JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars have agreed to trade quarterback Nick Foles to the Chicago Bears just one year after giving him the most guaranteed money in franchise history, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Wednesday.
The Bears are giving up their compensatory fourth-round pick (No. 140 overall), which now gives the Jaguars 12 picks in the upcoming draft.
The move means the Jaguars will have to absorb $18.75 million in dead money in 2020, so in the past two seasons the Jaguars will have paid $35.25 million in dead money for quarterbacks that were not on their roster. The Jaguars cut Blake Bortles after agreeing to terms with Foles and paid $16.5 million in dead money last season.
Trading Foles means the Jaguars are going with second-year player Gardner Minshew as their starter, unless they plan to use their stockpile of draft picks to move up in the first round to draft a quarterback.
This is just the latest twist in a twisting, emotional career for Foles since Philadelphia drafted him in the third round in 2012. He started six games as a rookie in place of an injured Mike Vick and came in to replace Vick again in 2013, throwing 27 touchdown passes and only two interceptions in 13 starts. He led the Eagles to the playoffs, went to the Pro Bowl, and won the game’s Offensive MVP award.
Foles was the Eagles’ unquestioned starter in 2014 but suffered a broken collarbone in a Week 9 victory over Houston and finished the season on injured reserve. Coach Chip Kelly surprisingly traded him in the offseason to St. Louis for quarterback Sam Bradford, who ran a similar up-tempo offense in college at Oklahoma. Foles struggled with the Rams, throwing seven TD passes and 10 interceptions before being benched for Case Keenum.
Foles has said multiple times that he considered retiring after the 2015 season because he had lost his love of the game. He agreed to sign with Kansas City as the backup to Alex Smith, mainly because he would be reunited with coach Andy Reid. Reid was the head coach in Philadelphia and drafted Foles in the third round in 2012.
Foles re-gained his love the game, went back to Philly as a backup QB, and ended up coming off the bench in place of an injured Carson Wentz to start the final three games of the 2017 season. He threw for 971 yards and six touchdowns with one interception in three playoff games, including 373 yards and three touchdowns with one interception in a Super Bowl LII victory over New England. He was named the game’s MVP.
Foles again backed up a healthy Wentz in 2018 but was again pressed into service when Wentz suffered a back injury. Foles started the final five games of the regular season and two more in the postseason, which ended with the Eagles’ divisional round loss to New Orleans.
Foles bought out his contract with Philadelphia for $2 million in February 2019 and the Jaguars signed him to a four-year, $91 million contract with $50.125 million guaranteed. Owner Shad Khan said the team had been eyeing Foles since the 2018 season ended said their dream was to sign the former Super Bowl MVP.
Foles was impressive during the offseason and training camp but played minimally in the preseason as part of coach Doug Marrone’s effort to keep key players healthy. He played well early in the season opener against Kansas City but suffered a broken collarbone on the 11th offensive snap when he was driven into the turf by defensive tackle Chris Jones while throwing a touchdown pass to DJ Chark.
Foles missed the next eight games and rookie sixth-round pick Gardner Minshew captured the nation with his run-around style of play, mustache, headband and jorts. The Jaguars went 4-4 with Minshew as the starter, but he struggled badly in the team’s 26-3 loss to Houston in London and coach Doug Marrone opted to go back to Foles, who had been cleared to play.
Foles didn’t play well in his return. The Jaguars managed just 13 points in a 20-point loss at Indianapolis and scored only three points in the first half of their next two games (at Tennessee and against Tampa Bay). Foles was particularly bad against the Bucs, turning the ball over on the Jaguars’ first three drives — the first QB to do that since Chicago’s Mike Glennon in 2017 — and posting three consecutive three-and-outs after those turnovers.
Marrone benched him for Minshew at halftime of the Bucs game and Minshew finished the season as the starter. He had the best passer rating (91.2) and fewest interceptions (six) among rookie quarterbacks and only Daniel Jones (24) threw more touchdown passes (21).
Foles said after the season that he didn’t know what his future would hold but he wasn’t considering retiring.
“I know people will go there. It took me several months of sort of going through an eval, trying to figure out what I wanted to do until I had a moment where I prayed about what I needed to do and it was ultimately getting back in football, facing my fear,” Foles said. “Fortunately, the good Lord’s allowed me to go through that before, so I pulled from my St. Louis year this year different things that I did, and the one thing I know is I look forward to whatever happens, continuing to grow as a human being, player, excelling and ultimately and coming out slinging.
“I know I can still play. There’s people out there that believe in me and I know what I can do, I’ve shown what I can do, so I look forward to what the future holds. Obviously getting away, refreshing myself, getting ready to roll. I’ll be ready to fire away.”
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