The Philadelphia Eagles clearly are all-in on starting second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts this season as instead of finding legitimate competition for Hurts, the team has signed past-his-prime former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco, 36, to be the backup. While the Eagles likely hope that Flacco never sees the field in 2021, that signing does have a few ripple effects around the NFL – most specifically to the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers.
Flacco got a one-year deal worth $3.5 million guaranteed and the opportunity to earn $4 million more in incentives even though Flacco is just 2-10 as a starter the past two seasons combined with the New York Jets and Denver Broncos and wasn't able to stay healthy with either team. It's not clear whether Flacco's signing would preclude the Eagles from taking a QB fairly early in the 2021 draft – likely not Round 1, but the team has 11 picks overall – to provide legitimate long-term competition/insurance for Hurts.
It's a no-brainer move for Flacco as the backup QB market had largely dried up with Ryan Fitzpatrick landing in Washington, Tyrod Taylor in Houston, Mitchell Trubisky in Buffalo and Jacoby Brissett in Miami. Flacco went to high school across the Delaware River from Philadelphia in Audubon, N.J., and grew up an Eagles fan. Philadelphia is a +425 third favorite at William Hill Sportsbook to win the NFC East.
The 49ers welcomed Flacco for a visit and reportedly were also interested in Trubisky, but the team has done nothing yet to upgrade behind injury-prone starter Jimmy Garoppolo even though GM John Lynch said improving the QB room was an offseason priority. The only other Niners quarterbacks currently under contract are Josh Rosen and journeyman Josh Johnson. Rosen is a former first-round bust and Johnson was out of the NFL before signing to the 49ers' practice squad in November.
San Francisco could potentially pursue a trade for either the Jets' Sam Darnold or Jaguars' Gardner Minshew. The Texans' Deshaun Watson is probably a pipe dream right now with all his off-field problems.
Chicago, meanwhile, signed Andy Dalton to replace Nick Foles as the team's 2021 starter. The only realistic chance the Bears had of getting rid of Foles' contract – he has a cap hit of $6.7 million – was a potential trade of Foles back to Philadelphia, where he of course won Super Bowl MVP honors just like Flacco once did with Baltimore.
ESPN's Jeremy Fowler had reported the Eagles were interested in bringing back Foles, who is beloved in the organization, as a mentor/backup to Hurts, but that's clearly off the table now. Foles may have been too much of a "threat" to Hurts because Foles remains so popular among the fan base. No other team is the NFL is taking Foles' contract. Yet another blunder by Bears GM Ryan Pace.
Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, AJ McCarron, Colt McCoy and Robert Griffin III are likely the top free-agent quarterbacks remaining if we don't include Jameis Winston, widely expected to return to New Orleans, and Colin Kaepernick, whose NFL career is clearly finished.
Several CBS Sports NFL mock drafts have the Niners either taking a quarterback at No. 12 overall next month or trading up to get one.
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