Philadelphia Eagles: What’s Matt Barkley up to these days?

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

Once dubbed a fourth-round steal, what has former-USC quarterback Matt Barkley been up to since being traded away from the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015?

I once had an uncle tell me that he thought Matt Barkley had what it took to be the Philadelphia Eagles‘ next great starting quarterback.

Needless to say, we don’t talk about football anymore.

But while picking up a pizza at a local shop, I caught a few minutes of the most recent Dallas CowboysCincinnati Bengals game, and guess who threw John Ross a go-ahead touchdown ball?

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None other than Matthew Montgomery Barkley.

While the game was deep into the second half, likely featuring players with very little chance of actually making an NFL roster (outside of Ross who was the ninth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft), I was admittedly a bit shocked that Barkley was even still playing football, let alone on an NFL roster.

I needed to look into this further.

For me at least, the Barkley-saga effectively ended in 2015, when the Eagles traded the former fourth-round pick out of USC to the Arizona Cardinals for a conditional seventh-round pick, a pairing that lasted only one year, and didn’t result in a single stat.

From there I have the smallest memories of Barkley suiting up for the pre-Mitchell Trubisky Chicago Bears, but that team was so bad that I’m pretty sure I could have played quarterback from them and won just as many games (hyperbole).

Well, since then, Barkley has remained steadily employed as a deep bench backup, finishing out his tenure in Chicago, before returning to Arizona for the 2017 season, where he did not appear in a single game.

After the Cards opted to select ‘The Rosen One’ Josh Rosen with the 10th overall pick out of UCLA, USC’s intercity rivals, Barkley was on the move again, this time signing a two-year deal to compete with incumbent Jeff Driskel to become Andy Dalton‘s primary backup, presumably at least until history repeats itself and the Bengals decide to draft a new quarterback in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft and Barkley moves on to another borderline QB needy team like, say, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or the Miami Dolphins (boy, three teams in the state of Florida and not a single franchise quarterback).

Or will he?

While Barkley is no spring chicken at the tender age of 27, he could conceivably play quarterback in the NFL for the next decade if he wants to, and if he does beat out Driskel, he’d be a play away from a Drew BledsoeTom Brady-esque situation that could install him as the new face of football in the state of Ohio.

All he needs is a chance, right?


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Currently sitting third on the Bengals depth chart behind San Francisco 49ers 2016 sixth-round pick Jeff Driskel, who, fun fact, was once the highest-ranked quarterback in the nation coming out of high school, if Barkley does, in fact, make the Bengals roster, the chances of him playing any significant minutes seem fairly unlikely.

Though his place on the depth chart may shift slightly with Driskel over the final two preseason games, as the duo appear locked in a fairly contested battle for that backup quarterback position, in situations such as these, the younger arm typically wins out, especially when, at 27, Barkley’s ceiling as a developmental prospect has pretty much been reached.

No, barring some sort of miraculous Nick Foles-esque miracle, it would appear Matt Barkley will never again be considered a franchise-caliber quarterback, even if that hype was fairly short-lived and relegated to only a few overly ambitious uncles.

Which is a shame, because once upon a time, Barkley was considered an almost can’t miss prospect.

An almost consensus top-10 pick after his junior year at USC, a season in which he threw for 3,528 yards and 39 touchdowns versus only seven interceptions, Barkley made the somewhat controversial decision to return to LA for his senior year to take another shot at winning a national title, a move that literally cost him millions.

Though Barkley appeared in 11 games, his Trojans regressed considerably, dropping to a 7-6 season. This, when coupled with Barkley’s 15 interceptions and season-ending shoulder injury delivered a serious blow to his draft stock, dropping him all the way to the fourth round where Chip Kelly selected his former Pac-12 foe 98th overall.

Now granted, had Barkley been selected in the first round and performed in a similar way to how he had thus far in his career, he likely would be out of the league altogether, much like his USC Trojan predecessor Matt Leinart.

So hey, maybe that’s the silver lining of this whole situation? Even though Barkley may never become a team starting quarterback, there are only 32 of those players in the league at any given time, with twice as many backups biding their time on the bench. Though far less glamorous, Barkley has up to this point earned almost $6.5 million over his time in the league, a number that will surely continue to rise as he bounces around from team to team.

Who knows, maybe he could be the next Chase Daniel?

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So, to summarize, Matt Barkley is still very much an NFL quarterback, even if he never again has an opportunity to compete for a starting job. And that’s okay.  As one of the 100 best people at his job in the world, the former UFC Trojan will continue to rake in millions year-after-year and live a happy life out of the spotlight. Maybe we can all learn a thing or two from Matt Barkley?