That was my first thought when I heard the Eagles traded a late-round pick in 2022 to acquire Gardner Minshew from Jacksonville on Saturday morning.
The Eagles traded away a conditional sixth-round pick to get Minshew, an obvious upgrade as their third-string quarterback in 2021 and an extremely cheap and adequate backup option in 2022. The most this trade will cost Howie Roseman and the Eagles is a fifth-round pick. Low risk, high reward.
It’s obvious that the Eagles value the quarterback position, even more than most teams in a QB driven league, and they just got a pretty decent one with experience for a Day 3 pick. To me, it’s a no-brainer.
Here are five thoughts about the move:
1. The most obvious takeaway from this trade is the Eagles just got a clear upgrade in their quarterback room. Nick Mullens got off to a hot start in training camp but plummeted and was awful in the preseason. Minshew is clearly better than Mullens. With 20 career starts under his belt, Minshew has completed 62.9% of his passes for 5,530 yards with 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He’s come back to Earth after the early stages of Minshew Mania but as a backup he’s pretty good. As a third-stringer? He’s excellent.
Nick Sirianni always pushes competition and that quarterback room just got a clear upgrade.
2. Joe Flacco is still the Eagles’ backup for now but he’s on a one-year contract in 2021. Meanwhile, Minshew is just 25 and has two years left on his rookie contract as a sixth-round pick. So the Eagles overpaid for Flacco this year but they’ll pay Minshew just $850,000 in 2021 and just $965,000 in 2022.
No matter what happens this season, no matter who the starter is in 2022, I expect Minshew to be a cheap and solid backup for the Eagles next season. There are going to be the theories about Deshaun Watson — those rumors aren’t going away — so Minshew could be Watson’s backup in 2022. Or he could be Hurts’ backup. Or he could be the backup for a rookie next season. No matter, he’s a cost-controlled quarterback who’s easy to keep around.
3. The first thought many had when the trade went down was that maybe there’s another move to follow. And that could be true. Maybe the Eagles will try to ship Flacco off right now for a pick. But it might make more sense to keep Flacco as the backup and Minshew as the third-stringer until Minshew learns the offense.
But if we’re in Week 5 and a quarterback goes down somewhere across the league? You’d have to imagine that Roseman would then be willing to trade Flacco and get a pick in return.
4. Don’t think of this trade as a statement on Hurts. Sure, the Eagles haven’t named him their starter and maybe they’re not fully committed to him long-term. But I wouldn’t worry about this bothering Hurts; he’s not fragile. There are some quarterbacks you’d worry about if you brought in a guy like Minshew, who has a decent resume and a drive to be a starter. But if anything, this could bring out the best in Hurts. He’s not afraid to compete.
And if you’re worried about WIP callers clamoring for Minshew in Week 6, know that Hurts won’t be.
5. Some folks won’t like the idea of the Eagles’ using three spots on their 53-man roster for quarterbacks. I get that. But we know how much the Eagles value the position and had Mullens played well this summer, they might have kept him on their roster. And we’re also entering a 17-game season with COVID-19 questions so the Eagles are lining up some contingency plans. Right or wrong, the Eagles are going to continue to put assets into the position. They’d rather have a valuable third-string quarterback over a sixth corner or a seventh linebacker.