By Pete Baxter
It was announced on Saturday that the Philadelphia Eagles had acquired quarterback Gardner Minshew from the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Eagles sent a conditional sixth-round pick back in return.
Minshew became available after Jaguars coach Urban Meyer officially announced on Wednesday that first overall pick Trevor Lawrence would be the Day 1 starter for the Jaguars. Minshew gained a cult following during his Jacksonville tenure due to his unique style and sense of humor. Comparisons with the classic Napoleon Dynamite character Uncle Rico led to viral Youtube videos.
The Eagles quickly moved to release third-string quarterback Nick Mullens following the Minshew acquisition. Mullens had struggled greatly during the preseason and lost the confidence of the Eagles front office.
So, what does this deal mean for the Philadelphia Eagles? Specifically, what does it mean for the other quarterbacks on the roster? Let’s take a closer look.
Impact on the Team
The Eagles add a great insurance policy behind starter Jalen Hurts. The Eagles traded a low draft pick (a sixth-round pick that could become a fifth-round pick if Minshew meets playing time requirements) for a 25-year-old quarterback with effective starting experience. He is a far better option than almost any project quarterback they could have otherwise used that pick to draft.
Minshew, in 20 starts for the Jaguars, proved himself to be a capable, if not overly impressive, starting quarterback. In his 2019 rookie season, he led a bad Jaguars team to a .500 record in 12 starts. He three 21 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions. Minshew completed just over 60% of his passes while racking up 3,271 yards through the air.
2020 saw him start eight games for an even worse Jaguars squad, where he finished just 1-7. He still did a great job protecting the football, throwing 16 touchdowns to just five picks. His completion percentage improved to a solid 66%. However, it wasn’t enough for him to win the trust of the franchise moving forward, especially once the Jaguars had the opportunity to take generational talent Trevor Lawrence with the first pick in this year’s draft.
Minshew is undersized at just 6’1”. He doesn’t have great arm talent, and while is he relatively mobile, he isn’t a standout athlete either. That said, he found some success as a starter and game manager, while igniting some level of interest from a downtrodden Jaguars’ fan base.
In fact, Minshew could easily compete for the starting role on several teams. He has put up better numbers that Sam Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater and does a better job protecting the football than Daniel Jones or Jameis Winston.
He enters as the third-string quarterback behind starter Jalen Hurts and 36-year-old backup Joe Flacco. Flacco, a former Super Bowl MVP, has the more impressive overall resume at this point. However, Minshew has been the better quarterback for the past two seasons. Flacco struggled in his lone season in Denver in 2019. He was ineffective in filling in for an injured Sam Darnold in New York last season. Minshew should and probably will unseat Joe Flacco as Hurts’ primary backup.
Ultimately, the Eagles now have one of the top backup quarterbacks in the league. Should Hurts face an injury or COVID-related challenge this season, Minshew should be able to keep the Eagles on track.
Impact on Jalen Hurts
This deal should have little to no impact on Jalen Hurts or his role with the team.
The Eagles used a first-round pick on Hurts just a year ago. They have committed to him as the team’s quarterback of the future. While he has less starting experience than Minshew, he has a far better arm, far greater athleticism, and a much, much higher ceiling.
Hurts has already showed notable improvement in his preseason and training camp appearances. He has earned rave reviews from the veterans on the team and has proven himself to be a strong leader. This is Hurts’ team. Minshew is simply a major upgrade as a backup.
Hurts has proven throughout his career that he is a strong-minded player who is not easily shaken by competition. He bounced back to have a great senior year at Oklahoma after losing his starting job to Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama. He showed great poise and leadership at the center of a dumpster fire of dysfunction in Philadelphia during his rookie year.
In an absolute worst-case scenario, in which Hurts fails to live up to his promise and struggles mightily this season, Minshew would certainly provide better competition for the starting role that Flacco or the since-departed Mullens. However, I would fully expect the Eagles to give Hurts a long leash this year as he and this young team develops.
This is a great, low-risk deal for the Eagles. Minshew is extremely affordable, set to make just $850,000 this season. He has two years left on his rookie deal.
He is a great insurance policy behind Hurts. Minshew also gives the Eagles flexibility, as they have the option to shop the more expensive Joe Flacco (set to make $3.5 million this season) to other teams looking to improve their own quarterback depth.
This is still Jalen Hurts’ team but adding a proven 25-year-old quarterback with successful starting experience as a backup is a smart move. Minshew, with his long hair and signature mustache is also bound to sell some jerseys.
More to come from Philadelphia.