The Jacksonville Jaguars had to know that there was no going back if they benched Nick Foles. That’s why the team waited until it was in a 25-0 hole against the Buccaneers to finally hand the reins to sixth-round rookie Gardner Minshew.
Foles was given a four-year, $88 million contract from the team in March. Sending him to the bench became the Jaguars’ only option, though.
Signing Foles was a mistake. Starting him in Week 11 upon his return from a shoulder injury was a mistake. Continuing to let him play while Minshew sat on the bench was a mistake.
The Foles era is likely over in Jacksonville after only 117 pass attempts. The Jaguars lost by 20 to the Colts and 22 to the Titans in his first two starts, but the final straw was a disastrous first half in Week 13 against the Buccaneers. Foles started the game by throwing a horrible interception in the middle of the field.
Foles fumbled on the next two drives, and the Jaguars went three-and-out on the next three drives after that. His day came to merciful end at halftime with the Buccaneers leading 25-0. Minshew took over in the second half and will presumably be the Jaguars’ starter for the remainder of 2019 and beyond.
What do the Jaguars do with Nick Foles now?
In hindsight, the Jaguars would’ve been way better off sticking with Minshew in November. The team was in the middle of the playoff race, but those hopes disappeared with Foles at the helm.
Even if Minshew wasn’t able to lead the team to wins against the Colts and Titans, there’s another reason it would’ve been a good idea to keep Foles on the bench. By playing him, the Jaguars destroyed Foles’ trade value.
There are plenty of teams that’ll be in the market for a veteran starter in the 2020 offseason, and Foles could’ve made for an affordable option — especially with the Jaguars eating a significant portion of the guaranteed portion of the contract.
Does any team want the version of Foles who was completely ineffective in Jacksonville? Foles could’ve reached the offseason with one memorable moment in a Jaguars uniform: A 35-yard touchdown pass in Week 1 that resulted in a broken clavicle.
Now the Foles’ era in Jacksonville will be remembered as a catastrophe.
Foles may still be tradable, but he’s a problem that’ll be hard to get rid of now. Releasing Foles wouldn’t save money. Instead of a $22.125 cap hit, cutting Foles would balloon his anchor on the salary cap to $33.875 million. The best course of action for the Jaguars may be giving up draft capital in a trade just to get rid of the contract — similar to what the Texans did with Brock Osweiler and the Rams did with Aqib Talib.
Nick Foles probably cost everyone in Jacksonville their job
The coaching staff and front office in Jacksonville were on thin ice already. The Jaguars won the AFC South in 2017 and went to the AFC Championship Game, but followed that campaign by going 5-11 in 2018.
Quarterback Blake Bortles was released a year after receiving a $54 million extension. The 2019 season started with star cornerback Jalen Ramsey demanding a trade out of town.
The Jaguars’ brief Super Bowl window slammed shut and the team is back to being a disaster. Foles was supposed to get Jacksonville back on track, but that signing has set the team back further. The blame falls on everybody’s shoulders, and it’s hard to imagine coach Doug Marrone, general manager Dave Caldwell, or vice president Tom Coughlin being allowed to continue influencing the franchise’s future.
The good news is that the Jaguars may have accidentally stumbled into a star with Minshew. They have a bevy of draft picks thanks to the Ramsey trade, and there are promising young players on both lines — including the pass-rushing duo of Yannick Ngakoue and Josh Allen. All those pieces will probably be somebody else’s responsibility after the brief Foles era exploded in Jacksonville’s face.