Nick Foles could be traded this offseason. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Should the Steelers be Interested in Trading for Quarterback Nick Foles?

To be completely honest, I was surprised to see that the Chiefs traded for Alex Smith to fill their gaping hole at Quarterback instead of Nick Foles.  With Smith heading to “B.B.Q. Paradise,” one could say that Nick’s current situation in Philadelphia still remains less than “ideal.”  In fact, it does not appear like large amounts of playing time will be available for Foles to take advantage of with the Eagles’ new coaching regime in town either.

Because Philadelphia hired Option-Offense guru Chip Kelly to be their new Head Coach, the soon to be 2nd-year Quarterback’s drop-back style might not fit in well with the team’s “new-look” Offense which could feature a significant amount of Read-Option and Quarterback running plays.  Worst of all, the Turnover-prone yet athletic Michael Vick has signed on for another season with the team, and Kelly’s Option Quarterback at the collegiate level, Dennis Dixon, was recently acquired as a Free Agent too.

So why am I bringing all of this up right now?

Well, I believe that Pittsburgh’s brass should try to negotiate a trade to acquire the former Arizona Wildcat signal-caller.  This decision in turn could provide the Steelers with some adequate Quarterback depth in the present, and possibly even a long-term starter at the position in the future.

 

Nick Foles: From U of A to the N.F.L.:

For those of you who did not know, I actually watched Foles’ entire college career at the University of Arizona.  During his three-year career in Tucson, Foles was one of the Pac-10′s most effective Quarterbacks not named Andrew Luck or Matt Barkley.  In fact, Nick was quite the efficient Quarterback for the Wildcats as he completed a career 933 passes over 1,395 Attempts (66.9%), passed for 10,011 Yards, threw 67 Touchdowns compared to 33 Interceptions, and led the ‘Cats to Holiday and Alamo Bowl berths.

Unfortunately for the former Wildcat, he lacked a large amount of play-makers around him to take his game to a higher level at Arizona, most notably Rob Gronkowski.  Eventually, his lack of weapons, coupled with his raw skill-set, perceived lack of athleticism, and footwork were probably what helped to drive him down into the 3rd Round of the N.F.L. Draft last year.

In 2012 though, Nick actually got a chance to see extended playing time illustrated his toughness as he was forced to start 7 games during his Rookie season after Vick went down with an injury (he even went 6 for 10 for 144 Yards and 2 TD’s vs. Pittsburgh during the Preseason opener).  Due to the injuries and lack of talent along Philadelphia’s Offensive Line, Nick was beaten mercilessly for much of the year (20 Sacks in 7 starts), and things were not easy as the Eagles sagged to a 4-12 record.  But to the then-Rookie’s credit, he continued to get back up every time he was knocked down, and gutted out a decent season stat-line of 1,699 Yards Passing, 6 Touchdowns, and 5 Interceptions as he went 1-6 as the Eagles’ starter.

Although Foles struggled last year at times and finished the season on Injured Reserve (hand), for a player like him to gut out behind a make-shift Offensive Line and show flashes of success was promising to watch for any team looking to upgrade their backup Quarterback situation or acquire a developmental starter.

A big-bodied Quarterback (6’6″ 243 lbs.), Foles is not considered the most nimble or mobile of signal-callers, a trait which is what makes him a candidate to leave Philadelphia.  Nevertheless, Nick was, and still remains a confident and heady pocket-passer who can make every throw on the field, and can do so in an accurate fashion. The former Wildcat also possesses a very strong arm, is capable of making good decisions outside the pocket when necessary, and did not flinch when he was thrown into the proverbial “fire” last year.  So although Foles could benefit from more time to develop, he is definitely a player who could become a solid Quarterback if he is groomed for another two to three years on a team with a capable starter already in place.

 

Why a Trade for Foles Could Work:

Listen, Chip Kelly can espouse all the “I Want to Keep Foles” rhetoric he wants to over the next few months.  But it would make little sense whatsoever for the Eagles to not try to unload their “fish out of water” signal-caller over the next two months.

It is highly unlikely that Philadelphia is going to keep three Quarterbacks on their roster if one of them does not factor in to their long-term Offensive plans.  Kelly ran an Offense in college centered around mobile signal-callers like Dennis Dixon, and Michael Vick would be a better option for him to turn to than the less-than-fleet former Wildcat if the Quarterback is required to run, and run often.  Plus it would not benefit the rebuilding Eagles to use a roster spot on a player like Foles at the expense of a mobile potential draft-pick like E.J. Manuel or Foles’ backup at Arizona Matt Scott, let alone another position of need like Cornerback, Defensive Tackle, or Offensive Tackle.

Thus, Philadelphia’s brass could be willing to move their 2012 3rd Round pick for a selection of equal (3rd Round) or more value (2nd Round) by the time the Draft begins to help with their rebuilding process.

But is a player like Foles really worth a 2nd Round pick for a team like Pittsburgh?

Although some might question a move in which the rebuilding Steelers would spend a 2nd Round pick on a now-backup Quarterback, let me put the following in perspective:

 

  • As we enter the 2013 offseason, Foles already has one arduous yet valuable season of development under his belt.  With this in mind, he is much more prepared to step in and contribute at the Quarterback position than most if not all of the Rookies who could potentially be drafted in Rounds 2, 3, or 4 this year.  Overall, Foles took a large amount of lumps as a Rookie starter on the disaster ship known as the “2012 Eagles.”  The short but meaningful 7-game audition in turn allowed Foles to gain a valuable amount of experience during what was supposed to be a “development” year for him.

 

  • From a financial perspective, the former Wildcat would be a relatively cost-effective, if not cheap pickup.  Until he reaches UFA status in 2016, he is only scheduled to make $520,068 in Base Salary this year, $635,068 in 2014, and $680, 068 in 2015.  Ponder that when you consider how Pittsburgh’s current backups like the perpetually injured Byron Leftwich (UFA this Spring) and Charlie Batch (39 years of age in December and a pending UFA this Spring) are the franchise’s “depth” behind “Big Ben.”

 

  • In fact, if the Steelers take any sort of Defensive player in Round 2, then said Rookie will more than likely have to sit, wait, and watch for an extended period on the “pine pony.”  Remember, it has been par for the course for Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau to essentially let his Rookies develop/rot on the bench no matter how talented they are unless injuries decimate the starting lineup.  So if you want to complain that the pick could be traded for a backup and developmental Quarterback, it could be just as easily used to select a backup Outside Linebacker or backup Safety who will not play for two to three years as well.

 

  • Here’s a quick list of some awesome 2nd Round investments the Steelers have made over the last 10 years, remember the Steelers did not have picks in the 2nd Round in 2006 or 2009: Alonzo Jackson, Ricardo Colclough, Limas Sweed, and Jason Worilds.  Look, I understand not every pick can be a “winner.”  Yet Pittsburgh would at least be acquiring a more “known” quantity at an important position with Foles in Round 2, as opposed to gambling on “unknown” quantities in the same area.

 

Final Thoughts

To me at least, a 2nd or a 3rd Round pick would be a small price to pay for the services of a young and talented backup signal-caller who has the potential to develop into the starting Quarterback of the future.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that the Steelers could benefit greatly from adding Foles as a cost-effective insurance policy right now.

Sure, Ben Roethlisberger is a Pro Bowl Quarterback at this point in his career, and he will be “QB#1″ in Pittsburgh until his career is finished here.  But you know what?  Ben cannot play forever.  His whiny behavior about his Offensive Coordinator was pretty ridiculous last year, and I am sure it rubbed many including Haley and the Front Office the wrong way.  In addition, Roethlisberger is also on the wrong side of 30, has a history of injuries, and has only played a full 16 game regular season once in his entire N.F.L. career.  In terms of the depth behind “Big Ben,” the cupboard is essentially “bare,” and the future looks dim.  The perpetually injured Byron Leftwich will likely be not tendered a new contract this offseason, and Charlie Batch will turn 39 this December.  I mean, I hate to be a “Negative Nancy,” but those two are not exactly the types “sure-fire” or reliable backups Pittsburgh’s Offense can turn to over the next two to three years.

Speculation of a potential trade aside, what is true is the fact that Pittsburgh sure could use some depth at Quarterback in the present, and a future starter to develop for the future,  This franchise must put a “P.B.” (Post-Ben) transition-strategy in place for when that day comes when #7 is either too injured or too old to play another down of football.  Whether Foles or someone else is the answer to that question has yet to be determined.  Yet I believe that we can all agree on the point that a cost-friendly investment at the Quarterback position for backup purposes would definitely not hurt this franchise in the least bit.

So come on Colbert & Co..  Stop wasting your time and effort on meaningless offseason acquisitions who are “past-their-prime,” and add close to nothing to the team’s rebuilding plans like Steve Breaston.

Instead, why don’t you at least “kick the tires” on Foles, and see exactly how willing Philadelphia might be to part with their out-of-place signal-caller over the next two months?

 

 

Readers:  Do you agree with me?  Should the Steelers at the very least “kick the tires” on Foles?  Should they try to acquire another young Quarterback via trade?  Should they draft one this April instead?

 

Stats Courtesy of: College Football Reference and ESPN.com

Contract Info Courtesy of: Spotrac.com

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Tags: 2013 Offseason Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback

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