HomeDa Birds NewsThe decision about the Eagles' backup QB will expose the reality of...

The decision about the Eagles’ backup QB will expose the reality of McKee’s ability.

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PHILADELPHIA – For all intents and purposes, veteran quarterback Marcus Mariota signed a one-year, $5 million deal to backup Jalen Hurts last season for the Philadelphia Eagles.

From a bookkeeping perspective, however, Mariota, 30, signed a five-year deal for salary-cap purposes that officially voided on Monday. The give and take there is that the Eagles’ got a cap number of $1,932,000 for the 2023 season with Mariota but the rest of that $5M ($3,068,000) now gets pushed forward to the 2023 cap once the void is exercised.

What the Eagles do now at backup QB could both reveal what the organization thinks of Tanner McKee as a second-year prospect and whether or not a deep playoff run is still a realistic goal inside the NovaCare Complex.

Jalen Hurts will likely have  anew backup in 2024.

© Kim Klement Neitzel,, USA TODAY

The backup QB position has been an interesting one in Philadelphia since the organization became a contender in 2017 and rode the No. 2, Nick Foles, to the only Super Bowl win in franchise history after Carson Wentz did the heavy lifting in the regular season before tracking his ACL/LCL.

In 2018 the Eagles were able to run it back one more time with Wentz and Foles but by 2019, Foles was off to Jacksonville or an ill-fated stint as a starter and 17-year sage Josh McCown was imported to counsel Wentz, ultimately finishing the season on a torn hamstring after the QB1 was knocked out early in the playoffs against Seattle with a concussion.

The 2020 season was Doug Pederson’s last and things went off the rails, partially because of the decision the Eagles made to steer away from a veteran backup and draft Jalen Hurts with the 53rd overall pick in the second round.

Despite some revisionist history since, the original plan was to have a cost-effective backup for Wentz, still the then-franchise QB, and ultimately spin off Hurts down the line, perhaps for significant draft capital if Hurts showed signs over what was expected to be limited playing time.

Instead, Wentz spiraled and was benched for Hurts late in the latter’s rookie season. Even then, Philadelphia still planned to try it one more time with Wentz and when Pederson was fired for standing tall over his coaching staff, Nick Sirianni was brought in with the idea of a Wentz reclamation project.

Wentz had turned the page on the Eagles, however, and forced his way out, something that essentially handed the baton to Hurts. What followed was an unlikely run to the playoffs but the Eagles were wise enough to cover their bets with Joe Flacco and late-August trade-pickup Gardner Minshew.

Once Flacco was traded back to the New York Jets, Minshew, who had extensive starting experience with the Jaguars, took over as the No. 2 through the rest of the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

Minshew followed former Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen to Indianapolis and made the Pro Bowl after replacing injured rookie Anthony Richardson.

That meant the Eagles needed a new backup and landed on Mariota, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft who was once the talk of the town in Philly as a potential Chip Kelly draft pick.

We bring up all that recent history to illustrate that the Eagles have preferred a veteran backup when they believe a deep playoff run is in the cards.

The idea is that a proven commodity is better to both persevere for a game or two while also serving as insurance against completely giving up on a season in what is a football-crazed city if a catastrophic injury takes out the starter.

Related: Eagles’ Marcus Mariota Has Moved Past the ‘What If’ Game

Moving forward, it’s unlikely that Mariota will return for a second go-round with the Eagles unless all West Coast avenues are closed for the native Hawaiian.

The truth is that Mariota would have preferred to stay out west last season if he had the opportunity.

The developmental option on hand is McKee, a 2023 sixth-round pick who is a more traditional pocket passer and potentially a better fit for what new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has done previously in Dallas and with the LA Chargers.

In the end, the decision on whether to elevate McKee to No. 2 isn’t only about fit with Moore, it would also be a validation of the Stanford product as a legitimate prospect because the Eagles will not go into a season in which the playoffs are in reach with a backup QB they don’t trust.

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