Evaluating the Philadelphia Eagles' options at backup QB, including Colin Kaepernick
A prudent approach to their quarterback situation following Nate Sudfeld’s broken wrist suffered on Thursday night is the recommended plan of action for the Philadelphia Eagles.
After all, they have three other healthy arms in starter Carson Wentz and reserves Cody Kessler and Clayton Thorson, and coach Doug Pederson said after Thursday night’s preseason opener that the team is just “going to continue with who we have.”
No need to rush out and sign another quarterback off the street, because there’s nobody out there so valuable they have to worry about being beaten to the punch.
And that includes Colin Kaepernick, easily the most talented and accomplished of the bunch, who would need to shake off the rust from more than two years of inactivity and would bring a media barrage to their quaint NovaCare Complex that would make what happened with Michael Vick in 2009 seem like small potatoes.
On the other hand, having a fourth arm in camp would help with the coach’s plan to limit the pitch counts they had planned for all their quarterbacks, especially Wentz, in the preseason to get him best prepared for the regular season.
"We still have a plan with not just him, but with all of our guys and all of our starters,” Pederson said. “We don’t play the Washington Redskins for a few more weeks, so the goal is to get ready for that. But I have to evaluate these guys in the next couple of weeks and see if they need to play in some of these games and make decisions that way. You have to be smart with it and give them enough work. They are getting great work in practice, which has been very pleasing to me, and we are going to continue down that path.”
If Pederson and his staff and general manager Howie Roseman feel the need after stepping back and digesting all this to add a quarterback, then they can do it. But there should be no rush in light of a fairly optimistic report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Sudfeld is expected back in six weeks.
In the meantime, here’s how we rank the top candidates, from first to worst.
1. Colin Kaepernick: Dynamic athlete with solid lifetime passing numbers (59.8 completion percentage, 72 TDs, 30 interceptions) and Super Bowl experience. Obviously the team would need to brace for a firestorm, based on Kaepernick’s having become the poster child for the league’s national anthem protests, which are no longer much of an issue. The baggage he’d bring would have to weigh in the decision, but in terms of talent, nobody else out there is even close.
This week he told the world he’s ready by tweeting a video of him working out with the message, “5am. 5 days a week. For 3 years. Still ready.”
But how long will it take him to be ready to play? Kaepernick hasn’t played since New Year’s Day, 2017. He not only has to learn the offense but also get in football shape. Can’t do that in a gym. What’s more, the Associated Press reported he wanted $20 million to play in the AAF. Not that he’d demand that from the Eagles, but they aren’t going to break the bank for him, especially given that Sudfeld should return before midseason.
2. Josh McCown: He’s 40 years old and recently retired. He has never had a winning record but has had some decent passing numbers, including as recently as 2017, when he completed 67 percent of his attempts for a bad Jets squad and threw twice as many touchdowns (18) as interceptions.
Plus, after all those years in the league, there’s no defensive look he hasn’t seen and probably no offensive system that he would have trouble picking up.
3. Matt Cassel: Another aging veteran (37) whose best days are behind him, Cassel nevertheless has had big seasons with two teams in a strange career. As good as he was with the Patriots in 2008 after Tom Brady wrecked his knee, he was even better two years later with the Chiefs. That’s when he threw 27 touchdowns against just seven interceptions and had a 10-5 record.
4. Sam Bradford: Yes, the former Eagle is out of football and was totally overrated while he was in the game. But wouldn’t you just once love to see him operate behind a line like the Eagles have now and throw to the weapons this team has assembled? He actually had that situation once, with the Vikings in 2016, until they started losing one lineman after another and finished 7-8. Still. Bradford led the league with a 71.6 completion percentage and threw 20 TDs against just five interceptions. Not too shabby.
5. Brock Osweiler: He showed promise early in his career but then deteriorated. Still only 28 years old, though. If anybody can turn him into a serviceable quarterback, we’re thinking Pederson and his staff and the quarterbacks in their room can.