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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