How committed are the Jaguars to QB Nick Foles?
By David Levin
After an offseason that saw the Jaguars basically get into a bidding war with themselves to obtain the services of QB Nick Foles, how committed is the team to his future with the franchise?
The Jaguars got their man. If there was any thought the team would seek any other quarterback in free agency, it was squashed with the announcement only hours into the feeding frenzy that the former Philadelphia Eagles hero Nick Foles would be playing this season in Jacksonville.
A roar of the fan base could be heard up and down the St. Johns River. For the first time since David Garrard took snaps in black and teal, there was a feeling of confidence at a position that had caused much controversy the past eight seasons.
The deal – four years and $88 million with $51 million in guaranteed money – was one of the richest deals the Jaguars had paid a player they had not drafted. All Foles has to do is deliver much as he did in Philadelphia in clutch situations. Oh, and he must get this team back to the postseason. It’s not as daunting as it might seem, but it is still a tough mountain to climb.
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With the smiles of the front office on display when Tom Coughlin formally introduced the team’s new leader, it was a given this was exactly what the franchise planned once the offseason began.
A story on ESPN.com talked about how committed teams were to their respective quarterbacks. It would be fair to say Jacksonville doesn’t want for any other player and could have found the guy who will make everyone forget past errors in judgment.
"“Some NFL teams are married to their quarterbacks,” writes Dan Graziano. “Some are just starting to get serious. Some are sitting across from their quarterbacks at a fancy restaurant blatantly eyeing a quarterback at the next table. It’s a complex and varied landscape, and it can be confusing.”"
There is no confusion here in Jacksonville. The Jaguars have shown how committed they are to winning again and proving 2018 was a flukish thing. It all begins with Foles, works with a running game that should be better this season and ends with a tenacious defense.
Those three items are the recipe for a Jaguars playoff berth. If they all work in concert, 2017 could be reinvented once again.
Graziano ranks the Jaguars fourth in the NFL in terms of their commitment to their signal caller. Matt Ryan of Atlanta, Russell Wilson of Seattle and Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay are the only ones ahead of the team in the AFC South.
"“The fun thing about an exercise like this is you learn stuff that surprises you. Such as: You could actually make an argument that the Jaguars are married to Foles for longer than the Packers are married to Rodgers,” Graziano writes.“Foles has fully guaranteed salaries of $5 million in 2019 and $15.125 million in 2020, and a $5 million 2021 roster bonus that becomes fully guaranteed next March. So if they don’t cut him by the third day of the 2020 league year, they owe him a guaranteed $5 million in 2021.”"
The Jaguars hope this move helps them heal from the mistake of signing Blake Bortles to the three-year, $54-million contract extension following the 2017 season. The team is on the hook for $16.5 million in dead cap space, which limited them in their free-agent spending and could be the reason the front office has not inked defensive end Yannick Ngakoue or defensive back Jalen Ramsey to a long-term deal.
If Foles gets Jacksonville back to the playoffs this season, then the big contract will be well worth it. If not, then the questions will once again circulate. For now, this move looks like the right one. The franchise is committed to No. 7 and his ability to lead a team to the Super Bowl. If he does that here, there is no telling what kind of contract he could write for himself when this current deal is done.