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Eagles had interest in keeping Josh McCown as a coach, possibly offensive coordinator

The journeyman quarterback helped Carson Wentz last season, but he might want to play another season.

Eagles quarterback Josh McCown leaves Lincoln Financial Field, visibly upset, after the Eagles 17-9 playoff loss to the Seahawks on Jan. 5, 2020.
Eagles quarterback Josh McCown leaves Lincoln Financial Field, visibly upset, after the Eagles 17-9 playoff loss to the Seahawks on Jan. 5, 2020.Read moreMICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer

MOBILE, Ala. — The Eagles discussed with quarterback Josh McCown the idea of returning to the team in a coaching role, possibly as offensive coordinator, during his exit interviews, NFL sources told The Inquirer.

While it’s unclear whether the team offered McCown a position, the 40-year-old veteran told the Eagles that he wasn’t ready to officially retire from his playing career, a source said.

Aside from meeting with coach Doug Pederson and general manager Howie Roseman, McCown also sat down with owner Jeffrey Lurie, according to a source. Lurie doesn’t typically meet with players immediately after the season ends.

McCown didn’t respond to a message seeking comment. The Eagles had no comment.

The Eagles had yet to fire offensive coordinator Mike Groh on Jan. 6, the day after the season-ending playoff loss to the Seahawks. Pederson said two days later that Groh and wide receivers coach Carson Walch were returning, although he then walked back those comments and said he had yet to make final decisions on his staff.

Pederson announced that both coaches were being let go the following day.

The Eagles’ search for an offensive coordinator has yet to yield a replacement. The process hasn’t been made public, although they interviewed Southern Cal offensive coordinator Graham Harrell last week, per sources. He opted to stay with the Trojans.

Ravens quarterbacks coach James Urban also interviewed, but he will remain in Baltimore, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said last week. The Eagles had interest in Mike Kafka, but they never formally requested an interview because they had become aware that the Chiefs were prepared to block their quarterbacks coach.

The Eagles have been vaguely linked to some established coaches, but many have taken jobs elsewhere. Former Redskins coach Jay Gruden became the latest when he was hired by the Jaguars to be their offensive coordinator Wednesday. The Eagles and Vikings are the only two NFL teams with offensive-coordinator vacancies.

The Vikings job is likely more desirable because it will include play-calling responsibilities. Pederson is expected to continue calling plays with the Eagles.

While a jump from player to coordinator would be a significant one, working under Pederson would have allowed McCown to learn on the job. He took on the role of a quasi-coach backing up quarterback Carson Wentz last season.

Wentz and others credited McCown, who had first met the starter months earlier, with his improved play in the last month of the season. The Eagles won their last four games to capture the NFC East title, with Wentz leading the team to last-second victories over the Redskins and New York Giants. He had a 100.8 passer rating over that span.

But Wentz, who missed the previous two postseasons because of injury, played only eight snaps against Seattle. He suffered a game-ending concussion when he was hit by Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

McCown performed admirably in place of Wentz. He completed 18 of 24 passes for 175 yards and drove the Eagles offense into Seahawks territory on five possessions. But he struggled in the red zone, and the Eagles had to settle for three field goals.

It was later revealed that McCown tore his hamstring in the first half and played at far less than full strength.

“I’m feeling alright all things considered,” McCown said several days after the game, during a national podcast. “But football and 40 ... it doesn’t blend as well as you might think.”

McCown has been the epitome of a journeyman quarterback. He played for eight teams — as both a starter and backup — in the first 17 years of his career. He retired in June and immediately joined ESPN as a football analyst.

But the Eagles lured him back with a one-year, $2 million contract after backup Nate Sudfeld broke his wrist in a preseason game. McCown held onto the No. 2 spot even after Sudfeld, who is slated to become a free agent this offseason, returned.

McCown cited his family as one reason for his initial retirement. He has four children and was the quarterbacks coach for his two sons’ high school team near Charlotte, N.C. But the Eagles permitted McCown to return home on Mondays and Fridays to continue coaching.

If McCown is to play another year, he will likely want a similar arrangement. His sons will be in their sophomore and junior years. McCown will become a free agent in March, but he will likely wait until training camp to potentially sign with a team.

“As far as the future goes, we’ll see,” an emotional McCown said after the Seahawks game. “I haven’t made any decisions yet. I’ll get with my family and talk with them. I retired once, so I know how to do that. We’ll just see. I don’t know yet.”

Whatever he chooses, coaching will be in his future, at least at the high school level, and according to those close to McCown, eventually in the NFL.