All along, Nate Sudfeld knew that the Eagles would likely bring in another quarterback for the 2020 season and, truly, that didn't factor into his decision to return to the team on a one-year deal. Competition is the nature of the business in the NFL. You just don't get comfortable. And for Sudfeld and the lessons he's learned in his four seasons in the league, there is nothing more important to know.
"Wherever you go," he said, "there are going to be other quarterbacks coming in."
The Eagles did bring in another quarterback, of course, selecting Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft and now the team has four quarterbacks on the roster: face of the franchise Carson Wentz, Sudfeld, Hurts, and Kyle Lauletta. It remains to be seen how it will all shake out behind Wentz, but the presumptive thinking is that Sudfeld, in his fourth season with the team and his fifth in the NFL – boy, did that fly by – will line up as the No. 2, a critical spot on the roster, when September rolls around.
Amid all of the hullabaloo from the time the Eagles drafted Hurts, the reality is that the talented young quarterback has a whole lot of work to do to learn the Eagles' offense and with no spring on-field work in the offing, it's going to be tough for Hurts to make up ground when Training Camp opens. Sudfeld knows the system, knows the coaching staff, knows the quarterback room, and he's got a huge dose of readiness after a frustrating 2019 season.
In short, Sudfeld is ready for the job. He thought he was good to go last year as the backup until suffering a broken left wrist in a preseason game against Tennessee, an injury that sidelined Sudfeld into the regular season. When Sudfeld was ready to return, the Eagles had already added Josh McCown to the roster and made him Wentz's backup.
Sudfeld spent the entirety of the '19 campaign as the No. 3 quarterback, active for only five games. He didn't play a down. Didn't throw a pass. Worked hard in practice to improve his game and then bit his lip with frustration on Sundays.
When free agency beckoned, Sudfeld considered his options. He could have signed with other teams as a backup and maybe it would have worked out, but his familiarity with everything Eagles brought him back to Philadelphia on a one-year deal.
So, here is he: The No. 2.
"I'm excited about the player we got. Jalen is an incredible teammate and player and I think he's going to have a great, long career. Kyle is awesome, too, and then, obviously, Carson," Sudfeld said in a phone interview from Oregon, which you can listen to on the most recent Eagles Insider Podcast. "I think the better you can have a quarterback room, from top to bottom, and we've been very fortunate to have really strong quarterback rooms since I've been in Philly, so I think that benefits everyone, it benefits the team. If somebody goes down, it's the next man up.
"Everybody kind of makes it dramatic or a big deal, but once you're in that quarterback room, it's a lot of helping each other out and everyone is getting better and it's never really weird at all, so I'm just looking forward to getting back into the room with guys and getting back to work."
Sudfeld has thrown all of 25 passes in the NFL regular season, completing 20, and none since the regular-season finale in 2018 at Washington when he connected with wide receiver Nelson Agholor for a 22-yard catch-and-run touchdown, Sudfeld's first scoring pass in the league. Since the Eagles signed Sudfeld to the practice squad shortly before the 2017 regular season after Washington released Sudfeld, he's ingrained himself into the offense. In many ways, you kind of expect Sudfeld to have a plug-and-play approach here. He isn't as athletic as is Wentz – not many are – but he's grown into his 6-6, 227-pound body and he's nimbler than you might think.
"I'm working on it and I've gotten a lot better in that regard," Sudfeld said. "That's something I've been addressing for some time now. I feel good about where I am. When I have my chance in the preseason or whatever, I'm ready to play."
In the meantime, Sudfeld is out in Oregon having moved out of his parents' home, where he spent the first several weeks of the quarantine, and now has his own place. He's able to throw to his brothers and keep his arm loose. He is taking part in the Eagles' virtual offseason program and wrap his head around any nuances that have been added to the Eagles' offense.
"I didn't realize it would be so effective," Sudfeld said. "I had no idea what to expect going into the virtual offseason, but so far it's been pleasantly surprising how well it's gone."
Since Doug Pederson has been the head coach, the Eagles have had Chase Daniel, Nick Foles, and then McCown as the backup to Wentz, who had his 2017 and 2018 regular seasons ended by injury and then was forced out early in the 2019 postseason with a concussion. We know how important the position is in the course of the long, grinding NFL season. Sudfeld is ready for his turn at No. 2. He's put in the work. The Eagles have confidence in him. The dynamic of the quarterback room changed when the Eagles drafted Hurts, and everybody in that room understands the business.
"You are always going to have competition in the NFL. That brings out the best in you," Sudfeld said. "I can only focus on getting myself better and showing the best of me this season. I'm ready for that."