When the offseason began, it was assumed the Eagles wouldn’t spend big money for a backup quarterback.
They didn’t get into a bidding war for Tom Brady, Philip Rivers or Teddy Bridgewater, all of whom signed big contracts to change teams. And those quarterbacks certainly weren’t going to be interested in backing up Carson Wentz.
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But it’s also possible that the Eagles didn’t expect quarterbacks like Jameis Winston, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton or even Cam Newton, who signed with the Patriots on Sunday night, to become so relatively inexpensive.
That could explain why the Eagles decided to take Jalen Hurts in the second round of the draft two months ago. Hurts will be on a rookie contract, expected to make about $600,000 this season.
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That’s not much less than what some backup quarterbacks with several years of experience signed for during the offseason. Eagles coach Doug Pederson has said that Hurts will likely go into training camp as the third-string QB, and that he will have to beat out Nate Sudfeld to be Wentz’s backup.
Here’s a look at the quarterbacks the Eagles could have signed at the discounted rate, and whether they are better off with Hurts:
Cam Newton, Patriots
The Patriots are the first team in NFL history to lose an MVP quarterback and then add one in the same offseason. Newton won the award in 2015 when he led the Panthers to the Super Bowl.
Newton was injured for much of the past two seasons, playing just two games last year before needing foot surgery, and the Panthers lost the last eight games he started. Newton will compete for a starting job with Jarrett Stidham, the Pats’ fourth-round pick last season who has thrown just four passes in his career.
Contract terms: Newton signed a one-year deal for the veterans’ minimum, but with incentives it could be worth as much as $7.5 million. It was a contract that 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman called “disgusting.”
Why Hurts is the better option: In his prime, Newton was dangerous both as a passer and a runner. But Newton is 31 and coming off foot surgery. Hurts has a similar skill set, but is younger and healthier. Hurts threw for 3,851 yards and ran for 1,298 last season at Oklahoma.
Joe Flacco, Jets
Flacco, the former University of Delaware star, wanted to play close to his family in South Jersey. Flacco was a Super Bowl MVP in 2013 with the Ravens, and he has said he’d be willing to serve as a mentor for Jets QB Sam Darnold.
Contract terms: It was reported that Flacco signed a one-year deal worth $1.5 million with incentives worth as much as $3 million.
Why Hurts is the better option: Flacco is 35, coming off neck surgery, and might not be ready for the start of the season.
Andy Dalton, Cowboys
Dalton has been a starter for the past 10 seasons with the Bengals. He will be a backup to Cowboys’ starter Dak Prescott, who is playing under the franchise tag this season, which is worth $31 million.
Contract terms: Dalton reportedly signed a one-year deal worth $3 million.
Why Hurts is the better option: Dalton hasn’t had a winning record as a starter since 2015, and he threw nearly as many interceptions last season (14) as touchdown passes (16).
Jameis Winston, Saints
Winston comes into a great situation with the Saints. Drew Brees is 41 and likely playing in his last season. Ideally, Winston would back up Brees this season, then replace him in 2021.
But Winston is an interception machine. Last season, he became the first player in NFL history with at least 30 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions.
Contract terms: Winston reportedly signed a one-year deal worth $1.1 million with incentives that could grow it to $3.4 million.
Why Hurts is the better option: Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, led the NFL last season with 5,109 yards passing. But he throws way too many interceptions for the Eagles’ liking.
Case Keenum, Browns
Keenum would seem to fit the mold for an ideal backup. He has experience filling in for ineffective or injured starters. That includes taking the Vikings to the NFC Championship game in 2017-18, where they lost to the Eagles.
Contract terms: Three years, $18 million
Why Hurts is the better option: Keenum went 1-7 as the starter in Washington last season before rookie Dwayne Haskins took over. A three-year deal worth an average of $6 million was likely too rich for the Eagles.
Chase Daniel, Lions
He has familiarity with both Pederson and the Eagles. Daniel was the backup in Kansas City from 2013-15 with Pederson as the offensive coordinator. Then Daniel was Wentz’s backup in Wentz’s rookie season with the Eagles in 2016. That was Pederson’s first season as head coach.
Contract terms: Three years, $13 million.
Why Hurts is the better option: Daniel is making more this season than Newton and Winston combined, yet has thrown just 218 passes in 10 seasons. That’s as many passes as a starter will throw in about seven games.
Contact Martin Frank at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.