The big news Wednesday regarding Nick Foles’ future was what would not be happening with the veteran quarterback.
The Philadelphia Eagles announced they have decided against placing the franchise tag on Foles, allowing him to become a free agent after serving as the NFL’s most celebrated backup the past two years.
“He deserves an opportunity to lead a team,” said Howie Roseman, Philadelphia’s executive vice president of football operations. “It’s a goal of his to lead another team and lead another locker room.”
The Eagles picked up Foles’ $20-million option earlier this month, an option he then voided to initiate the process of becoming a free agent.
The team had the choice of placing the franchise tag on Foles and attempting to trade him. The decision to not do so suggests a market for Foles wasn’t developing to Philadelphia’s liking.
“It’s hard when you have someone who’s incredibly valuable to your organization at the most important position in sports,” Roseman said. “And at the same time, we’ve had incredible success with him when he’s had to play.”
In 2017, Foles took over after starter Carson Wentz suffered a knee injury in Week 14 against the Rams. He led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title and was named the game’s MVP.
He remained the starter to open the 2018 season before Wentz fully recovered and returned.
After a back injury sidelined Wentz in December, Foles again took over and led Philadelphia back to the playoffs. The Eagles beat Chicago in the wild-card round and then lost to New Orleans.
Foles, 30, will become the highest-profile free-agent quarterback on the market in March. His potential suitors include Jacksonville, Miami and Washington.
Rivers, Manning successors?
He has a veteran quarterback who has been a long-time starter and franchise face. But he might draft another quarterback in April anyway.
He’s Tom Telesco of the Chargers but also Dave Gettleman of the New York Giants, the biggest difference being that Telesco’s veteran is still playing well while Gettleman’s is Eli Manning.
Both general managers could draft a young, potential heir apparent quarterback in two months — under vastly opposing circumstances.
Philip Rivers, 37, is coming off one of his finest seasons in 13 years as a starter, his 2018 performance a reminder of the Chargers’ good fortune, particularly when contrasted against what the Giants are facing.
Manning, 38, struggled throughout last season and continues to face questions about his worthiness of remaining a starter. He has not won a playoff game for the Giants since leading them to the Super Bowl title in the 2011 season.
“You can’t be afraid to draft over a player,” Gettleman said. “The more competition you can create, the better your team will be. And you have to create competition at every position.”
The Chargers took Manning No. 1 overall in 2004 but then traded him to the Giants for Rivers and two draft picks that eventually became kicker Nate Kaeding and linebacker Shawne Merriman.
Given Rivers’ durability — he has started 208 consecutive games — the Chargers haven’t been compelled to draft a quarterback since 2013, when they took Brad Sorensen in the seventh round.
The question about whether this will be the year the Chargers draft someone as Rivers’ possible replacement has become an annual exercise. The possible names in this time include Daniel Jones of Duke, Drew Lock of Missouri and Jarrett Stidham of Auburn.
Mayock the GM
As a top NFL draft analyst, Mike Mayock once conducted marathon conference calls with reporters, breaking down prospects who were evaluated at the NFL combine.
On Wednesday, in his new role Oakland’s general manager, Mayock was limited to 15 minutes on the podium.
“I am the rookie,” he said of his role in an organization that features coach Jon Gruden.
The Raiders are coming off a tumultuous 4-12 season in Gruden’s first year as coach. Mayock replaced Reggie McKenzie.
Mayock said he had opportunities to join other organizations through the years before joining the Raiders.
“What made it right for me was the people,” he said.
Mayock said he met with Raiders scouts for two weeks for 12 hours a day during the run-up to the combine. After operating as a “lone ranger” evaluating prospects as an analyst, he said he was happy to be part of an organization “you have skin in the game with.”
Bengals Ross on block?
Two years ago, John Ross was the talk of the NFL scouting combine.
The former Long Beach Jordan High and University of Washington standout blazed to a time of 4.22 seconds in the 40-yard dash, breaking the combine record of 4.24 set by running back Chris Johnson in 2008.
Ross parlayed his college performance and that 40 time into becoming the ninth player chosen in the 2017 draft.
He became the topic of combine discussion again this week after NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Cincinnati Bengals were “shopping” him.
Ross did not catch a pass in three games as a rookie. He caught 21 passes for 210 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
Duke Tobin, the Bengals’ director of player personnel, said the team had had no internal or external discussions about trading Ross.
“That’s not in our plans,” Tobin said.
Tobin said many players, not only Ross, were “looking to find their niche” in the offense of new Bengals coach Zac Taylor, who was the Rams’ quarterback coach in 2018.
“It won’t just be John,” Tobin said. “We’re certainly not giving up on him in any way.”
First, running back Le’Veon Bell opted to sit out the season and then wide receiver Antonio Brown made very public his desire to play elsewhere.
Still, general manager Kevin Colbert insisted Pittsburgh is not rotting from the inside.
“I really don’t agree with the perception that there’s huge drama within the Pittsburgh Steelers’ locker room," he said. “Coach [Mike] Tomlin treats our players like men. He gives them the opportunity to be a man and he tries to grow them not only as professional football players, but as fathers, brothers and just as men. So, really, I have complete disagreement with the perception.”