INDIANAPOLIS – This is a common thought process and goal for every NFL team, and that's why the period we're in right now, with free agency starting within two weeks and the NFL Draft opening on April 27 is the most exciting and risky of the offseason.
How do you find a quarterback, and not just any quarterback, but a "great quarterback who plays at a high level," as Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman puts it? There is a reason teams are expected to jump over each other and vault into the top 10, the top 5, probably even the very top, of this year's NFL Draft. And why just about any quarterback who is available on the streets right now – that's you, Derek Carr – is meeting with every team looking to solve its hole at the position. What happens if Aaron Rodgers says he wants to play in 2023 and the Packers make it known the future Hall of Famer is available? That is going to be interesting to watch.
Anyway, the importance of having an outstanding quarterback cannot be overstated, and having one, as the Eagles do in Jalen Hurts means, well, what does it mean?
"It's the key to your success, right?" Roseman said at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine. "Head coach, quarterback – huge keys to your success. I mean, you can't win without those two pieces. Obviously, we have a lot of confidence in those guys and I think a lot of the building of last year, it was really intentional to make sure that he (Hurts) had really good players around him so his talents could shine.
"We don't want to lose that."
The goal is to have sustained success, and to have that teams generally must have that same picture at the game's most important position. The Eagles had it through the 2000s with Donovan McNabb at quarterback and Andy Reid at head coach, and the two combined for five NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl appearance.
For just a flash in 2010, Michael Vick showed that he might have the same kind of magic, but he was unable to sustain his Pro Bowl level of play. Carson Wentz, the team's first-round draft pick and No. 2 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, played at that level until suffering his devastating knee injury in 2017. Nick Foles, a solid veteran but not a long-term option, had superstar performances in the NFC Championship Game to beat Minnesota and then in Super Bowl LII to turn away New England, and the Eagles earned a Lombardi Trophy.
Uncertainty at the position paralleled uneven team performance in 2018 and 2019 and then it just flat fell apart in 2020.
But give the Eagles' football organization a major kudos for a quick rebound: selecting Hurts in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft and then hiring Sirianni and his excellent staff of teachers and then building up the talent base around Hurts helped accelerate his growth. That philosophy won't change; the Eagles will continue to emphasize the strength of the offensive line and the playmakers who work with Hurts, and Offensive Coordinator Brian Johnson and Quarterbacks Coach Alex Tanney will push Hurts and challenge him to take his game to new levels.
The issue of a new contract is clearly one that Roseman and the team are preparing to tackle, understanding that Hurts will gain a "tremendous" new deal, in Roseman's words, because he deserves it. If you think a new contract will hamper the Eagles' efforts to win Super Bowls, look at the Chiefs and how they have managed the roster around Patrick Mahomes' massive contract.
The great news heading into what is sure to be a heated offseason of roster building is that the Eagles have their guy at the quarterback position, and a look around the NFC, for example, reveals that not a lot of teams have the same benefit. The Eagles have a lot of work to do in the months ahead, but they have the most important player at the most important position about to enter the prime of his career.
The contract? Sure, it's a big thing and it's extremely important, but when both sides want to get something done, it usually happens in a very positive way.
"I think the better thing is when you have a quarterback that's good enough that you want to pay him and that he has a chance to be a great player. Show him what kind of player he's going to be," Roseman said. "If you don't have a quarterback, you're searching for one, and you can't win in this league without a great quarterback who plays at a high level. We saw how Jalen played in the Super Bowl, on the biggest stage, and that's exciting for our team, for our fans, for all of us."