Like Him or Not, Nick Foles Is the Eagles’ Quarterback of the Future

Three reasons the Birds won't be drafting a franchise QB or — settle down now — trading for Cam Newton.

Photo | Jeff Fusco.

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Here is the definitive report on Nick Foles:

He doesn’t dazzle you in any aspect of the game. Sometimes he looks really good shooting the ball down the field to open crossing receivers. And sometimes he has peculiar moments of uncertainty, heaving balls to the middle of the field off his back foot. Those are the moments that allow fans to drift into negative land with thoughts that Foles may not the quarterback who will lead this franchise to future riches.

But know this: Foles will be the franchise quarterback going forward — because the Eagles really don’t have any other choice.

Consider this. If the Eagles were to change quarterbacks now, either by selecting one in next year’s draft, or by replacing Foles with another veteran quarterback, they will be setting back the Chip Kelly program — which is now two years into construction. You can’t sell that to fans who are counting on this new coach to bring the Eagles a Super Bowl within a four- or five-year period of his program.

For the folks who are hung up on whether the Eagles will pay Foles the top dollar commanded by today’s notable starting quarterbacks — Alex Smith of the Kansas City Chiefs and Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears get $17 million a season, for crying out loud — know that the Eagles don’t have to pay Foles next year. The Eagles quarterback next year will be on the last year of a rookie deal that pays him about $600,000 for one more season beyond this year. The Birds brass could very well send the kid out there again next year and ask him to prove himself beyond a shadow of a doubt before they sign his big check.

But for the sake of argument, let’s assess the following alternatives.

Drafting a new quarterback

The top rated quarterback in next year’s draft is Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, whom Kelly recruited to the school. Mariota might also be the perfect NFL quarterback for Kelly’s fast-paced offensive system. But the Eagles have no chance to get him. With their record this year likely to end up with double-digits wins, there is no way that the Eagles will land a high enough draft pick; they will also unlikely be able to trade up to get Mariota. Even if Jacksonville and Oakland aren’t currently looking for a quarterback, those teams would likely only trade down a couple of spots to a team — like Tampa Bay, Tennessee, or even the New York Jets – that does need one. Jameis Winston would have to slide down awfully far for the Eagles to get him, and that would be highly unlikely. Bryce Petty of Baylor? Connor Cook of Michigan State? Brett Hundley of UCLA? They are all projects, which leads us to our next point.

Drafting a quarterback and having him sit

The Eagles could draft a quarterback, and groom him for an eventual starting spot by holding onto Foles for one more year, or jettisoning Foles and giving the job to current backup Mark Sanchez. Kelly likes Sanchez well enough — the Jets retread certainly looked good in Kelly’s offense in the pre-season. But for that to happen, the Eagles would likely have to sign Sanchez to a multi-year deal. This is a league with a dearth of quarterback talent and Sanchez, in preserving his body for a season while he stands on the Eagles sidelines eating chicken fingers, will be a commodity for a team looking for a new starter. The Eagles might have to outbid a team for the services of a guy who has had some NFL playoff success, but who has also played like an amateur in this league. And would that be worth it?

Trading for a quarterback like Cam Newton

Slow down on that notion folks. Your e-mails suggesting that Newton become an Eagle are noble, but misguided. Even if the Carolina Panthers fall on their face this season, there’s no way they will give up on Newton, a brilliant talent. Even if the Panthers don’t want to sign him long-term, they can lock him in for one more year at least with the franchise player tag. Cam Newton will not be coming to Philadelphia.

In Philadelphia, the quarterback position belongs to Nick Foles. Whether you like it or not.

Mike Missanelli is on 97.5 FM The Fanatic every week day from 2 to 6 p.m. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMiss975.