INDIANAPOLIS – After Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson spoke with reporters Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine, at least one thing seemed clear: the Eagles are uncomfortable with their sparse draft pick stockpile and are open to the possibility of trading Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, if the right situation were to present itself.
That doesn't mean Foles will definitely be traded, but if you were looking for a statement from the head of football operations or the coach declaring a trade of Foles out of the question, with Carson Wentz still in the early stages of knee surgery recovery, you didn't hear it Wednesday. If you were just looking for an indication that trading Foles was unlikely, you didn't quite get that either.
Roseman said the defending Super Bowl champions are "trying to keep as many good players as possible" but have "a lot of areas to address."
It didn't sound as though Roseman, about $10 million over the projected 2018 salary cap, expects to be able to keep many members of a pending free-agent group that includes linebacker Nigel Bradham, cornerback Patrick Robinson, tight end Trey Burton, defensive tackle Beau Allen, and running back LeGarrette Blount. Their departures would create roster holes, and Roseman spoke of the need to keep a certain number of players on lower-cost rookie contracts on the roster, rather than becoming top-heavy with more expensive veterans. The Eagles will pick 32nd — last — in the first round of this year's draft, then won't pick again until the fourth round. They have six selections overall.
Pederson, asked whether Foles would have a say in where he might go, said: "I think you have to have that conversation. I'm a big believer, you don't just blindside a player like that, if that happens. I think you have to have that open communication with him. We'll see. We'll see where it goes. Howie just mentioned, we'd love to have everybody back, but we know the nature of the business … . But yeah, we'll talk about it before, if, and when that time comes."
Pederson said he hasn't discussed the future with Foles, who took over for Wentz during the Dec. 10 game against the Rams and went on to lead the team to its first Super Bowl title, one of the most amazing feats in the history of Philadelphia sports.
Roseman agreed that a conversation would be necessary.
"One of the reasons that we've had success, and it starts with coach Pederson, is our relationships we have with our players and being able to sit down with them and hear their perspective," Roseman said. "Not just with Nick, I don't want to make this just about Nick. But any of them, and where they're coming from, and where we're coming from, and sometimes those are hard conversations."
When he accepted the Super Bowl MVP trophy the morning after the game, Foles said he wasn't worried about his future, that "there will be a time and place for all that." He added that he enjoys working with Wentz — "the dude's a stud." Foles said he was living in the moment, not looking ahead.
The moment, though, is about to change.
Minutes before Pederson spoke at the podium, he talked on SiriusXM NFL of how "the thing I love about Nick Foles is, he understands it's Carson's team."
Fresh off the Super Bowl, Foles might have even more credibility as a starting quarterback than he had when he was traded to the Rams in 2015. "We'll see how the spring unfolds," Pederson said in the radio interview.
The Eagles almost certainly would need Foles' approval for a trade that would net anything of significant value; Foles, 29, is only under contract for 2018, and no team is going to trade anything great for a quarterback who can be a free agent in a year. He probably would need to be amenable to signing with his new team.
Certainly, given what Foles has done for them, and the uncertainty over Wentz's timetable, the Eagles aren't going to send Foles away for say, a fourth-round draft pick. But sitting out Day 2 of the draft, in which the second and third rounds take place, does not seem like something Roseman is apt to do. He said the Eagles are "definitely going to try to be more active and get more picks, but it's not like we can just demand it from one of the other 31 teams."
Roseman spoke highly of third-string quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who could end up starting Game 1 if Foles is traded and Wentz's recovery doesn't turn out to be exceptionally fast. Roseman said he didn't want his comments about Sudfeld taken out of context, apparently meaning he didn't want observers to extrapolate anything about Foles from them.
"Nate Sudfeld has a tremendous skill set. Not only to potentially be a No. 2 in this league, but we also think he has upside to develop into a starter," Roseman said. "I mean, incredibly smart, athletic, good frame, can make all the throws. All you have to do is ask some of our defensive players on the scout team about him."
"That [quarterback] room is exactly what we're looking for," Roseman said after extolling Foles' leadership and character. "We have a franchise quarterback. We have a Super Bowl MVP, and we have a young quarterback that we're excited about as well. That's kind of how we're looking at it as we get started in the offseason. We've got a lot of areas that we have to address. We're getting started a little bit behind all these other teams, and we know in this league if we don't get to work and get serious about this, we're going to get our butt kicked."
Asked if this meant his intention is to keep Foles, Roseman said: "Our intention is to keep all our good players."
Asked about assessing offers for Foles, Roseman said: "That's what we do. We try to balance on any player the offer we get and how we can improve the team and the certainty of what that player brings, versus the uncertainty, whether it's draft picks or bringing in a guy from another place. That's any decision we ever make. We try to weigh the pros and the cons of it.
"But there are certain positions that are different for us, and certainly quarterback position is different for us. When we started this thing with coach Pederson, we said we would go three deep at quarterback. It hasn't been perfect in our last two years that we were three deep, but we feel that way. It gives us a lot of comfort knowing that when you look at that quarterback depth chart, we have a franchise quarterback, we have a Super Bowl MVP, and we have a young, developing player."