Insiders

NFL AM: Nick Foles Chooses Chiefs, To Be Reunited with Andy Reid

on

It was only a matter of time after the Los Angeles Rams cut Nick Foles that four-year NFL veteran would find work elsewhere. On Thursday night, he landed in a somewhat unlikely locale.

Foles agreed to a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs that will likely put him in line to backup starter Alex Smith in KC. The former Philadelphia and St. Louis signal caller reportedly had his choice of several suitors, with the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings also extending offers but he chose a Chiefs team that has some familiarity for him. The deal reunites Foles with head coach Andy Reid, who was part of the Eagles contingent that drafted him in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

It’s an interesting decision for both Foles and the Chiefs. Smith is entrenched as the starter in Kansas City after leading the team to a 11-5 record last year and a playoff win, which capped a 10-game late season winning streak. Smith has also missed just two games over his three seasons in KC meaning the opportunity for Foles to play is going to be limited. That would also have been true in Dallas and Minnesota, but with the Cowboys at least, the opportunity is a little more real because of the fragile nature of starting quarterback Tony Romo’s health. The inconsistency of Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater also could’ve created an opportunity for Foles to get some starts.

Instead he went with something more familiar and less opportunistic. The Chiefs had been in the market for a backup after Chase Daniel bolted for Philadelphia this offseason, but before Foles landed on the market it appeared likely that the battle for that gig would come down to former University of Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray or 2014 fifth round pick out of Georgia Aaron Murray. Kansas City also used a 2016 fifth round pick on former Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan. Those choices left experience to be desired for the Chiefs, as none of those players has competed in a regular season NFL game.

Foles offers experience in spades should Smith go down or get off to a dreadful start to the season. The University of Arizona product has started at least six games and played in at least seven each of his first four seasons. He played poorly in six starts under Reid as an Eagles rookie back in 2012, but thrived in his second season with Philadelphia under new coach Chip Kelly, helping the Eagles win the NFC East and reach the postseason.

During that 2013 season, Foles put up some gaudy averages and was virtually flawless in his touchdown-interception ratio (27-2). He landed a Pro Bowl nod despite starting just 10 games in the regular season. But he wasn’t able to play with the same consistency in his third season and though he got the Eagles off to a 6-2 start in 2014, a broken collarbone spelled the end of his season and ultimately his Eagles career.

That offseason, Foles was traded with draft picks to the then St. Louis Rams for former No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford and draft picks. Thinks never quite worked out for Foles in St. Louis, where he was eventually usurped for the starting job by Case Keenum. Once the team drafted Jared Goff No. 1 overall in April, the writing was on the wall that Foles’ time with the Rams was up.

If nothing else, the four-year veteran will provide stability for the Chiefs behind Smith at the backup quarterback position, perhaps even more than they had there with Daniel holding the clipboard the last few seasons. And after the season he had in 2015, that’s about the best Foles could’ve hoped for. He wasn’t ever going to find a starting job, or even the opportunity to compete for one in 2016.

It’s presents an interesting conundrum for Kansas City though, as they now have a logjam at quarterback behind Smith and Foles. If the Chiefs even choose to roster a third quarterback, they’ll have to choose between two players they spent recent draft capital on in Murray and Hogan and Bray, who has hung around on the fringes of the roster for three seasons for some reason.

As a playoff team, it makes sense that they’d prefer stability to potential at backup quarterback, but they’re going to have to give up on either a player they were developing in Murray, or a player they were hoping to develop in Hogan, and perhaps both of them, just to have that security. And it’s likely both those players will find work elsewhere.

COWBOYS CONTINUE SEARCHING FOR BACKUP HELP

One place they could turn to try and flip one of their other quarterbacks could be the Dallas Cowboys, who were left out in the cold by Foles’ decision to sign in Kansas City.

Dallas had initially expressed a lack of interest in Foles after the Rams cut the veteran, but when Cowboys backup Kellen Moore suffered a broken ankle at training camp, their tune changed and they went after Foles. Now the Cowboys are forced to regroup and look elsewhere to add veteran help.

The free agent market is relatively dry with Michael Vick, Matt Flynn, Charlie Whitehurst and T.J. Yates the “cream” of the crop left available. That likely means Dallas will turn to the trade market, and there are some attractive options there.

If the Chiefs are shopping Murray, he probably has the most potential of any player Dallas could obtain, but he might not be in play for the same reason Kansas City wasn’t willing to live with him as Smith’s backup: he has no prior experience as a starter should he be thrust into action. The Cowboys have potential on their quarterback depth chart with Dak Prescott and Jameill Showers. What they’re seeking out for the QB2 spot is experience.

Currently the most likely scenario has the Cowboys reaching out to the Cleveland Browns to trade for quarterback Josh McCown, who is currently engaged in a training camp battle with Robert Griffin III for the starting job in Cleveland. Dallas would probably only be willing to part with a late round draft pick for the 35-year-old McCown, who has hung around the league for 14 years, playing 77 games, including 57 starts for seven different teams while compiling an 18-39 record as a starter. But with Griffin’s health shaky, the Browns might not be willing to part with McCown for little gain.

Dallas could also reach out to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers about their backup, Mike Glennon. The 2013 third round pick started 18 games over his first two seasons in Tampa Bay and showed flashes of potential, but was pushed to a permanent position as backup at best when the Bucs drafted Jameis Winston first overall in 2015.

There are multiple other teams Dallas could engage in quarterback talks, or they could wait for cuts to begin while allowing Showers and Prescott a chance to shine. But it seems unlikely, given the fragile state of Romo’s health, that a perennial contender like the Cowboys goes into the season with two developmental players as the only options behind their star quarterback in the pecking order. They’ll bring in someone to replace Moore. It’s just a matter of who, when and how.

GIANTS SIGN LEON HALL

Across the NFC East, the team Dallas will meet in Week 1 of the 2016 season continued to solidify the backend of their defense, which is looking as strong as it has in quite some time.

The New York Giants signed cornerback Leon Hall to a one-year, $2 million contract on Friday morning, adding the nine-year veteran to the mix in their secondary, which had already been improved this offseason with the signing of former Rams corner Janoris Jenkins and first round draft selection of Eli Apple out of Ohio State. The 31-year-old Hall had also been pursued by his former team, the Cincinnati Bengals, who he spent all of his first nine pro seasons with, but chose a fresh start in New York instead.

The 2007 first round pick of the Bengals built a solid career with the AFC North contenders, with 105 starts and 121 games played over nine seasons. He’s compiled 26 interceptions and 112 passes defensed over those years. The 26 picks place him 10th among active corners. He was solid for Cincy last year, adding two more picks and eight more pass breakups despite being phased into a reserve role due to the Bengals’ own growing depth at the position. They attempted to bring him back this week after starter William Jackson III went down with a torn pectoral muscle, but Hall wasn’t having it.

His arrival at Giants camp deepens a secondary that is already in good shape led by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Jenkins. Hall will likely slot in as the team’s slot corner, taking some pressure off the rookie Apple to perform from the outset of the 2016 season. Secondary play was a weak link for New York last season, as the team allowed the most yards in the league, an average of 420.3 per game, with 298.9 of those coming through the air, also most in the league.

The signing of Jenkins, draft selection of Apple and now the singing of Hall should all help matters on the backend, as will the team’s reinvigorated pass rush, headlined by new arrivals Damon Harris and Olivier Vernon. The Giants defense looks like it could be a strong suit this season, and that combined with the team’s vaunted aerial attack on offense could be enough to push New York back to the top of a competitive but ultimately weak NFC East.


About Devon Jeffreys

Devon Jeffreys