Carson Wentz to be Eagles’ starting quarterback, Doug Pederson reiterates
"We’re going to do what’s best for the team,” the coach says.
The Eagles are committed to Carson Wentz as their starting quarterback, ending any debate that might have existed about whether Nick Foles’ two postseason runs will make the franchise reconsider the position.
“Carson is the quarterback going forward,” coach Doug Pederson said Tuesday at his end-of-season press conference. “And in Nick’s case, listen, we would love to have everybody back throughout the roster. But as I’ve said many, many times, it’s not about one guy. It’s about the team. We’re going to do what’s best for the team.”
This has been consistent with Pederson’s ongoing message, while Wentz was out with a back injury, that Wentz would remain the franchise quarterback. It’s also been implied in comments from Foles and teammates who were aware that Foles’ time with the Eagles is likely set to expire.
Wentz completed a career-high 69.6 percent of his passes for 3,074 yards, 21 touchdowns, and seven interceptions in 11 starts this season. The Eagles went 5-6 in those games.
Foles completed a career-high 72.3 percent of his passes for 1,413 yards, seven touchdowns, and four interceptions in five regular-season starts. The Eagles went 4-1 in those games. Foles also started two postseason games and completed 60.6 percent of his passes for 467 yards, three touchdowns, and four interceptions.
Both Pederson and top executive Howie Roseman were vague Tuesday about Foles’ future. The Eagles have a $20 million team option on Foles, although if the option is exercised, Foles could buy out of it for $2 million and become a free agent. It’s unlikely that the Eagles can afford to bring Foles back as the No. 2, and it’s less likely Foles would be interested in being the backup quarterback.
“We would love to keep Nick Foles,” Roseman said. “You talk about a guy who we drafted here and we’ve grown incredibly close with. I don’t know a team that wouldn’t want to have Nick Foles on their roster. Certainly, as we go into the substance of those discussions — we haven’t had them yet — but there is no question we love having Nick Foles as an Eagle in Philadelphia and we would love to keep him.”
Wentz is eligible for a contract extension this offseason. The Eagles also can keep him under team control for at least two more seasons, and even longer if they use the franchise tag. Roseman would not divulge whether the Eagles would be interested in signing Wentz to an extension at this point.
“Because we want to have relationships with our players where we keep those talks close to the vest, I don't know that it would be helpful to talk about any player, about what we want to do,” Roseman said. “It's our job to keep as many good players here for as long as we can. In their prime and guys we drafted, those are guys that are always going to be a focus for us.”
Wentz spoke Monday about the benefits of having a full offseason, which he didn’t have last year. Wentz didn’t receive medical clearance to play until September, and he was a limited participant throughout training camp. Pederson said Tuesday that the missed time affected Wentz, and that Wentz’s performance improved as the season progressed because of the timing and chemistry that come from working with the offense. He also said that Wentz will benefit from having watched Foles lead the Eagles.
The key for Wentz will be to remain healthy. He said he wants to “put to rest” any concerns about his injury history. As long as Wentz is on the field, it makes sense for the Eagles to remain committed to him. And Roseman didn’t sound concerned that they’ll keep talking about Wentz’s injuries after coming seasons.
“We have a lot confidence in Carson and his ability to be our quarterback,” Roseman said, “and to be, hopefully, a 19-game starter when we look at a season and what we’re trying to do.”
Pederson confirmed that defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, offensive coordinator Mike Groh, and special-teams coordinator Dave Fipp will all return next season. …Roseman said that there’s “no question” the trade for Golden Tate worked out as the team wanted, and that he stands by trading a third-round pick to acquire Tate. “Feel very good about that,” Roseman said. “And you saw the contributions that he made in a big game.”