Eagles need to sign a veteran backup quarterback

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For as much as the Eagles prioritize the quarterback position, there is still one terrifying number that is hard to ignore when it comes to their current depth chart. 

One. 

That concerning number is the amount of meaningful pass attempts the Eagles’ quarterbacks outside of Carson Wentz have thrown in the NFL, giving them one of the most uncertain and questionable backup situations in the league. 

It is also a number that should lead them to sign a veteran backup quarterback for the 2020 season, and not go into the season with either Nate Sudfeld or Jalen Hurts as the top options. 

That one throw, a pass out of bounds in the final minutes of a 2019 win over the Houston Texans, was thrown by quarterback Nate Sudfeld. It is the only time in his three-year career he has been on the field in anything other than a blowout or meaningless game. As optimistic as some (me) have been about Sudfeld, and still remain, the reality is the Eagles signed a veteran backup last year in training camp to replace him. 

By doing so, Sudfeld missed the chance to get some real playing time when Wentz went down, and remains a mystery heading into his fourth season. 

The number of meaningful pass attempts for rookie Jalen Hurts is, of course, zero. There is a lot to like about the Eagles’ second-round pick, but with basically no offseason and perhaps a limited training camp, the idea of him being a dependable backup in Week 1 is unrealistic. If Wentz were to go down with a long-term injury next season, and the Eagles wanted to play Hurtss to see if he can takeover as the next quarterback, that is one thing. For a short-term injury where the team wanted to remain competitive, however, putting Hurts in -- especially early on -- isn't the answer. It isn’t a slight on Hurts to say he isn’t ready to be back a backup. It is just being realistic and fair to the rookie. 

Sure, the Eagles could catch lighting-in-a-bottle with either player. But as Howie Roseman has said multiple times this offseason, hope is not a strategy — and the history of Wentz going down shows the Eagles need a better plan at backup quarterback, and there season very well could be decided by who that backup is. 

Although Wentz has played all 16 regular season-games twice in his four year-career, there is no ignoring the fact that when he has missed time, it has come in big spots. 

He left a crucial game against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 14 in 2017, then missed the entire playoff run. He went down in Week 13 in 2018, once again missing crucial late-season games and the Eagles’ two playoff games. In 2019, he was out for basically the entire playoff loss to Seattle. 

Wentz’s track record shows that when he does miss time, it comes in big spots, and that has to be taken into consideration when deciding on who the backup should be. Do the Eagles want to put Hurts or Sudfeld into the same spots they have been lucky enough to put Nick Foles into? Yes, Foles wasn’t a Super Bowl MVP, big-game winner when he took over in 2017 — but he had a ton of starting experience and even playoff experience, a major difference from the team’s current backups. 

The good news for the Eagles is that there are still some options out there that check off what they need in a backup quarterback. 

Cam Newton, Joe Flacco and Josh McCown all remain unsigned. All three would be more of a sure-thing for the Eagles heading into a late-season game if Wentz were to go down. Both Newton and Flacco have a boatload of big game and playoff experience, and would be ideal players to step in for Wentz if he were to go down. 

The argument against signing Newton throughout the offseason has been the potential distraction it would bring to Wentz. After drafting Hurts, however, the said repeatedly that they are confident in their relationship with Wentz, and really do believe they have shown him he is the franchise guy. If that is the case, than bringing in Newton should