The Eagles strengthened their backup quarterback depth Saturday, trading a conditional late-round draft pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for quarterback Gardner Minshew.
The pick is a conditional sixth-rounder in the 2022 draft that becomes a fifth-rounder if Minshew plays 50% of the team’s offensive snaps in three games this season, according to an NFL source. The Eagles also released third-string quarterback Nick Mullens in a corresponding move.
Minshew is a few days removed from officially being named the backup quarterback in Jacksonville behind Trevor Lawrence, the first overall pick in this year’s draft. The 2019 sixth-round pick out of Washington State started 12 games as a rookie after Nick Foles broke his clavicle in his first game with the Jaguars. He threw for 3,271 yards and 21 touchdowns, becoming a bit of a cult hero because of his improbable success — dubbed “Minshew Mania.”
He entered the 2020 season as the Jaguars’ starter, but a thumb injury sidelined him and he was eventually benched as Jacksonville went 1-15. He has 20 career starts and has completed 62.9% of his passes, throwing for 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. This training camp, he alternated days as the starting quarterback with Lawrence, but it was unlikely he’d unseat the former Clemson star who most consider the best quarterback prospect in nearly a decade.
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The arrival of Minshew will either force the Eagles to carry three quarterbacks onto the 53-man roster, or could spell trouble for veteran Joe Flacco, who spent training camp as the Eagles’ backup quarterback behind Jalen Hurts. The Eagles will have set their 53-man roster by 4 p.m. Tuesday, and Flacco’s future with the team will hinge on whether the team carries two or three quarterbacks.
Flacco’s $3.5 million guaranteed salary this season will make moving him difficult, but his status as the next man up could be in jeopardy.
The Audubon, N.J. native took all of the second-team snaps during training camp and started two preseason games in Hurts’ absence, but Minshew, 25, has played better the last two seasons while also having more upside. He’s also under contract for the next two seasons with $1.01 million owed next year and has more mobility than Flacco, offering a more seamless transition in the event that Hurts misses time.
Former Eagles president Joe Banner said he expects Minshew to take over the backup job in due time.
“I think it’s highly likely that he’s their backup quarterback, otherwise they wouldn’t have made this move,” Banner said. “If I’m talking pure talent level, I’d actually rather have Gardner. He’s obviously more mobile and they’re going into a season with risk on the offensive line, mostly just age-generated.”
The Eagles signed Mullens in June and had the former 49ers quarterback running the third-team offense all training camp. He struggled through the preseason, completing just 55.2% of his passes, throwing three interceptions and zero touchdowns.