided to deal Sam Bradford; the Vikings just made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.
There is a sense here at the combine that this year’s QB crop may not finally get slotted until the status of free agents — Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum and Bradford — in addition to Foles is settled.
We may not be waiting for Roseman and Pederson to make a decision on Foles. We could be waiting to see if someone makes the Eagles another offer they can’t refuse.