Eagles reiterate commitment to Foles

Posted: February 21, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS - OK, so what's it going to take for the Eagles to convince people they're committed to Nick Foles?

Does Chip Kelly need to rent advertising space on highway billboards around Philadelphia with "I Love Nick" written on them in midnight green?

Does Howie Roseman need to pinkie-swear that he won't draft a quarterback or sign one in free agency or even look at a tape of one for the next 10 years?

A long-term contract with lots of zeros certainly would do the trick. But as luck would have it, NFL teams aren't permitted to redo a player's rookie deal until after his third season.

As everyone in Philly is well aware, Foles, No. 88 in your 2012 NFL draft program, came off the bench last season to throw 29 touchdown passes and only two interceptions and record the third-highest passer rating in NFL history.

He helped the Eagles win 10 games and a division title a year after they finished 4-12. He went to the Pro Bowl, where he was named the game's offensive MVP. He was the league's Courtyard by Marriott Road Warrior, for God's sake.

Yet, many feel he is not being shown enough love by his employers. They still think Kelly is jonesing for a quarterback who can throw and run. They hear Kelly and Roseman talk about wanting competition for Foles at quarterback and interpret that as meaning they want somebody better.

For the umpteenth time, Roseman said yesterday that just isn't true.

"That's what we're about; we're about competition,'' he said. "We're about increasing competition at every position. I don't think it's a slight at anybody on our football team. But everyone needs to be pushed a little bit.

"We're saying we're looking for competition throughout our roster. We said that when we had Donovan McNabb. We said it when we had Kevin Kolb. We said it when we had Michael Vick. If there's an opportunity in the draft to get a player at an important position, we've seen how that can pay off in terms of even having backup quarterbacks and how you can parlay that into other draft picks. That just makes sense."

The truth is, the Eagles have made as much of a commitment to Foles as they need to right now, as much of one as they should. He will be the team's season-opening starting quarterback next season. Beyond that, well, they're going to wait and see how things play out.

They hope those 29 TD passes and two interceptions - "I just like hearing you say 29 touchdowns and two interceptions," Roseman said. "Would you repeat that part?" - are just the tip of the iceberg. They hope, but they don't know. Neither do we.

If Foles played for the Flyers, Ed Snider would have given him a 15-year, $200 million contract the day after the season ended. Kelly gave him an "attaboy" and a list of things he needs to do to improve this offseason.

"It's almost like a rookie pitcher in baseball," Roseman said. "You go through the league the first time, you go through the lineups the first time, and now people are going to spend the offseason studying you and studying your weaknesses.

"The best part about Nick is that he has a tremendous work ethic. He has a tremendous amount of will to get better, to improve on the things that are his weaknesses.

"When you looked at Nick from Year 1 to Year 2, a big thing for him was [the improvement in] his footwork, and being able to drive the ball down the field. And we all saw tremendous growth in that area. I think we look for him to continue to improve. He's a young quarterback. He's [25] years old. He's been in the league 2 years. And he's going to continue to develop and get better."

Unless the Eagles sign one in free agency, there's a very good chance they will select a quarterback in the May draft. Probably not in the first or second round, but in the third or fourth or fifth or sixth.

And they should. With Vick not expected back, the Eagles' quarterback inventory after Foles consists of Matt Barkley and practice-squadder G.J. Kinne.

And if the new guy ends up being somebody who can run, like, say, Clemson's Tajh Boyd, well, Kelly will have to spend yet another summer answering questions about whether, deep down in his heart, he prefers a mobile quarterback.

"Somebody asked me if the best player on our draft board was a quarterback, would we still pick him," Roseman said. "We're adamant about that philosophy of taking the best player available.

"When you talk about the quarterback position, if you take one even though you [already] have a good player, we've seen how that can pay off because it gives you the flexibility to possibly move him, because there's not enough quarterbacks going around in the league.

"If there was a time in the draft where we felt like we were getting really good value where we felt we were getting a future starter who could thrive, we would certainly look at that."

This is what I know. I know that wherever Foles is right now, he's not sitting around pouting about the Eagles not being "committed enough" to him.

A year ago at this time, he didn't even know whether Kelly and Roseman were going to keep him around. Now, barring an injury, he knows he will be the team's starting quarterback next season. And he knows that if he plays well again, there will be a big payday waiting for him in 2015.

"I don't want to get defensive about it, but we have tremendous support for Nick," Roseman said. "Even when we talk about Mike Vick and the fact that there's not an opportunity for a starting spot here for him, that's a reflection on Nick and where he is in his career.

"It's exciting to think he's in his second year in this league and really, 1 year in this system with coach Kelly, and the room for growth [he has]. He has tremendous support within the building and within the organization. I'm real excited about him as a player and person in this organization."

Until they can give him a long-term contract next year, that will have to do.

Email: pdomo@aol.com

On Twitter: @Pdomo

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian.com

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