- Two of the biggest quarterback mysteries of the 2019 offseason appear to be solved, with Nick Foles reportedly set to join the Jacksonville Jaguars at the start of free agency, and Kyler Murray widely rumored to be heading to the Arizona Cardinals with the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft.
- Should both reports come to fruition, it would set the rest of the first round of the draft up for plenty of intrigue, pitting teams in need of a quarterback against one another in a poker match of which franchise is willing to trade up.
- With the incoming draft class loaded with defensive talent, teams near the top, like the New York Jets and the San Francisco 49ers, might be willing to trade down and benefit in the long run.
Two of the biggest mysteries of the 2019 NFL offseason are rumored to be solved.
First, Les Bowen of Philly.com reported that Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback Nick Foles would sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars when free agency opens on March 13.
The Eagles had the chance to use the franchise tag on Foles and keep him on a one-year, $25 million deal with the hopes of trading him away for value. But they instead opted to let their former Super Bowl MVP walk and choose his destination.
While nothing is set in stone yet, Jacksonville is a sensible destination for Foles – the Jaguars have a team built to win but held back by inconsistent play at quarterback by Blake Bortles. After a run to the AFC Championship in the 2018 postseason, the Jaguars won just five games last year.
In Foles, they would get a quarterback who has already proved capable of succeeding in the playoffs and, importantly, beating Tom Brady.
Foles is the biggest name on the quarterback-free-agency market, and it’s possible the biggest name in the NFL draft has also already found his home.
According to Tony Pauline, an NFL draft analyst, Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury has been telling people that selecting Kyler Murray with the first overall pick in April’s draft is a “done deal.”
Kingsbury said he’d take the Heisman-winning quarterback with the first overall pick if he could, even before he became an NFL head coach in January.
If Murray does wind up going to Arizona with the first pick, it would leave the teams below with some interesting decisions to make about how they want to play their hand in the first round of the NFL draft.
Picking behind the Cardinals are two teams that do not need a quarterback and are likely open to trading down: the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Jets.
Just behind them are the Oakland Raiders, who have stood behind quarterback Derek Carr in public but, with three first-round draft picks, have the most leverage of any team should they decide they want to make a move for their player.
And just behind them are two teams seen as in the market for a quarterback: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5) and the New York Giants (6).
This leaves us with quite the poker match.
The 49ers and the Jets are in an enviable position near the top of the board. Should the Buccaneers or the Giants decide they’ve found their man, trading up into the top three may be the only way to ensure they get him. With the draft’s deep pool of defensive talent, chances are either team could still find a player high on its list a few spots back.
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Should the Cardinals take Murray at the top of the draft, San Francisco has an opportunity to pick edge rusher Nick Bosa, widely regarded as the best available player of the 2019 class, to keep Bosa for themselves or entice teams into a trade, making their second pick even more valuable.
If Bosa goes second, the Jets’ pick, at No. 3, suddenly becomes the top spot for quarterback-needy teams to trade up to. Beyond the Giants and the Buccaneers, the Miami Dolphins, the Washington Redskins, and possibly the New England Patriots could be teams to watch as the draft approaches – depending on how the first two picks shake out, any one of them could decide to pull the trigger and secure their pick of the incoming quarterback draft class.
There is almost no chance that this year’s draft will match last year’s mark of five quarterbacks taken in the first round. But with names like Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Daniel Jones, and Drew Lock available and plenty of teams still in need of a trustworthy signal caller, there is still plenty of intrigue to follow at the top of the board.
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