This is the first segment of a group of pieces breaking down the Eagles’ position groups with an eye toward predicting a final 53-man roster. Naturally, we’ll start with the quarterbacks. The biggest question here isn’t who will be starting for the Eagles in Washington September 1st, but how many quarterbacks the Eagles will keep on the roster and which ones they might be.
Lock: Carson Wentz
The first quarterback since Donovan McNabb to start 16 games for the Eagles, Wentz’ future has been synonymous with the Eagles’ since they traded up to select him second overall in the 2016 draft. Every step the franchise has made since drafting him has reaffirmed their belief in the second year signal caller. They traded Sam Bradford to the Vikings and started Wentz Week 1 last season and surrounded him with Alshon Jeffery, LeGarrette Blount, and Torrey Smith this off-season.
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Going into year two, Wentz’ off-season has been focused on mechanics and developing chemistry (see the just-completed North Dakota retreat) with his new — and old — weapons. His status as the Eagles starting quarterback is not in doubt.
The Bubble: Nick Foles, Matt McGloin
One of these two will certainly be Eagles, and Foles appears to have the early advantage. He has been the second man up after Wentz in practice this summer, signed the more expensive contract, and has a history with the organization and coaches that drafted him.
Shortly after ridding themselves of Chase Daniel’s three year, $21 million contract, deemed excessive for a backup quarterback, the Eagles signed Foles to a two year, $11 million deal. With leftover money for Daniel still counting against the cap, they now have more dedicated to the position than before. Clearly they thought Foles more worth the investment, and for good reason.
While Daniel filled a valuable role importing the playbook of first-year coach Doug Pederson, he remains a player with 78 career pass attempts. Foles, by comparison, has won as a starter (20-16 in his career, including a 1-5 record as a rookie with the aimless 2012 Eagles) and a backup (stepping in to win two games for the Chiefs last season when Alex Smith was injured.)
The height of his career was the 2013 season in Philadelphia where he threw 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions and led the team on a 7-1 finishing run to make the post-season. Since being traded for Bradford, he lost the job in Los Angeles (ultimately supplanted by Jared Goff, taken one pick before Wentz) and served as a mid-season replacement in Kansas City.
McGloin meanwhile, also has a more extensive history than Daniel, but his career has not reached the heights of Foles'. He was similarly pressed into starting duty early, where the undrafted rookie went 1-5 with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. More recently he has served as the backup to Derek Carr but missed a chance to start the Raiders first playoff appearance in over a decade when he was injured in Week 17 last season. He has signed a one year, $800,000 contract.
So while Foles appears more likely to make the team as a second-string option, McGloin would give the Eagles the most qualified third option they have had in quite some time. Three quarterbacks haven’t thrown a pass during a season for the Eagles since 2014, when Matt Barkley had one incompletion in relief of Mark Sanchez against the Panthers. That game came the week immediately following Foles’ own season-ending (and it turned out, time with the Eagles ending) injury.
While the dedication of cap resources to the position last off-season after the extension of Bradford, signing of Daniel and drafting of Wentz was appropriately questioned, it hasn’t been that long since fans were very familiar with all three quarterbacks on the roster. While Koy Detmer and A.J. Feeley weren’t exactly pulling in the contracts the modern backups are, the Eagles should think twice about keeping both Foles and McGloin around if they think one could do as good a job from the third-string as Feeley once did.
Practice Squad: Dane Evans
It’s been G.J. Kinne; it’s been Aaron Murray, and when it was most interesting, it was Tim Tebow. This year the training camp quarterback with the longest-odds at a roster spot is Dane Evans. As we just discussed there’s a long string of established names above the undrafted rookie from Tulsa who passed through the Jets’ camp on his way to the Eagles. But none of them are eligible for the practice squad, where Evans could wind up. In that way, he could have as much to say about whether three quarterbacks make the 53-man roster as McGloin or Foles do.
He’s a developmental quarterback to be sure, but that’s probably just the type of player Pederson is itching to get his hands on. The main hype around Evans comes from his arm strength, and raining deep throws on his opponents let him find his way to the top of the Tulsa record book (dropping Kinne to third in the career yards and touchdown rankings along the way.) Keep an eye on him. If the Eagles are confident enough that Evans can be an emergency starter in a worst-case scenario, they can rest their third quarterback on the practice squad and free up a precious 53-man spot for someone at a different position.