By Pete Baxter
As the great Harry Dunne once said in the classic comedy Dumb and Dumber:
“Just when I thought you couldn’t get any dumber, you go and do something like this…and totally redeem yourself!”
On Tuesday, it was announced that the Philadelphia Eagles had traded veteran backup Joe Flacco to the New York Jets for a conditional sixth-round pick. The pick could turn into a fifth-rounder if Flacco meets minimum playing time requirements (which with Jets’ rookie Zach Wilson sidelined two to four weeks with a knee injury, is entirely possible).
While the Eagles’ trade of Flacco certainly doesn’t redeem their 2-5 start or Howie Roseman and company’s more questionable decisions of the past, it was a lowkey brilliant move for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Let’s take a look at three reasons why the trade, while seemingly a minor roster tweak, is actually a win for this franchise:
Flacco’s Services Were No Longer Needed
For starters, Joe Flacco simplywas an unnecessary, $3.5 million piece on this team. Flacco had been signed to be a veteran backup and mentor for hopeful quarterback of the future Jalen Hurts. Honestly, Flacco did not seem like the right fit for either of those roles.
Flacco had never shown interest in being a mentor. He was even quoted after signing with the team stating that his “goal as a football player is to show people around you that you can play football.” Flacco stressed that he did not see himself as a mentor, but someone brought in to compete.
His role as backup became an equally bad fit after the team acquired third-year quarterback Gardner Minshew from the Jacksonville Jaguars for a conditional sixth-round draft pick (the pick could become a fifth-rounder if Minshew were to play in at least half of three games). Flacco had been well into the downward slope of the back-nine of his career, having struggled over the previous three seasons primarily as a backup with the Ravens, Broncos and Jets.
Minshew, on the other hand, had performed surprisingly well on bad Jaguars teams for the previous two seasons. However, he ultimately stood no chance in keeping the starting job over first overall pick Trevor Lawrence. Minshew has an outstanding 37 touchdowns to 11 picks for his career and has been deceptively athletic with nearly 500 yards rushing through 20 starts. Minshew is a viable, up-and-coming starter and a great safety net behind Jalen Hurts.
A bad fit as a mentor, and an overpaid (soon to be) third-string quarterback, Flacco’s time in Philly was up.
Recouping the Minshew Pick
In acquiring a conditional sixth-round pick for Flacco, the Eagles recouped virtually the same pick that they sent away for Minshew just three months earlier. At first glance, that is already a smart move. The clearly rebuilding Eagles can use all the draft capital they can get.
Even more impressive, is that, in a roundabout way, the Eagles essentially swapped Joe Flacco for Gardner Minshew straight up. Last season, on similarly bad teams, Minshew had a greater completion percentage (66.1% to Flacco’s 55.2%), yards per attempt (6.93 to Flacco’s 6.4), touchdown/interception ratio (3.2:1 to Flacco’s 2:1) and averaged 17 yards per game on the ground to just 4.4 for Flacco. The 25-year-old Minshew is a superior quarterback to the 36-year-old Flacco at this point. He has a much higher upside.
Oh, and it’s worth noting that Flacco is set to be paid nearly four times as much as Minshew’s $850 thousand salary this season.
Fleecing the Jets
Well, in essence the Jets fleeced themselves. The Eagles were simply on the receiving end of the Jets’ most recent example of ineptitude.
The Jets opted to let Joe Flacco walk during the offseason and entered the 2021 season with zero veteran quarterbacks behind rookie Zach Wilson. No, Mike White, who had never played in an NFL game, does not count.
Unsurprisingly, this gameplan backfired. Wilson has looked at least as lost as his inexperienced as Robert Saleh and his coaching staff and is now out with an injury. The Jets had no one with any NFL experience to relieve him. Mike White, unsurprisingly, was just as unprepared as Wilson.
Now, after letting him walk, the Jets have sacrificed a draft pick to bring Flacco back midseason to try to learn a whole new offense in a week.
Classic Joe Douglas.
We are one step closer to full-blown Minshew-mania in Philadelphia.
Okay, so barring an injury to Jalen Hurts, we are still a way off from seeing Minshew and his patented facial hair on the field for in-game action. Jalen Hurts has been inconsistent but, to this point, has showed enough to keep his starting job. He is hyper-athletic, has shown strong leadership potential, and has shown some improvement in his accuracy from his rookie season (though he still leaves much to be desired). He has carried this team to what little success they have found.
That said, if the Eagles continue moving in the wrong direction and Hurts regresses, and it becomes fully evident that he is not the answer at quarterback, the team has a viable starting quarterback waiting in the wings.
Meanwhile, Joe Flacco, a champion and Super Bowl MVP nearly a decade ago, may have one last chance to show he can still play.
More to come.