Imagine a Browns team with their franchise QB, a Browns team without Johnny Manziel, Josh Gordon and Brian Hoyer. That franchise QB would have been Eagles QB Nick Foles and it was a heck of a lot closer to happening than anyone had previously thought possible according to a report from ESPN’s Phil Sheridan. At the time it was a badly kept secret that then Browns CEO Joe Banner was trying to shop troubled WR Josh Gordon and he turned to his (Banner’s) former team, the Philadelphia Eagles and started to negotiate. His asking price, QB Nick Foles. At the time, Foles had come off an up and down season rookie season where he started 6 games and threw 6 TDs and 5 INTs. When the trade was supposed to be going down, Foles had lost the battle for the starting job to Michael Vick. Gordon was coming off a more promising rookie season with 805 yards and 5 TDs. At the time, Philadelphia had just lost starting WR Jeremy Maclin to an ACL tear and trading for Gordon would have meant they had a nice compliment to DeSean Jackson in the passing game and the Eagles had just drafted QB Matt Barkley in that year’s draft.
Foles in a game vs. the Raiders where threw 7 TDs, tying an NFL record
In the end, Chip Kelly decided to pass on Gordon due to the potential of further suspension (unfortunately he was right) and because the Eagles staff were high on Foles as a long term replacement to Vick. The Eagles also felt cautious about Vick’s potential to stay healthy for the entire season and were hesitant to bring another troublesome character into a locker room that had a divisive figure in DeSean Jackson. In the end the Eagles were justified to avoid taking on Gordon despite Gordon going onto have a league best 1646 yards with Foles having an impressive season himself throwing 27 TDs to 2 INTs after Vick went down.
More reading: Phil Sheridan’s original report for ESPN
Another interesting hypothetical that came out of this report is imagining where the Browns would be now if the trade had to go ahead. Foles almost certainly would started with Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell being the backups which would have left Brian Hoyer as the 4th stringer and almost definitely meant he would have been cut. Also, there most definitely no Johnny Manziel in Cleveland and with the Browns lacking any clear no.1 wide out they probably stick with Sammy Watkins rather than trading that pick to the Bills. That’s assuming the Browns are still in the same place in the draft and don’t make any improvement despite the upgrade in QB. Finally and maybe best of all it means I wouldn’t have had to watch Brandon Weeden as the Browns staring quarterback.