Chris Szagola/Associated Press
It sure sounds like the Philadelphia Eagles are trapped in some sort of confusing quarterback funhouse, with their indecisiveness and uncertainty only building as they encounter more shifting floors and trick mirrors.
It’s a dangerous place to be, mainly because it sets an organization on a path to quarterback anxiety. Confusion begets more confusion and eventually, somebody in the front office asks if you even need a quarterback at all and, for a brief moment, the rest of the staff wonders if he’s onto something.
Per Maaddi, they loved Hurts when he rushed for 106 yards while helping them beat the New Orleans Saints in his first career start last December. But then they lost three in a row with Hurts under center and they wanted to make up with Carson Wentz.
They signed Wentz’s divorce papers but still considered trading up in the draft for a passer—the quarterback carousel equivalent of downloading Tinder. Instead, they jarringly did the opposite by trading down—the quarterback carousel equivalent of buying sweatpants in bulk on Amazon.
There’s no consensus in the funhouse, or as Maaddi put it, “the building,” which is a statement of the obvious if the rest of his report is on point.
Rob Maaddi @RobMaaddi
#Eagles are unsure about Jalen Hurts. No consensus in the building. After beating the Saints, they wanted to get rid of Carson Wentz. After next 3 losses, they wanted to work it out with Carson. After trading Carson, they considered a trade up for a QB before trading down to 12.
The front office is almost certainly traumatized by the fact it handed Wentz a sum tantamount to the GDP of a small island nation not long before he abruptly forgot how to play football at the turn of the decade. Nobody wants to rush into something new right after that.
But now that Wentz has rejoined former Philly offensive coordinator Frank Reich in Indianapolis, and now that the Eagles have basically removed themselves from the primo quarterback sweepstakes by trading back from the sixth pick to the 12th slot in the first round of next month’s draft, the boulevard ahead for the Eagles is actually rather clear.
Throw in that the 2022 first-rounder that the Miami Dolphins sent their way in that trade should give them enough draft capital to land a blue-chip quarterback in next year’s class, and they’ve practically manufactured their own mandate.
The organization should give Hurts every opportunity to secure the long-term job in 2021, and if he doesn’t come through, they should move on without thinking twice.
Rich Schultz/Associated Press
Some will argue Hurts doesn’t deserve a 16-game (or 17-game) guarantee as a second-round pick who completed 52.0 percent of his passes as a rookie. Just as many might also argue that one full season isn’t enough for a second-round pick who started four games as a rookie.
That’s fine, but the circumstances are ideal for a one-year audition. The Alabama and Oklahoma product flashed in and beyond that Saints game, and a No. 53 overall pick is no small investment. Still, there’s little patience left for quarterbacks to develop in the NFL, especially on a talented roster in a place like Philadelphia.
If Hurts struggles in 2021 behind one of the best offensive lines in football, the Eagles—who will probably have a strong draft pick because they’re not likely to win a lot of games if that’s the case—won’t be able to justify neglecting the sport’s most important position in the first round of that event.
Fair or not, it’s make or break—especially as it becomes increasingly unlikely that an Eagles team devoid of salary-cap space will bring in a veteran like Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Jimmy Garoppolo or Sam Darnold via trade.
And while a lot has been made of this quarterback class and not next year’s, consider how often prospects like Joe Burrow or Zach Wilson rise up out of nowhere in their final college campaigns. Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler looks like he could be special, there’s a lot of hype for Sam Howell of North Carolina and there’s room for others such as Tyler Shough, Kedon Slovis and Desmond Ridder to emerge.
So let’s see it. One full season for Hurts in new Philadelphia head coach Nick Sirianni’s system. Let him fight through potential growing pains in September, and let opposing defenses overcome the potential element of surprise that could benefit him early on.
Let it all happen for a complete campaign, because he’s got the unique talent to become a franchise quarterback but also the flaws to become an afterthought by spring of 2022.
Do it, because you never know and because three of this league’s best quarterbacks—Tom Brady, Dak Prescott and Wilson—were drafted lower than he was. Do it because he costs just $2.3 million, and you’ve got nothing to spend and little to lose.
Do it because there’s still some gravy left from that magical 2017 Super Bowl season, which could explain why general manager Howie Roseman is still employed.
Plus, it’s the easiest way out of that horrific funhouse.
Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012. Follow him on Twitter, @Brad_Gagnon.