Matt Nagy understands the chatter.
He sees why, every time an NFL team has a sudden need at quarterback, speculation turns to the Bears trading third-stringer Nick Foles.
“Absolutely,” Nagy said Saturday. “You’re talking about a Super Bowl MVP and a guy that’s started a lot of games. He’s had a really interesting career in so many ways that I just think that he deserves that.
“I mean, anybody that’s had the career he has is somebody that’s always going to be – for all teams, as a third string guy – teams are going to look at guys like him.”
As a third-string quarterback, Foles is wildly over-qualified. On a team with Andy Dalton as the starter and Justin Fields as the future, he’s redundant. He also carries a $6.6 million salary cap number this year and is more expensive for the Bears to cut than to keep. He’s owed $4 million in guarantees this year and $1 million in 2022.
That’s made him, to this point, hard for the Bears to trade. They’ve tried, and figure to again, depending on preseason quarterback injuries across the league. An obvious target emerged Friday, when the Colts said Carson Wentz hurt his foot and would be out indefinitely. Frank Reich, their head coach, was Foles’ offensive coordinator on the Eagles’ Super Bowl-winning team.
The Colts made a move Saturday, but it wasn’t to trade for Foles. They signed former Packers and Cardinals quarterback Brett Hundley, who has attempted only 11 passes since the end of 2017.
Nagy said he and Foles have never discussed any potential trade chatter.
“I don’t talk to him about that, he doesn’t talk to me about it,” he said. “We’re not, that’s not something we, we just don’t go there. Because, again, that’s out of our control.
“He’s worrying about doing everything he can to just be great for us — and that’s what I like about our relationship. He’s not, he’s happy with where he’s at here, and he’s in a good place.”
Nagy has been pleased with what’s in Foles’ control: how he handled his offseason demotion. Just one year after the Bears sent the Jaguars a fourth-round pick and got Foles to restructure his contract, they signed free agent Andy Dalton to a one-year deal in March. About six weeks later, they traded up to draft Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.
“I would say probably 95% of people in his situation would handle it completely opposite of the way he’s handled it, from the time that I brought him in and told him that he was gonna be the third-string quarterback,” Nagy said. “And I have to give so much credit to him because he accepted it. He understood it. Was he happy about it? No. But he understood it.”
Foles still arrives at Halas Hall around dawn for workouts. He does conditioning after practice, too.
“He told me that right now, he’s in the best shape physically and mentally that he’s been in his career,” Nagy said. “Honestly, that was shocking to me, because you never know where a guy’s gonna come into the summer or after the summer, and he’s done everything in his power. It’s been really neat and he’s been great for Justin and Andy.”
During training camp, it’s been strange to see someone with Foles’ pedigree playing alongside third-stringers who might not to have jobs in six weeks. Foles can correct their mistakes, though, and has looked solid playing against overmatched backup defenses.
“It’s a lot different to have Nick Foles as your third-string quarterback in practice or in a preseason game than it is to have a lot of these rookies or free-agent guys that come in their first year …” Nagy said. “Every rep he gets — which isn’t a lot — but every rep he gets, he acts like he’s the first-string quarterback.”
Time will tell if anyone else in the league sees him as a potential second-stringer on their own team.
“For us, we feel like with Andy, Justin and Nick, our quarterback room right now is pretty good,” Nagy said. “And you need to have a quarterback in this league to win games.”
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