PHILADELPHIA — The Eagles changed the look of their quarterback room by acquiring Gardner Minshew II from the Jacksonville Jaguars for a conditional sixth-round pick Saturday — and we’re not just talking about the mustache.
Does the move made by the Eagles reflect any sort of statement on second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts, who was the projected starter for Week 1 when the Eagles play at the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 12? And where does Minshew fit on the depth chart? Let’s take a closer look at what the trade means:
Why did the Eagles go through with the trade?
Philadelphia is well known for pouring resources into the quarterback position, even when the top of the Eagles’ depth chart appears set. It worked out beautifully in 2017 when backup Nick Foles helped deliver the city’s first Super Bowl title, and not as much when the selection of Hurts in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft put further strain on the relationship between Carson Wentz and the organization.
The Minshew move is low risk. The compensation — a sixth-round pick that could rise to a fifth-rounder if Minshew is involved in 50% of the plays in three games this season, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter — is about what the Eagles would spend on a developmental quarterback. Instead, they get a quarterback with 20 NFL starts who can play in a pinch if called upon, which is particularly valuable in a COVID-19 world in which players can be sidelined with little notice.
Minshew has two years remaining on his rookie contract and is set to earn a reasonable $850,000 this season.
Former San Francisco 49ers signal-caller Nick Mullens, who was released Saturday, didn’t have a strong enough preseason for Philadelphia to feel comfortable relying on him. So it went with a more proven player in Minshew, who has completed 63% of his throws with 37 touchdowns to 11 interceptions over two seasons.
Does this move have anything to do with Hurts?
Yes and no.
It is not a reflection on how he has performed this summer. Hurts has taken the reins both as the facilitator of the offense and as a team leader, just as the Eagles had hoped he would. He showed steady progress as training camp went along and solidified his spot as the starting quarterback.
But Hurts, 23, has four career starts under his belt. While he has instilled hope in his teammates that he can be highly effective at the pro level, it still needs to play out on the field.
The Eagles now have two experienced QBs behind him in the 36-year-old Flacco, who has 175 starts in the league, and the 25-year-old Minshew. Both players will serve as a double insurance policy should Hurts get injured or falter.
So where does Minshew land on the Eagles’ depth chart?
He enters as the No. 3 quarterback behind Hurts and Flacco.
Could that change?
Sure, Eagles coach Nick Sirianni stresses competition, and they don’t want to put a ceiling on him, but that’s the pecking order they’re envisioning for now. Flacco has been solid this summer. The Minshew trade does not appear to be a response to any performance issues for the 14-year veteran.
Let’s talk trade risk. What’s that look like for Philly?
The biggest concern is how Minshew’s presence will play with Hurts and Flacco. The chemistry among the quarterbacks has seemed pretty good this preseason. There’s a chance adding Minshew could disrupt that.
One of the big lessons learned from the Eagles’ 2020 season is that the comfort of QB1 needs to be strongly considered when building the room out. Communication is key and there needs to be a well-established hierarchy. Minshew’s addition is only positive if Hurts and Flacco aren’t negatively affected by it.
From what we know about Hurts to this point, he’s not easily rattled and is good at not allowing outside forces to impact his mindset or his process. It would likely take more than adding Minshew as a third-stringer to knock him off his game.