By: Hays Carlyon
That will be a question that forever hangs over the Jaguars. What if Nick Foles doesn’t get hurt 11 snaps into his first season in Jacksonville?
The finality of Foles’ one-year stint with the Jaguars came Wednesday when the Jaguars traded the veteran to Chicago for a late fourth-round pick (No. 140) in this year’s draft. ESPN first reported the trade.
Foles signed a four-year, $88-million contract with the Jaguars last year that included a $25 million signing bonus and had $50.1 million in guaranteed money. The former Super Bowl MVP in Philadelphia was winless in four starts with the Jaguars, becoming the worst free-agent signing in team history by a mile (and one of the worst ever by any franchise in NFL history).
The move seismically changes the future outlook for the Jaguars.
Now, second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew becomes the unquestioned starter. Minshew was 6-6 as a starter last season. The sixth-round pick completed 285 of 470 passes (60.6 percent) with 3,271 yards, throwing for 21 touchdowns with six interceptions. He also ran for 344 yards but lost seven fumbles.
The Jaguars will build around Minshew with 12 draft picks, including seven in the first 140. They also have nine draft picks in 2021.
Financially, the Jaguars get minimal cap relief in trading Foles (about $3.3 million). The team takes a massive $18.75 million dead-cap charge in trading Foles, according to spotrac.com. The Jaguars currently have nearly $28 million of their $198.2 million salary cap eaten up in dead money. That will evaporate after this season.
The Jaguars currently have roughly $26 million in cap space, with a projected $13 million for their draft class not included.
Foles’ time with the Jaguars will always remain a mystery.
He was brilliant in training camp. He was sharp early in the opener against Kansas City, throwing a gorgeous touchdown pass to receiver DJ Chark. Foles broke his collarbone on the play as he was hit after throwing the ball.
Foles came off of injured reserve eight games later, but never got in rhythm. He got worse by the start until he was benched for Minshew in his third game back.
If Minshew becomes a star, Foles’ injury will end up being the best blessing in disguise in team history.
If Minshew struggles and Foles succeeds in Chicago, like he did in Philadelphia, then this will be even more misery for Jaguars fans to bear.
For now, the rebuilding Jaguars have an exciting, young starting quarterback and plenty of draft capital to help a subpar roster.
Foles is gone.
Minshew Mania is all systems go.
(You can email Hays at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)