The Jaguars got a grand total of 11 quarters out of Nick Foles, their prized free agent signing of 2019. Now the Super Bowl 52 MVP is headed to the Windy City and the Jaguars are getting a fourth-round pick in return.
Jacksonville wanted out of the four-year, $88 million deal it gave Foles last spring and it found a buyer in the Chicago Bears. An injury cost Foles the majority of his first and only season with the team. In his absence, sixth-round rookie Gardner Minshew shined. Foles returned to the starting lineup when he came off injured reserve, but he was benched in his third game back and never saw the field again.
So what does the trade mean for the Bears and Jaguars?
The Bears are eying a Super Bowl run
Chicago has to feel like it’s squandering an opportunity to win a championship.
It had the No. 1 defense in the NFL in 2018 and finished 12-4. But then the Bears couldn’t even get through Wild Card Weekend, losing to the Foles-led Eagles in the playoffs. Chicago went 8-8 in the 2019 season, despite having a defense that was still top five in points allowed.
Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears’ underachieving offense have held the team back. Chicago finished 29th in points scored in 2019 and Trubisky was 28th in passer rating among starting quarterbacks. That’s nothing new: The Bears have been slowed by quarterback play for much of the franchise’s history.
Bears Starting QBs— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) March 18, 2020
Super Bowl Era:
Pass YPG 173.3 Last
Pass Yds/Att 6.5 Last
Pass TD/Game 1.0 Last
TD-INT Ratio 0.93 Last
Passer Rating 71.9 Last
The Bears traded up to pick Trubisky second overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, but patience with him is running thin. There’s not much reason to be optimistic he’ll develop into a franchise quarterback, even if Chicago head coach Matt Nagy has said publicly that Trubisky will be the team’s starter in 2020.
Chicago needs better play at the quarterback position and there’s a chance Foles could be the answer. There’s no guarantee Foles will beat out Trubisky for the starting job, but if the Bears get the Philadelphia version of Foles, he’d be a huge boost.
In 32 regular season starts with the Eagles, Foles led the team to a 21-11 record with 58 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. No stretch was more important than his miraculous playoff run in 2018, though. Foles completed 72.6 percent of his passes in three wins with six touchdowns and zero interceptions. A masterful performance in a Super Bowl win over the Patriots earned him MVP honors.
There are other reasons to be concerned too. Foles suffered a broken collarbone for the second time since 2014 and he’ll be behind an offensive line that struggled in 2019. According to Pro Football Focus, the average time for a pressure allowed by the Bears offensive line was just 2.37 seconds — 29th in the NFL.
If the trade works out for the Bears, they’ll have a veteran who pushes the offense forward and turns Chicago back into a contender. There’s a bit of familiarity between Nagy and Foles too. During Foles’ one season with the Chiefs in 2016, Nagy was the team’s offensive coordinator. That could prove useful if coronavirus concerns shorten the amount of time players work with coaches in the offseason.
And while the Jaguars were saddled with a bad contract, the Bears aren’t paying that much for Foles.
Nick Foles already has restructred his contract with the Bears, per source. He still has three years left, still has $21 million guaranteed left, but Foles now has the ability to void the deal after either of the first two years depending on his performance. Deal includes upside.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 18, 2020
If the deal doesn’t work out, the Bears’ Super Bowl window could slam shut.
The Jaguars are starting fresh
There’s plenty of bad news for Jacksonville. It will eat an $18.75 million cap hit for Foles in 2020, bringing his total amount of money to $30.5 million for appearances in just four games. He never even played in the second half of a game at TIAA Bank Field.
But that was a 2019 mistake. The Jaguars hoped they could get another team to take on the contract and they did that. Landing a fourth-round pick to offload the deal is a gigantic win for Jacksonville, even if it has to sit on some dead space in 2020.
For now, it’s the Minshew show. He finished his rookie year with 21 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He also went through some struggles, though. Minshew fumbled 13 times and had three starts with a completion percentage below 50.
There’s a possibility the Jaguars will bring in a veteran to compete for the starting role. But the likelier scenario is that the team will give Minshew the 2020 season to prove he can be the long-term starter at the position.
The Jaguars are in a full-scale rebuild, which was made abundantly clear by the trade that sent Calais Campbell to the Ravens. After shipping off Foles to Chicago, the Jaguars now have 12 picks in the 2020 NFL Draft.
It’s time for a restart in Jacksonville and trading Foles purged another bad contract from the team’s books.