PHOENIX — During Jeffrey Lurie’s nearly 38-minute session with reporters on Tuesday evening at the annual league meetings, the Eagles’ owner showed the most emotion when talking about Nick Foles.
As he began to speak, his eyes started to well up just enough that at least a few reporters in front of him took notice. After all, this is Nick Foles we’re talking about.
“Nick, as you all know, exceptional person,” Lurie said. “There’s no understating it. Exceptional person. It was hard. We went through every alternative we could think of as an organization on how to proceed here. Really, in the end, I think, Nick really did want to have a team to take control of and be the guy.”
The Eagles could have slapped a franchise tag on Foles. They could have done that and then tried to ship him off to a team of their choosing instead of letting him become an unrestricted free agent. Lurie, on Tuesday, said it wouldn’t have been right to franchise Foles.
Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman at the combine on Feb. 27 (two weeks before the new league year) announced the Eagles’ intentions to let Foles hit free agency.
Lurie was asked about his role in that decision and the timing of it:
Certainly, Howie and I had long discussions about it. We thought the sooner we do it, the better because we wanted to give Nick every opportunity to be in the best possible situation and not have a team worry that we were potentially going to keep him and not have the opportunity to start, because there aren’t that many opportunities. We were also, to be honest about it, hoping that he would not end up with the Giants or the Redskins. That was part of it. We were very confident he was going to play for Jacksonville.
That last part is pretty interesting. While Lurie and the Eagles clearly wanted to do right by Foles, I wonder what would have happened if one of the teams in the division became the front-runner to land Foles. Would they then have been more likely to franchise tag Foles and then pick his destination for him?
That, of course, wasn’t the case. By the end of that week in Indy, the rest of the NFL world figured out what the Eagles already knew: Foles was going to Jacksonville.
Lurie said he vouched for Foles to other teams, who asked him: “What’s Nick like?” and “Can he be dynamic for anyone but you?”
Maybe in an alternate universe, Foles could have stayed in Philadelphia as the Eagles’ franchise quarterback. But in this universe, the Eagles have Carson Wentz and seem completely committed to signing him to a mega contract that will alter the future of the franchise.
But it sounds like Nick is welcome back for a visit any time.
“He’s a legend in Philadelphia, he will always be,” Lurie said. “He will be a part of our family forever.”
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