Shortly before the start of the league year, the Philadelphia Eagles turned down a potential trade that would have sent Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles to the Cleveland Browns for the 35th overall pick in the 2018 draft, according to three sources familiar with the talks.
Before rejecting the deal, two sources said, the Eagles ran the scenario by Foles, who said he preferred to remain in Philadelphia. In April, the Eagles and Foles agreed to a re-worked contract that gave him a $2 million bonus for 2018 and allowed him to earn up to $14 million in incentives, while creating a “mutual option” for him to remain with the team in 2019. (Basically, Foles is free to leave if he pays back the $2 million.)
The Browns, meanwhile, turned their attention to former Buffalo Bills starter Tyrod Taylor, who they acquired for a third-round pick on March 10. Cleveland later selected former Oklahoma star Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick of the draft, though coach Hue Jackson has declared that Taylor will be his unequivocal starter for 2018. With the 35th pick — the second of their two second-rounders — the Browns selected Georgia running back Nick Chubb.
The decision not to trade Foles reflected the Eagles’ immense regard for his abilities, which were showcased during the team’s NFC championship game blowout of the Minnesota Vikings and again in the epic Super Bowl triumph over the Patriots. It was also based on the uncertainty regarding the status of third-year franchise quarterback Carson Wentz, who tore his ACL in a December victory over the Los Angeles Rams and theoretically might not be ready for the team’s Sept. 6 regular season opener against the Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field — though the team is optimistic that Wentz will be able to meet that timeline.
It’s also possible that Foles could still be sent elsewhere before the start of the 2018 season, or at any point up to the Tuesday, Oct. 30 trade deadline.
Two Septembers ago, five days after Vikings starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a severe knee injury in practice, the Eagles dealt starter Sam Bradford to Minnesota for first- and fourth-round picks — a move that allowed Wentz, then a rookie, to ascend to the top of the depth chart just before the start of the regular season. If a similar scenario were to present itself this summer, the Eagles could possibly be open to parting with Foles, especially if they were offered a first-round pick in return.
It’s also possible that Foles could be dealt shortly before the trade deadline, especially if Wentz has established that he is fully healthy. Last Oct. 30, the Patriots sent promising backup Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers for a second-round pick.
In the meantime, Foles remains the NFL’s highest-profile backup quarterback — a role with which he is clearly comfortable, given his preference that the Eagles reject the Browns’ overtures.