Credit Philadelphia's front office for being as decisive about Nick Foles' future as Foles was during his game-winning playoff drive against the Bears. By quickly announcing that Carson Wentz is the team's starting quarterback moving forward, the Eagles acknowledged it's time to let Foles go.
It's not like Philly really has an option. Foles and his agent used the leverage from the QB's Super Bowl LII MVP star turn to construct a new contract that would give them flexibility this offseason. The Eagles could decline the $20 million option in his contract by Feb. 10 rather than force Foles to pay back $2 million for his freedom. That would be a parting gift for a job well done, a city and organization forever changed. Another option would be for Foles to essentially hand-pick a potential trading partner.
Foles is set to be the most highly coveted quarterback in a market that is set to balloon with veterans like Joe Flacco and Ryan Tannehill. And Foles has made it clear he's no longer interested in being a backup.
"I would love to lead a team," Foles told reporters after the season. "The starter thing, leading a team, impacting a locker room ... that's why we play the game, to impact people, to create an atmosphere. ... I'm really starting to understand how I want to play this game. My game has changed, seeing what's important and really just being myself."
The devotion Foles engendered in the Eagles' locker room with his leadership style and his play impressed even his biggest skeptics. After backing up his Super Bowl run with another stirring late-season surge, he's earned a chance to run a team of his own. This is a unique offseason, with fewer teams than normal looking for a starting quarterback, and that could narrow Foles' options. So where are his most likely landing spots?
1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Jacksonville's hire of former Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo as offensive coordinator provides some clarity to the pursuit of Foles. It's the Jaguars against the field, and I wouldn't bet against the Jaguars.
DeFilippo's experience with Foles isn't the only factor here. Even if the Jags had hired a different coordinator, I would have listed them first in this exercise, because they have the most desperate need at the position. While getting rid of Blake Bortles' regrettable contract won't help Jacksonville's already-stretched salary cap that much, the Jaguars have repeatedly shown in the past they aren't afraid to be aggressive in free agency. They missed out on the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes before doubling down on Bortles and can't risk another lost season. Marcell Dareus and Malik Jackson could be at risk of getting released to make room for a quarterback contract.
This is a Jacksonville regime thirsty to prove last year's 5-11 record was the aberration (rather than the aberration being the previous season's AFC Championship Game appearance). Acquiring Foles is the Jaguars' best chance to quickly rebound and prove the team's 2018 failures were mostly about the quarterback position. One year is all that coach Doug Marrone and general manager Dave Caldwell may have.
2) Miami Dolphins: The Miami Herald reported that the Dolphins will move on from Ryan Tannehill shortly after a disappointing Week 16 performance. It's possible that emotionally timed decision, which appeared to come from on high, could change as the reality of this free-agent market and draft class becomes clear.
Still, it's more likely than not that the Dolphins try change for change's sake at the position, pairing a veteran-to-be-named-later with a draft pick. Foles would make sense to be high on the team's target list, no matter who presumptive head coach Brian Flores brings as offensive coordinator. (Patriots wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea is the favorite to land the coordinator gig, while Jim Caldwell is expected to join the team in a senior advisory role.)
3) Washington Redskins:Alex Smith's uncertain status hangs over the franchise. The Redskins need to make a decision about his future by March, unless they adjust his contract soon so that future guarantees don't get locked in. Even if they work that out with Smith's agent, they can't count on him as their starter for 2019 because of the severity of his compound leg fracture.
Adding Foles' contract would be tricky, with so much of Smith's money on the books. This is also an outcome the Eagles will want to avoid -- St. Nick on a division rival -- if they wind up trading Foles rather than letting him hit free agency.
4) Denver Broncos: John Elway admitted that Case Keenum is a "short-term fix." If the team can upgrade to Foles this offseason, they could change that phrase to "was a short-term fix." Eating the $7 million guaranteed in Keenum's contract is no crazier than the Jaguars paying Bortles to go away. New Broncos coordinator Rich Scangarello's background is in Kyle Shanahan's system, a cousin to the Andy Reid/Doug Pederson offenses that Foles enjoyed his best success in.
5) New York Giants:Eli Manning's agent believes his client will be back with the Giants next season. While the organization has made fewer promises than usual, I'm expecting Manning to be the quarterback until one of his children can take over. The Giants are understandably afraid of what's behind Door No. 2 at quarterback with few safe options available, but it's not like the team can do much worse than going 8-24 over the last two years. And like the Redskins, the Giants obviously wouldn't be an ideal trade partner for Philly, given the divisional rivalry.