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Reacting to the Bengals being a landing spot for Nick Foles

One Pro Football Talk report speculated Cincinnati as a possible landing spot for quarterback Nick Foles, if he becomes a free agent in 2019.

Divisional Round - Philadelphia Eagles v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

This is one of those postings that may only interest me — AKA, I’m thinking about something and I answer it via a Chop Block post. There’s very little insight, story structure, or analysis here; just answering random musings from the couch during a stormy Cincinnati afternoon. There might not even be a conclusion; I’ll just stop when I’m finished.

There’s a reason Cincinnati is mentioned as a possible landing spot for Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.

Maybe several.

It’s an interesting proposal, to be sure.

One prominent (and obvious) connection is Philadelphia’s quarterbacks coach being Press Taylor; the younger brother to he-who-shall-not-be-named-yet Bengals head coach Zac Taylor. There are several assumptions being made here: 1) Will Zac Taylor bring Press to Cincinnati as an assistant — we haven’t heard if current quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt will stick around yet, and you probably won’t until the staff is announced — and 2) Will the Eagles allow him out of his contract, assuming he’s signed beyond 2018?

Press Taylor, an Eagles assistant since 2013, has been coaching Philadelphia quarterbacks since 2016 — as an assistant in 2016-17, and as their quarterbacks coach last season. Since 2016, Foles (who re-joined the Eagles in 2017) and Carson Wentz have combined for a 64.3% completion rate, 82 touchdowns, 34 interceptions, and a 92.11 passer rating. Not bad. Taylor famously brought trick plays to the attention of head coach Doug Peterson, including one that materialized into the Philly Special — the Super Bowl trick play that ended with a Foles touchdown reception.

Would Foles come to Cincinnati if he-who-shall-not-be-named-yet Bengals head coach Zac Taylor adds his younger brother to his staff? Anything is possible. However, it doesn’t seem like a precursor either — does Foles feel strongly about Press Taylor to make Cincinnati a more likely landing spot? Familiarity is important when moving to a new team — but how important is that to Foles?

There are other factors:

The Eagle may exercise his third-year option. When Foles returned to Philadelphia, he signed a two-year deal with a team-option for a third. If the Eagles pull the trigger on the third-year option, they owe him $20 million. Considering quarterback Carson Wentz carries durability concerns (missed eight games in two seasons) and playing on an extremely cheap rookie contract ($4 million) for a quarterback, why wouldn’t Philadelphia exercise Foles’ option?

Foles, a Super Bowl winning quarterback, will make money in 2019. When the Eagles suffered an overtime loss to Dallas last December, Philadelphia fell to 6-7 and their playoff hopes appeared bleak. Another Wentz injury brought Foles back into the spotlight, and he helped the 6-7 Eagles squad win three straight, including wins over the Los Angeles Rams and Houston Texans. They made the playoffs and eliminated the Chicago Bears in the first round. New Orleans bounced them out despite taking a 14-0 first quarter lead.

There is a clause allowing Foles to exercise a $2 million buyout making him a free agent — the Eagles could counter with the franchise tag worth $25 million. It might be a while before there’s any certainty in this storyline.

What is certain is that if hits free agency, he will be coveted by teams with shakey quarterback situations.

Then there’s Andy Dalton.

During the Marvin Lewis era, it was rare for a player to feel threatened. It was almost like a Supreme Court appointment — if you earned a starting job in Cincinnati, you had job security until your contract expired. Mid-season (or mid-game) replacements were rare, and mostly occurred on the offensive line.

We’re not sure how someone like he-who-shall-not-be-named-yet Bengals head coach Zac Taylor will react to poor production.

Even so, Andy Dalton isn’t a poor quarterback by any means; he’s a productive general that requires the best supporting staff. This could be viewed as a knock against him. Dalton doesn’t have the ability to make those around him better. The irony is that this defines most quarterbacks in the NFL; few quarterbacks in the NFL have that ability.

That being said, I hope this new era of Bengals football injects more sensible roster-building— not the close-minded Marvin Lewis or Mike Brown, who causes liability issues out of his amazing sense of loyalty.

If Foles is available and Cincinnati believes he can push the Bengals further than Dalton has (who is better in the postseason), pull the trigger. Money is available and Dalton’s contract includes zero dead money. If a franchise-level quarterback is available in the 2019 NFL draft, grab him and let Dalton’s contract expire while preparing his replacement — something Dalton’s character would surely allow.

Either way... if the Bengals have changed, and I mean truly changed, then there needs to be a “best 53” approach. If you produce, you’re in. If there are questions, then you’ll have to fight for it... even the quarterback. This wasn’t an objective during the Lewis era.

Hopefully it is now.