Report: Jacksonville is preparing to replace Blake Bortles with Nick Foles
With the ever-present caveat that nothing is done until pen meets paper, it certainly looks like former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles is heading to Jacksonville.
The Super Bowl LII MVP is expected to sign with the Jaguars when free agency opens on March 13, according to Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
That would also presume the Jaguars are cutting ties with former first-round pick Blake Bortles as the franchise quarterback.
The Eagles previously declined to use the franchise tag on Foles after he opted out of his contract, making the on-again, off-again starter a free agent as the club focuses on moving forward with Carson Wentz at the helm. Foles, 30, went 10-3 as a starter over the last two years with Philadelphia (including 4-1 in the playoffs) while passing for 12 touchdowns and six interceptions in the regular season.
The same report notes that there doesn’t seem to be a large market for Foles’ services, so a record-breaking contract isn’t necessarily a lock in Jacksonville. Yet it certainly seems like both sides are finding each other at the right time. Had Foles not opted out in Philadelphia, the Eagles were due to pay him $20 million next year.
The Jaguars are coming off a dreadful season after making the playoffs in 2017 for the first time in a decade. Bortles passed for 2,718 yards, 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on the year to finish with a QB rating of 79.8. Foles finished last season with a rating of 96. Pairing Foles in an offense with running back Leonard Fournette and wideouts Marqise Lee, Dede Westbrook and Donte Moncrief might not fix everything right away, but it’s a unit that’s in need of retooling rather than rebuilding.
Upgrading an offensive line that allowed 53 sacks last season (third-worst in the league) can certainly help. The addition of John DeFilippo as offensive coordinator should give Jacksonville a nice boost as well. Especially if the plan is to sign Foles. DeFilippo was the quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia during the 2017 season that brought home the only Super Bowl title in team history.
It all makes for a natural landing spot for Foles. What happens next to Bortles is a bit tougher to pin down. After signing a three-year, $56 million deal in 2018 with $26.5 million guaranteed, a trade seems rather unlikely. He’s also due another million if he makes the roster in 2019 and carries a cap hit of $21 million.
Jacksonville has tried its best to make Bortles work and it seems to have run its course. As the first quarterback taken off the board in 2014 with the No. 3 pick, Jacksonville not only passed up the chance to draft the likes of Teddy Bridgewater and Jimmy Garoppolo later on, but missed out on Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald and Odell Beckham Jr. — who were all taken after Bortles.
Hindsight is always used against general managers in the draft, but in a first round that produced 13 Pro Bowlers in the first 17 picks, the Jaguars wound up with one of the four players who hasn’t been named as one of the game’s best since.
With Foles, Jacksonville seeks a chance to correct that.
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