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Explaining Nick Foles' contract, trade possibilities

Eliot Shorr-Parks
February 04, 2019 - 7:38 am

The relationship between Nick Foles and the Eagles is likely coming to an end — and it is going to be a complicated one. 

Over the weekend, ESPN reported that the Eagles are going to try to trade Foles, a decision that could net the team a third-round pick in return. 

Actually pulling off the trade, however, is not going to easy. 

Here is an in-depth look at Foles’ current contract, the complicated mutual option, the potential of a the franchise tag and what needs to happen for a trade to happen:

The Mutual option:

*** Foles and the Eagles have a mutual option for the 2019 season. The mutual option, if agreed on by both sides, will pay Foles $20 million. If either side does not pick up the option, Foles becomes a free agent. 

*** Eagles must decide and inform Foles if they are picking up his mutual option 30 days before the new league year (February 10). 

*** If the Eagles do pick up Foles’ mutual option, he has five days to inform the Eagles if he is picking up his end of the option. If he agrees, he is then under contract for 2019. 

*** An important note: The full $20 million Foles would be owed in 2019 does not become guaranteed until five days into the next league year (March 18th). That means if Foles picks up the option, the Eagles could still cut him up until March 18th and free up $20 million in salary cap space. 

*** If Foles decides to not pick up his option, the most likely outcome, he would then owe the Eagles $2 million to buy his way back into free agency. Once he informed the Eagles he was not picking up the option, and paid them, he would be a free agent. 

One reason Foles could agree to the mutual option is if he doesn’t feel he will get more than $22 million ($20 million base salary for 2019 plus not having to pay the Eagles $2 million) in free agency. If he feels he will get more than that, he won’t pick it up, and then the Eagles will have to decide if they want to franchise tag him. 

The Franchise Tag

Assuming Foles and the Eagles do not pick up the mutual option, the Eagles next option to try to trade Foles would be to franchise tag him. The deadline for placing a franchise tag on a player is March 5. Although the franchise tag numbers are not yet known, the number for a quarterback is expected to be around $25 million. 

If the Eagles place the franchise tag on Foles, he would then have to sign it to be traded. If Foles does not sign the tag, the Eagles would not be able to trade him.  The risk for the Eagles in placing the franchise tag on Foles would be if he signs it, the money is then fully guaranteed. So if Foles signed it, and then the Eagles couldn’t find a team willing to trade for him, they would then be stuck with him on the roster in 2019 for $25 million. 

The Trade

The Eagles can’t trade Foles until the new league year begins on March 13th at 4 p.m. They can negotiate a deal with a team under the table, and execute that trade as soon as the new league year begins, but they can’t officially trade Foles until March 13th. The Eagles also have to be under the salary cap by March 13th — which means if they want to trade Foles, they have to both have him under contract and be under the salary cap when the new league year begins. 

Making that happen could be complicated. The Eagles are currently around $8 million over the salary cap, with Foles on the books for $20 million (the mutual option). That means if Foles and the team agree to the mutual option, the Eagles would have to shed around $8 million in salary cap space to trade Foles once the new league year begins. If they trade Foles for a draft pick, they would then get that $20 million in salary cap space to sign free agents. If the Eagles have to franchise tag Foles to trade him, and he signs it, the Eagles would need to clear $13 million-or-so to trade him. 


Trading Foles is going to be complicated, but not impossible. The Eagles have the ability to fairly easily cut enough cap space to be under the salary cap in time to trade Foles (even if he is franchise tagged). If the Eagles know they have a trade in place, they will franchise Foles and move him when the new league year begins. Without an agreed upon trade, however, placing the franchise tag on Foles is way too risky. 

You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at!