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NFL AM: Rams Release Nick Foles, Who Draws Immediate Open Market Interest

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On the eve of their first training camp back in Los Angeles, the Rams released the quarterback who just one year ago they thought might be their guy for the future.

Los Angeles parted ways with QB Nick Foles on Wednesday, capping a 16-month tenure that saw him go from part of a blockbuster trade involving former No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford to third on the Rams depth chart. That fall from grace had the four-year veteran asking for a trade or his release and when no suitors came to the table for trade discussions, LA granted Foles his walking papers.

“We have been in contact with Nick and his representation throughout the offseason and we feel that this is the best decision for all parties involved,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said in a statement. “We appreciate the contributions that Nick has made to our organization in his time as a Ram and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.”

The writing has been on the wall for months signaling Foles’ departure from a franchise that made the move from St. Louis to Los Angeles this offseason. It began when the University of Arizona product lost his starting gig in St. Louis to Case Keenum late last season. After arriving from Philadelphia along with draft picks in exchange for Bradford and picks, Foles was handed the reins of the Rams offense and got off to an impressive start, beating the Seattle Seahawks in his first start for St. Louis. He was also outstanding in a Week 4 return to his old stomping ground of Arizona, where he threw three touchdown passes to help the Rams defeat the Cardinals.

However, just one week later, Foles threw four interceptions in a loss to the Green Bay Packers and he was never the same after. He did pick up two more wins in the weeks to come, but his final four weeks as starter were an unmitigated disaster. He completed just 53.3 percent of his passes for 742 yards with now touchdowns and five interceptions as the Rams lost all four games. He lost the job to Keenum in the middle of that stretch but got two more starts after his replacement suffered a concussion in his first start. Once Keenum cleared concussion protocol, Foles was benched permanently and the Rams went 3-1 under Keenum to finish the season.

That alone would’ve likely been enough to clear a path for Foles’ departure from the Rams, but the the franchise went out and acquired the top pick in the NFL Draft and used it on University of California quarterback Jared Goff, who is eventually expected to be the team’s starter, if not by Week 1 of this season then soon thereafter. That shifts Keenum back to the reserve spot and puts Foles at third on the depth chart, making the decision to cut him an easy one for the Rams once they failed to find a trade partner.

But Foles should have plenty of suitors on the open market, as there are several teams who could use an upgraded insurance policy at backup quarterback. Despite last year’s trials, Foles still holds a 19-16 record as a starter. The former third round pick is not that far from moved from a Pro Bowl caliber 2013 season in which he made 10 starts for the Eagles and completed 64 percent of his passes for nearly 3,000 yards and 27 touchdowns against just two interceptions. He topped the league in quarterback rating, touchdown percentage, yards per attempt and yards per completion while leading Philly to an 8-2 record in his starts.

The 27-year-old Foles has regressed significantly in the two years since. In his last 19 starts over two seasons, he’s thrown 20 interceptions. His completion percentage has dropped by six percent since that career-best 2013 campaign and his touchdown percentage has been sliced in half each of the last two seasons. That all makes it pretty clear that he isn’t going to be a consistent starting caliber quarterback in the NFL, but you could also do worse as a backup and a lot of teams are doing worse right now. Here’s a look at some of the teams that could be after Foles on the open market.

  • DALLAS COWBOYS – Last season proved that the Cowboys definitely need a stronger insurance policy for aging and fragile quarterback Tony Romo, who went down to injury twice last season as a once promising season spun out of control in Big D. But Dallas did very little this offseason to address that need, instead retaining Kellen Moore, who finished last season as the starter. They did draft Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott in the fourth round, however Prescott is a long-term project and the team needs short term insurance for Romo. Moore and Jameill Showers aren’t that, and it would behoove the Cowboys to take a flier on Foles, who they have plenty experience with having seen him several times across the field with the Eagles.
  • DENVER BRONCOS – The Super Bowl Champion Broncos are perhaps the most quarterback-needy team in the league after their top two QBs deserted them this offseason with Peyton Manning retiring and Brock Osweiler departing for Houston. That left Denver with just one QB, Trevor Siemian. The team did, however, acquire Mark Sanchez from Philadelphia and then drafted Paxton Lynch making this an unlikely fit. Foles and Sanchez are similar players at this point. What Denver needs is a starter for 2016 and Foles is not that any more than Sanchez is.
  • BALTIMORE RAVENS – The Ravens found out firsthand last season what it is like to go through a long stretch without your franchise quarterback and it was not a pretty picture in Baltimore. The Ravens tumbled to their worst record in eight years last season and after starter Joe Flacco went down in Week 11, they started three different quarterbacks over the final six games. Flacco should be back for the start of this season, but Baltimore needs better insurance than their current No. 2 Ryan Mallett can offer. If another injury were to strike, Foles would be much better suited to step in and lead a veteran team than the short-tempered Mallett.
  • DETROIT LIONS – The Lions seem to be stuck in a perpetual state of mediocrity, but things could get really bad really fast if Matthew Stafford were to miss any time. Stafford has started every game each of the last five seasons, but freak incidents happen and Detroit would be in much better position with Foles behind Stafford than their current backup Dan Orlovsky, who is most famous for running out of the back of his own end zone for a safety.
  • INDIANAPOLIS COLTS – Another team that suffered somewhat when their starting quarterback went down to injury last season. That does come with the territory to a certain extent when you have a star quarterback. There is going to be some degree of dropoff to his replacement regardless. But it doesn’t have to be as steep as some have had, which Indy showed last year when they were able to replace Andrew Luck with veteran Matt Hasselbeck. But Hasselbeck has since retired and Indy’s current backup for Luck is Scott Tolzien. This seems like a very good fir for Foles.
  • SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS – The 49ers certainly don’t need a quarterback of Foles’ caliber. They already have two in Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick. But Chip Kelly is known as a guy who tends to favor “his guys” and with his breakout 2013 season under Kelly in Philly, Foles definitively became one of those. The Eagles were 14-4 over two season under Kelly with Foles as their QB and with the quarterback situation in San Francisco still very much unsettled between Gabbert and Kaepernick, the new Niners coach could look to bring in somewhat he has familiarity and a history of success with to lead his new team rather than stick with two similar old standards.

The Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Minnesota Vikings and a slew of other teams could also jump into the Foles sweepstakes to improve their backup situation. Regardless, Foles shouldn’t be out of work for long and some team is likely better off with him than without him.


About Devon Jeffreys

Devon Jeffreys