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Eagles trade Joe Flacco to Jets, pave the way for Gardner Minshew to move into No. 2 role behind Jalen Hurts

The Eagles quarterback room got shaken up as the team maneuvered to get Minshew into the backup role.

Eagles quarterbacks Jalen Hurts (1) and Joe Flacco (7) look before throwing the ball during a drill at training camp at the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia on Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021.
Eagles quarterbacks Jalen Hurts (1) and Joe Flacco (7) look before throwing the ball during a drill at training camp at the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia on Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021.Read moreHEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer

The Eagles made several changes to their quarterback room Monday, starting with the trade of veteran backup Joe Flacco to the Jets in exchange for a late-round draft pick.

The pick is a 2022 conditional sixth-round selection in that can turn into a fifth-rounder based on Flacco’s playing time, according to an NFL source. In a corresponding move, the Eagles also signed former Miami Dolphins practice-squad quarterback Reid Sinnett off the waiver wire.

Flacco, the Super Bowl MVP following the 2012 season with Baltimore, spent the first 11 years of his career with the Ravens before one-season stints with the Denver Broncos and Jets. He signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the Eagles during free agency in March.

The Jets were searching for quarterback help in the wake of first-round rookie Zach Wilson’s knee injury Sunday. He is expected to miss at least 2-4 weeks with a sprained posterior collateral ligament.

“Joe is just a great pro to be around,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “He was really good for our room. But the opportunity arose for him to go and be able to contribute somewhere else. Our time with Joe Flacco was really good.”

By shipping Flacco away, third-string quarterback Gardner Minshew is now able to step into the main backup role behind starter Jalen Hurts.

“We feel really good about Gardner being our No. 2,” Sirianni said.

Minshew, a 2019 sixth-round pick out of Washington State, started 12 games as a rookie with the Jaguars. He showed promise and created buzz around the league — famously tabbed as “Minshew Mania” — as the mustache-equipped slinger threw for 3,721 yards and 21 touchdowns with six interceptions.

His sophomore campaign in 2020 was hindered by injuries while the Jaguars finished 1-15. Jacksonville had the top pick in April’s NFL draft and used the No. 1 overall selection on quarterback Trevor Lawrence. That left Minshew in a backup role.

Near the end of August, the Eagles acquired Minshew in exchange for a conditional late-round pick.

Minshew has been listed as inactive during the team’s first seven games. That could change Sunday when the Eagles play at Detroit.

Sirianni spent a significant time scouting Minshew out of college while he was an assistant coach with the Indianapolis Colts. When the Eagles traded for Minshew, the third-year quarterback retold a story about Sirianni from his predraft process. Minshew was animated as he detailed how Sirianni challenged him to a game of H-O-R-S-E at the time.

Hurts has experienced an up-and-down season during his first year as the starter. The team’s problems go way beyond Hurts’ struggles — but in today’s league climate, the quarterback will always receive a lot of the blame. During Sunday’s 33-22 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, Hurts completed 52.9% of his passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed a season-high 13 times for 61 yards.

At the conclusion of his press conference with reporters Monday evening, Sirianni was asked if he has considered making a change at starting quarterback.

“No,” the first-year coach replied.

Pressed further if he’d like to see Minshew at some point, Sirianni doubled down.

“No — I’ve got a ton of faith in Jalen. I really like Gardner, and I think he’s a good backup. But I’ve got a ton of faith in Jalen, and he will be our starting quarterback.”

Sanders ruled week to week

Roughly 24 hours after the Eagles’ loss, Sirianni revealed a sliver of good news regarding tailback Miles Sanders.

Sanders, who exited the game with an ankle injury, underwent X-rays and results came back negative, according to Sirianni.

The third-year tailback had been a forgotten part of the offense during the first third of the season. Sanders had averaged just four first-half carries in the first six games, but he appeared to finally be getting his due Sunday in Las Vegas. Sanders had five carries during the Eagles’ opening drive, signaling a switch in Sirianni’s game planning and a willingness to incorporate his lead horse at a higher rate.

But Sanders went down on the team’s second possession and never returned. It appeared bleak momentarily as Sanders was carted off the field, while shedding tears and wearing a towel over his head. However, Sirianni seemingly ruled out any significant season-ending type injury by declaring Sanders week to week.

“Miles will probably be down [vs. the Lions],” Sirianni said. “It’s a stretch for him to be up this week, but we’re not ruling anything out yet.”

Other running backs on the roster include rookie Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott. Veteran Jordan Howard is on the practice squad.