Throughout the spring and summer as Josh McCown coached his sons Owen and Aiden at Myers Park High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, he would receive a text message from a coach or an inquiry from an NFL team about his availability for the 2019 NFL season. And each time, McCown would consider the circumstances, all of them, and decline the opportunity.
And then he talked with the Eagles at length and he went down his list of criteria and, by golly, the Eagles checked all the boxes.
Contending team. Check.
Great coaching staff with an innovative offense. Check.
An organization committed to winning with a rabid fan base. Check, check.
The right picture at quarterback, led by franchise player Carson Wentz. Check, check, check.
Proximity to Charlotte in the event that he needed to get back home quickly. Checkmate.
“The whole organization in general, just where they’ve been the last few years under Howie (Roseman) and Doug’s (Pederson) leadership, winning a championship and just the standard of excellence that they pursue and to come be a part of that and to have this opportunity this late in my career, to keep it going, I’m just excited to be part of it,” McCown said on Saturday, minutes after signing his one-year contract at the NovaCare Complex. To make room for him on the roster, the Eagles waived wide receiver Braxton Miller
“More than anything, it was the comfort level I had talking with Doug, where they’re trying to take this thing and where they’re trying to get back to and understanding the expectations that they have here. I’ve been in a lot of situations throughout my career – where I was helping a young guy or serving as a stopgap kind of guy or being part of a rebuilding situation -- so to come to a situation where it was more established, where they’ve got the quarterback (Carson Wentz) and a veteran defense and a lot of good players on the offense, that to me was enticing. To see how it’s done at a high level and done right, that was the dialogue with Howie and Doug.
“It was an easy sell, to be quite honest.”
Adding McCown gives the Eagles an experienced and talented quarterback in the room and his experience and perspective, along with a league-wide reputation as being one of the great locker room guys in the NFL, is a plus for the team. McCown will be on the field on Sunday when the Eagles resume practice at the NovaCare Complex, and he’ll be deep in the playbook as he learns yet another offense playing with his 11th team in 17 NFL seasons.
McCown entered the NFL in 2002 and he’s been part of a revolutionary era of offense at this level. He’s long admired former Eagles head coach and current Kansas City head coach Andy Reid and has also has an extremely appreciative view of Pederson and his offensive scheme and play-calling abilities.
Learning the offense is something that McCown has done so many times it’s almost second nature.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I try to keep up with the league over the years and even in this offseason and you see the influences that Doug’s had and who he’s been around, it’s cool. This offense performs at a high level. There is a lot to work with here and Doug takes full advantage of what he has here.
“In the 18 years that I’ve been around, to see where the NFL’s offenses are now versus where they were when I started, it’s neat. It’s such a different game now. I’m a huge fan of what Doug does. A huge fan. I’m looking forward to seeing how Doug runs the team and how he oversees the offense. This is an ideal situation for me.”
McCown served as the quarterbacks coach for his sons’ high school team, so he’s kept his arm in shape. As talks with the Eagles heated up during the week, he grabbed an NFL ball instead of tossing around a high school football and amped up his workouts. His sons were there for every throw and they’ve watched him throughout his career, and they both gave Pops the thumbs-up.
“They said I was spinning it just fine, so I think I’m coming in here feeling good about my arm,” he said. “I’m all ready to get it going and learn the offense.”