By Connor Thomas,
Yesterday, the Eagles welcomed the Delaware Valley’s own Joe Flacco into his hometown team’s fold, signing the veteran free agent QB to a 1 year contract. Flacco’s deal, as reported by Adam Caplan, contains $3.5 million guaranteed and another $4 million in possible incentives, leading to a total potential value of $7.5 million. This is a rather large jump for the former Ravens, Broncos, and most recently Jets QB, who made only $1.5 million backing up Sam Darnold in New York last season. He only made 4 starts, and went 0-4 in those games with a 6-3 TD to INT ratio, so the stat line certainly begs the question: how in the world did his value more than double in his Eagles contract? To that question, I say, I have absolutely no idea. There is no reason that I can think of that a 36 year old backup whose last full season as a starter was 2017 in Baltimore deserved a doubling of his salary. In fact, it seems almost negligent for a team so pressed for cap space to spend $3.5 mil on a player who may just hold a clipboard and do a little mentoring of Jalen Hurts. Which is exactly why this deal is perfect for the 2021 Philadelphia Eagles.
Let’s be realistic about the team’s expectations this year. They were a 4 win (and 1 tie) football team last year, and they have not improved at any position besides maybe safety with the addition of Anthony Harris from the Vikings. The defensive secondary is a disaster waiting to happen that is currently being dressed up by two great players in Harris and Darius Slay. The linebacker corps has still not received capable reinforcements. The defensive line is expensive and aging. The same can be said for the trenches on the offensive side of the ball, with numerous starters dealing with compounding injuries. The wide receivers are either unproven or proven to not belong. You’re losing the best tight end in franchise history. The running backs have potential but each have flaws. The quarterbacks room is bare save for Flacco and Hurts, the latter of which has only 4 career games played. They are not a good football team, and they do not have the cap space to pay to become one. Every beneficial piece they bring in via free agency is counterproductive to what should be the plan for the 2021-22 season: gathering young assets and improving draft position to rebuild an aging and broken roster.
In other words, I don’t believe the Eagles should be trying to compete this year. Not because I want to see the Eagles lose – I’ve always been a diehard fan and it kills me having Sunday after Sunday ruined by awful football – but because the zone of 6-8 wins in the NFL is football purgatory. It’s an area previously occupied by franchises like the Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions; teams not good enough to make playoff noise, but not bad enough to get to the top prospects of the draft. That win zone is where 1-2 year rebuilds turn into 5-7 years of mediocrity, and the Eagles should be doing everything in their power to avoid being in that category. So how does Flacco fit into this theory? Well, he’s a guy who was a Super Bowl MVP and a starter for numerous years that can potentially help Hurts develop if the team does decide he’s their franchise guy. Improving a young asset? Check. Does he actually contribute wins to your football team in any way? Probably not. Check. Does his deal only affect the cap for this season, freeing you up next year to spend next year in free agency if the rebuild moves at warp speed? Check. With the Eagles available cap space and remaining free agents available, it would be a Sisyphean feat for the team to compete for the playoffs this year regardless of who they sign. So using that cap on a player that will not push you into that purgatory zone, but will also spare some wisdom for your young QB you’re desperately hoping develops? There should be absolutely no problem with that whatsoever.
Welcome home, Joe. We hope you’re elite, even if it is just as a mentor.