With Carson Wentz gone, will Eagles hand the keys to Jalen Hurts?

NFL

PHILADELPHIA — OK, Carson Wentz has been traded. What’s the plan at quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles and how does it include Jalen Hurts?

The questions become the central focus of the offseason now that Wentz Watch wrapped with a deal to the Indianapolis Colts for a third-round draft pick in 2021 and a conditional second-round pick in ’22.

The Eagles have several options, including:

  • Hand the keys to Hurts, their second-round pick from a year ago, and add a supportive veteran to back him up.

  • Sign or trade for a quarterback to compete for the Eagles’ starting role.

  • Use the No. 6 overall pick, or even trade up, to select a quarterback in April’s draft, whether it be Zach Wilson (BYU), Trey Lance (North Dakota State), Justin Fields (Ohio State) or Mac Jones (Alabama).

We know, for starters, that the Eagles’ decision-makers like Hurts. There were mixed opinions of him inside the building leading up to last year’s draft, but he had some strong advocates, including Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, sources said. Hurts breathed life into the offense when he took over for Wentz over the final quarter of the season and led Philadelphia to an upset Week 14 win against the New Orleans Saints in his first career start. But Hurts cooled some down the stretch and finished with a 52% completion rate and six touchdowns to four interceptions while rushing for 354 yards and three scores.

Last season confirmed to management Hurts has a chance to succeed in the NFL, but given the small sample size and mixed results on the field, it would be impossible to know for sure whether he is the guy.

We know investing heavily in the quarterback position is a principal organizational philosophy. It has worked out spectacularly at times, as the statue of former Philly QB Nick Foles outside Lincoln Financial Field reminds us, and it backfired on them in a huge way this past year, with Wentz recoiling from the organization following the drafting of Hurts. Through the good and bad, the Eagles remain hyper-aware of the importance of getting that position right, and will continue to be aggressive toward that end.

Finally, we know the Eagles are salary-cap strapped. They absorbed a dead-cap hit of more than $33 million by trading Wentz and are currently projected to be about $50 million over the 2021 cap. They are not in great position to add a QB with a significant salary in free agency, and given that they’re in the midst of a rebuild, will be more reticent than normal to part with draft picks.

Given all those factors, expect the Eagles to look very closely at the top quarterbacks in this draft. They don’t intend on drafting this high up very often, and are feeling the weight of making the right decision with that No. 6 pick. If the best player is a non-QB, so be it. But if the Eagles identify what they believe to be a long-term solution at the most important position in football, and can have that player locked into a rookie contract for the next several seasons, then don’t be surprised if they pounce, even if it means another quarterback controversy in Philadelphia.

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