What the Smith Trade Tells Us About Kelly And Foles

Chip Kelly wants to hold onto Nick Foles. It has been said. It has been repeated. It has been ignored.

Now there is a little weight behind the words.

On Wednesday, news came down that the Chiefs acquired Alex Smith for the 34th overall pick in April’s draft and a conditional pick in 2014. This days after reports surfaced that Andy Reid was in pursuit of his old quarterback, and had his advances denied.

“He’s not available,” Reid said at the Combine. “You just had Howie [Roseman] up here, so I think you know that…Listen, Nick is the property of the Philadelphia Eagles, and I think they like him.”

The fact that it is Smith heading to Kansas City instead of Foles bolsters that argument.

There was plenty of speculation about Foles’ future even after Kelly flatly stated: “I want to coach Nick.” Many took that as posturing — saying anything else would only decrease his value on the trade market. Plus, Kelly likes mobile quarterbacks. He relied on them at Oregon. He re-worked Michael Vick‘s deal to keep him in the fold, then signed former Duck Dennis Dixon. It is easy to paint the picture of Foles being the odd man out. I’m sure even the Foles camp braced itself for a potential change of address.

Kelly has maintained, though, that he is looking for the best football players, and is willing to adjust his attack to play to the strengths of his personnel. Maybe he means it. If so, it should come as a great relief to Eagles fans. Discarding superior players in the name of scheme on this level is a recipe for disaster, especially when it comes to signal-callers. Quality quarterbacks are the rarest commodity on Earth. To jettison one because he is not mobile enough is bad business, plain and simple. And to limit the pool to only QBs who can run really increases the degree of difficulty of landing a good one.

Maybe Foles is the real deal and maybe he’s not, but it seems like the Eagles want to find out for sure before going in a different direction.

“Foles is a talented guy, and we just drafted him last year,” said Roseman. “I think this is a different situation than we’ve had the past couple of years where we had quarterbacks. We like the player. … We’re trying to accumulate good, young players. We’re not in the business of trying to get rid of good, young players.”

Could the Eagles have gotten the same return for Foles that the Niners did for Smith? On one hand, Smith is the more proven of the two.  He has led his team to 13 wins in a single season. Foles has started in six NFL games total, winning one of them. On the other hand, Foles is four years younger, and is scheduled to make only $500,000 this season, compared to Smith’s $8.5 million salary. Reid really likes Foles — that much is a fact. Who is to say he wouldn’t have ponied up to get him?

He at the very least inquired, and the Eagles said no. Maybe there is a future for Foles with Kelly after all — at least in the short term.

“I want to coach Nick, and I want to get a chance to spend time with him and see him,” said Kelly. “I’ve said it before. I was a big fan of his. The way he plays the game, his toughness, his ability to throw the ball very accurately. So I want to get a chance to hopefully get him out on the practice field and see what Nick has.”

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  • ACViking

    The theory all makes sense . . . except for the re-signing of Vick, especially if he’s a short-timer.

    If Foles doesn’t beat out Vick, Foles’ value — especially to the one team who most wanted him — has plummeted. So the chance to get a premium draft choice for Foles is gone.

    If Foles does beat out Vick, but Kelly stills wants a mobile QB, the Eagle again wasted a chance to get a premium pick.

    The only scenario in which keeping Foles makes sense is if Kelly means what he says about (i) Foles, and (ii) building his scheme to fit his personnel [unlike the last coach].

    And if those two assumptions are right . . . why did the Eagles keep Vick?

    • nicksaenz1

      I think you may be reading into the keeping of Vick a little too much….

      Maybe he truly meant the open QB competition. If Foles beats out Vick, I don’t think it hurts Vick’s value as much as Vick beating out Foles hurts Foles’ value. This is either a) an audition year for Vick’s next team, b) he’s a trade chip for a team that come camp, doesn’t necessarily like what they have going on, or c) he’s a serviceable backup should Foles go down on a team that can easily eat the 7.5mil since they have 30+mil in cap space so far. People already know what Vick can do and I don’t see a trade scenario where the likes of Vick commands anything more than a 4th round pick, anyway.
      Also, maybe the front office and/or Chip Kelly don’t see a lot of good free agent options or draft options and keeping Vick for 1 more year at half the cost was considered the best option until either next year’s draft or free agent options (assuming Kelly doesn’t like what he has after this year). Too many unknowns, at least until the draft is over, to jump to conclusions about Vick’s or Foles’ value at this point in time.
      I do agree, however, that if Foles flames out in camp, it hurts his value a little, but there are still GMs would offer a decent pick (3rd or 4th rd) given that he truly could go against everything Chip Kelly wants to do, and a different GM/coach values the kind of player he is for their system.

      That’s just how I look at it.

      • Ggeagle

        Starting QB spot isn’t often handed out before a new coach ever sees them play…especially to a guy who’s contract you just cut by like 4 years and 97million dollars. Of course it’s a open QB competition..lGeez

    • peteike

      Because Foles is so cheap, even with both Vick and Foles salaries, its not that much for that position and you get to have them compete. Meaning he doesnt really know what he has with either of them but wants to find out. Thats my only guess, but good post.

    • Bdawkbdawk

      I’m not completely buying into Tim’s theory either, but I don’t think that it’s because of the Vick signing. When Foles was coming out of Arizona he was billed as a gritty competitor with good size and a good arm. However, his footwork was a little sloppy and he was a little raw. There is no reason to rush a player of Foles’ caliber and makeup. I would not be upset if Chip just had his coaches work with Foles, kept his reps up, and familiarized him with his play style while we have Vick on a one year rental. This past year is an anomoly. Coaches (especially ones overhauling a roster) like to cultivate Quarterbacks and give them time to develop. Although I like that we gave Foles playing time last year, i think the chaotic gameplan and personnell caused Foles to develop some bad habits. There is no reason to throw him back out there on a team in transition.
      I am skeptical of Tim’s account because we don’t know how Reid valued Smith relative to Foles. And I don’t know why Tim would assume that this represents an endorsement by the Eagles when it could just as easily have been a lackluster offer from KC.

      • southy

        If I’m Andy (and I’m skeptical Andy actually feels this way) I am much happier with Smith. This guy is a former no. 1 pick, meaning he has the physical tools, he’s played winning football, and he doesn’t turn the ball over. Obviously he hasn’t shown that he can put a team on his back, but he’s shown a lot more than Foles to this point. If Andy believes he’s one of the best in the league at coaching up QB’s, he’s gotta love the opportunity.

        Now for all I know he tries to open up Smith’s game with disastrous consequences, which wouldn’t surprise me.

    • The theory doesn’t make sense for the exact reasons you mentioned. Foles will be out because Kelly needs the mobile QB. All of this other talk in just posturing to gain leverage. Sorry friend we just lost out on the only opportunity to get value for Foles.

      • Stephen Stempo

        I love how Eagles fans have embraced chip Kelly by basically saying “Everything this man says is a lie!”

        • UKEagle99

          Personally I’ll judge him and the team as I see them perform (or not). We had some very good years under Andy but it was time to move on. I don’t care what he does with the roster, the players may believe they are better than their record but actually.. no you are not.

          • Eagles

            Really Foles had a good year? Kapernick had a good year, Russell Wison had a good year, Dolphins QB had a good year. Foles barley one 1game had turnovers and several players injured how is that a good year? No Eagle had a good year. On top of that he falls and breaks his own hand real good season!

          • Stephen Stempo
          • UKEagle99

            Where did I say Foles had a good year? I said “We (the Eagles and it’s fans) had (past tense) some (not every year) very good years (NFC Title gaames and a SB appearance) under Andy but it was time to move on”. Anyone who assumes that I was referring to the last 2 years as very good needs to check themselves in to a mental hospital.

    • Mr. Magee

      You nailed it AC… Exactly what I’m thinking.

      And here’s another thought: What do you do with the loser of the QB battle? You have to release either Foles or Vick, because neither one can be a back-up to the other!

      If Vick is the one Kelly goes with, I guess Dixon can be his back-up; if Foles wins the battle, who is his back-up?? Looks like we need yet another viable arm for training camp..

    • What good is it to build a scheme around Foles when you do not have the pieces in places to compliment any of the potential talents Foles may posses? Foles is a WCO Quarterback. The guy doesn’t have the long ball and can’t make the out pattern viable,

      Foles can dink and donk in the middle of the field and is best hitting receivers within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Those talents with DJax and Maclin as your feature receivers isn’t good enough. And Shady in a WCO isn’t a weapon in the passing game. Foles can’t hit DJax deep down field, if you take that out of DJax game he’s not going to give you much crossing the middle.

      Andy couldn’t rely on Foles as he is to lead a talented Offense like Kansas City. Despite their record Kansas has talent with 6 pro bowlers. The last thing Andy needs is a developing QB to keep Bowe, part of any offer attractive to Bowe is finding a suitable QB to get him the ball. Smith is the lessor of the available evils.

  • Tracer Bullet

    Or Roseman’s asking price was too high or, and this is the worst-case scenario, Reid preferred a less-than-impressive veteran with almost no upside over the guy he drafted last year.

    • Johnny Domino

      Or now that Howie has worked KC until they blinked, he can start on the Cardinals. If a team with a lot of other pieces ever needed a QB (with some hometown cred at that) it is Arizona.
      And keep saying all the right things about Foles until he is in camp or out of town, whichever comes first.

  • Damn it.

  • This will be another missed opportunity to trade a player before their value decreases. We should have traded Couturier last year and didn’t. We should have traded Dominic Brown and didn’t. And we should trade Foles.

    • Couturier? Hell no! All the guy is doing in his first two professional seasons as a teenager is carry inferior linemates on his back. Thank goodness the Flyers have started to address it and got Gagne in here to give him some help.


      • theycallmerob

        I’m loving me some Simon. Wish he’d never left. Hope he retires in orange and black.

    • Nick

      We can either take a 50-50 shot at the most important position in football for a mid-round draft pick OR Kelly can see what he has in training camp and have a choice of who he likes best. It’s only a missed opportunity if the team was positive they’d make the right choice in February.

  • theycallmerob

    Great article, Tim. I think you’re spot on in describing the Eagles as wary of giving up on Foles. I can’t imagine any NFL teams were blown away by his 6 games to propose a trade good enough for the Eagles to even consider (especially now with the Chiefs out of the running); he won’t just be given away.

    Also, are you or Sheil familiar with the inner-workings of the NFL anti-doping policy? For instance, would taping cheetahs to Nick Fole’s back be considered a PED?

    • nicksaenz1

      Awesome. Lord knows a sprint coach wouldn’t hurt him.

    • peteike

      because fast QBs always win superbowls as we know. Nick has escapability like Big Ben (I hope, ha) and accuracy. Can improve arm strength, accuracy is harder to improve. Thats why Geno Smith is falling a bit, he seems to have everything else.

      • theycallmerob

        This is more where I was coming from…

        • UKEagle99

          Lol, can we get a bulk deal on Cheetahs? Nnamdi wants 2, although he also needs a bigger car so he can feed them lunch.

      • UKEagle99

        Big Ben has escapability alright, both on and off the football field. I’m sure Chip looked at the numbers and decided to stick with what he had. With the QBs on our roster he has options (no pun intended). He has 2x QBs that can run and 2x QBs that don’t. They will all get a lot of reps and whoever impresses him most will start. I’m not sure what spending $8.5m on Smith gives you over and above that other than he has won 13 games in a season… With so many other positions needing a massive overhaul I think it makes sense. If he’s working McCoy, Brown, Lewis et al then it’s going to be a different life for whoever is the QB back there with play action being respected etc etc…

  • I think this makes it clear that the Eagles could have gotten the #34 pick for Nick (and right now, I wish they had).

    So for everyone saying that Vick will be annointed the starter because of his salary, keep in mind that the Eagles invested a #3 pick in Foles that very conceivably could have been converted into a borderline 1st rounder. That is worth at least as much, but probably much more, to a team than $7 million.

    • theycallmerob

      Man, I’m still unsure about your first sentence. I would make that trade too, but I wonder if the Chiefs actually proposed that to the Eagles. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Alex Smith is otherworldly, but I imagine Reid might see more in him right now (coming onto a team with some good skill position players); and, if not, they should have an option in a deeper QB draft next year. Who knows, he might be that type of QB who flourishes under Reid, who has been secretly eyeing him for years. May be an easier sell to the ownership (veteran>quasi-rookie)

      • Smith returned not only this year’s #34 pick, but what could be a 2nd round pick next year. Speculation was that Smith could be had for a mid-rounder. The Chiefs were definitely willing to overpay given their need at QB.

  • GGeagle

    What a surprise, Kelly isn’t dumb enough to trade a young kid before ever even seeing him practice. What a shocker. Who would have ever thunk that we won’t trade away something until we know what it is? What a crazy thought lol?.bet anything Foles starts more games thaVick next year.

    • nicksaenz1

      A lot of people were thinking that and hoping it lol. We still may, sadly. I hope not, but we may end up doing it. There’s still Arizona…

  • Tom W

    Andy seriously overpaid for a 8mil avg game manager w a weak arm approaching 31. It’s very possible eagles stance was to say he is off-market before they received an offer from chiefs not thinking Andy would offer this freaking much 2 months before the draft. And very possible Andy likes smith better than folks and would never have made the same offer to us bc birds would’ve been hard pressed to turn down that package. I’m shocked and Reid blew this trade big time.

    • JofreyRice

      Haha, he’s only 28 dude. He does suck, tho. Better KC than us! Bon Voyage, Andy! He’s smarter than everyone else!

  • ClydeSide

    Great article. Kelly has always adapted his scheme to the talent he had–and won. He was 46-7 in four years at Oregon with 5 different QBs and his offense was different every year. When Kelly says he likes Foles, we should take him at his word.

    • UKEagle99

      I agree. I never heard him say he liked Patterson or Jenkins…

  • tim says, “Plus, Kelly likes mobile quarterbacks. He relied on them at Oregon.”. Really? Do you think Darron Thomas is mobile? I don’t. He barely ran the ball (4 attempts/game) in his final year as a starter at Oregon and ran a 4.8 40 at the combine. Does that sound mobile to you?

    • GoBirds1

      Unfortunately Foles ran a 5.14.

    • youtu.be/yR3YWb8VXLw

  • Bottom line is KC wasn’t willing to give up as much or even near the amount of compensation that they did for Smith. Much to my displeasure I have a bad feeling Foles is not in the Birds plans. You don’t have to look any further than the Vick restructuring and the Dixon signing to see that. I’m sure Howie thought he could strong arm Reid into a deal and failed. Or perhaps Smith was big reds first choice. You can’t believe a word that is being said by FO people. We’ll be lucky to get a late second early third for Foles with a 2014 escalator pick.

    • Stephen Stempo

      Dixon is as far as I’m concerned filler. to me the only thing the vck restructuring did was give the Eagles all the power when it came to cutting vick. Cutting 4 years and 97 million dollars off of someones contract isn’t what I would call the old vote of confidence.

      • I hope you are right. I have a slightly positive outlook on the restructuring was an attempt to make him more marketable in a mid-low round draft pick.

  • Slbattitudespoofer

    Superior? Foles showed flashes but he’s 1-4 as a starter 6 tds 5 ints 46 qbr. Maybe Reid didn’t offer Philly what he offered SF because Foles isn’t worth it.

  • Joethomas215

    Kelly ain’t gonna trade something before he knows what it is, that simple. Andy Obviously went to plan b and got his self a solid qb who has won slot of games the last two years, What’s gonna win games

    • Stephen Stempo

      again in what way do we know smith wasn’t plan A all along???

  • Joethomas215

    Andy is gonna win games*
    I hope Foles beats out Vick too, let Vick walk.

  • S.Smith

    If the Eagles could have got the same compensation for Foles as the Niners got for Smith than they definitely dropped the ball on this one! We could have used one of those 2nd rounders for EJ Manual, who has more upside than Foles, without sacrificing one of our original draft picks for a QB.

    • Stephen Stempo

      I think if the eagles could have gotten that compensation for foles they would have. I still don’t see the evidence that Foles was the chiefs first look and they settled for smith. I don’t get that, no offense, but it seems stupid. If it wasn’t andy reid in KC the foles thing never would have been brought up.

  • Nik

    This is disappointing. One less Oline off the board now that the chiefs won’t draft a QB

  • DunedinEagle

    Better be….times your Chip

  • hoping chip has a clue

    I don’t buy it, the Eagles screwed up again with their indecision, look at the facts, they signed Vick so it makes sense to everyone but them to trade Foles….but they were afraid to pull the trigger on the deal and now they have to keep him.
    Anyone who thinks Foles will be anything more that an white Rodney Peete hasn’t been watching football long….he’s slow, he lacks long ball accuracy, he can’t throw the out pattern well, he makes goofy decisions…..I haven’t seen anything from him that tells me he can win a playoff game.

    • Foles has problems true, but you would expect that of a rookie coming into the league, Foles was only graded out of Arizona as a 5th round project. I don’t think you trade Foles now and believe it to be a smart move to just take time with Foles. Throwing Foles to the wolves as the Eagles did last year wasn’t to smart in my option. Playing behind that line could lead to bad habits. Foles may never be a long ball Quarterback but he does see the field well which is a good start. Foles should be better with time and as some of the pieces on the offense are swamped out.

      • hoping chip has a clue

        hope you are right…this season is gonna be crazy….nobody knows what to expect….but the uncertainty is exciting….

  • JofreyRice

    I think it’s possible that Reid thought Alex Smith was a better QB than Foles, which along with the Vick re-signing, says a lot about Foles. He had an extended audition to be the franchise QB, and the fact is, he did not do enough to beat out a 30+ inconsistent, turnover machine with chronically bad decision making habits, making a boatload of undeserved money. I don’t put much credence into Kelly’s comments, I think he’s being very politic, in a new situation–and rightly so.

    I never thought Foles was that good coming out of Arizona. I thought Juron Criner bailed him out of a lot of bad throws. There aren’t many passes I can point to, as an Eagle, where he really wow’ed me with intermediate or deep completions. Calling him a “WCO” QB is basically code for saying that he doesn’t have the arm strength to threaten vertically, which is a hindrance in the NFL today in general, and a big hindrance in Kelly’s system particularly, considering his run game is supposed to suck defenders into the box to open up opportunities down the field.

    You can say what you want about Darron Thomas, but Greg Cosell’s case is a lot more convincing. The QBs *threat* to run, is integral to his offense. Trying to avoid that fact by pointing to the lack of overall yards in some cases is missing the point. Foles poses no threat to run, so I can’t see how he’s any more than a superfluous piece.

    • I’m not sold that this Smith deal is going to work out. Smith thrives in an offense where they run first and he doesn’t have to throw that much. Doesn’t really fit Andy’s MO does it? In fact it’s pretty much the opposite.

      Someone raised an interesting point on twitter the other day, it’s gonna be real fun to watch Smith (w/ Reid) and Sanchez (w/ Marty) see how they can handle being used as gunslingers, passing 45+ times a game.

      And I don’t think you can say that Foles couldn’t “beat out” Vick. Kelly brings in a system that just doesn’t work for Foles. If it was a traditional offense then you can make a case that Foles played better than Vick last year, or at the very least showed more promise. Foles is just a victim of circumstance.

      My thought is that Roseman put a high value on a young player who has, what he believes, a high ceiling and the Chiefs were not ready to pay that price. I’m in favour of this decision.

      • JofreyRice

        No I agree, I think Andy done goofed. Think about his offense here, the good ones: he always had a vertical threat down the field to open up the screens, and slants. Smith lost his job precisely because he couldn’t threaten the field vertically. It’s really a headscratcher, for me, which is even more damning of Foles.

        As far as Foles, on some level, there was a downvote of confidence by Kelly and the FO. I can’t see how it could be viewed any differently. He had 7 games to prove he was an NFL starter. He didn’t. Kelly was supposed to be a guy to adapt his system. Every indication is that he’s going to run what he ran at Oregon, and not adapt the system for a pocket QB like Foles. Until otherwise proven, I think Vick is the presumptive starter.

    • Token

      I agree. Foles certainly was a cheaper option than Smith. Vick has been brought back and Dixon signed. Two polar opposites of Foles. So its hard to imagine Foles has any future here. Kelly can say whatever he wants, but hes done nothing yet to signal him changing his offense much from college.

      My biggest worry right now is that they are focused on EJ Manuel. Talk about a shit for brains QB. I simply want someone who is smart and can throw accurately. Could care less if they have a cannon.