Philadelphia Eagles: What to do about Nick Mullens?

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

When the Philadelphia Eagles released Jamie Newman earlier this offseason, it left many a fan confused about the team’s immediate plans.

Sure, the team already had a 22-year-old signal-caller in Jalen Hurts in place as their potential franchise quarterback in waiting and everyone’s favorite Audubon, New Jersey native – and Super Bowl MVP – Joe Flacco in place to back him up, but to many, Newsome was one of the more intriguing options in the 2021 NFL Draft. Landing him for nothing, not even any guaranteed money on his contract, felt like an absolute steal that could potentially pay off down the road.

… then the Eagles signed Nick Mullens and suddenly, the loss of Newman felt a whole lot less vital.

But now, with the preseason right around the corner and the Philadelphia Eagles’ top-two quarterbacks more or less locked in place, what should Howie Roseman and company do with their third-string quarterback? Should the team risk subjecting Mullens to the rest of the league in an attempt to stash him away on the practice squad or waste a 53 man roster spot on a player who won’t take the field if everything remains copasetic?

The Philadelphia Eagles have a tough decision to make about QB3.

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If Nick Mullens was released today, he’d be on another team by the weekend.

From the Indianapolis Colts to the Tennessee Titans, the Atlanta Falcons, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Seattle Seahawks, there are a host of NFL teams who at the very least could be on the lookout for a legitimately viable number two option and at worst would like to add additional competition to their quarterbacks room.

Will that change four weeks into the future, when some potentially surprising players like Mason Rudolph could become available? Or would Mullens be snatched up by a team on a potentially lucrative full-on NFL contract before the Eagles can even offer him a spot on their practice squad?

That, my friend, is the $970,000 question.

Now, as tough as it may be to admit, if the final trim down took place today, Joe Flacco would be the Eagles’ number two quarterback, point-blank, period. The former Baltimore Raven has played well through training camp, picked up a nice report with many of the team’s top-tier offensive contributors, and, most importantly of all, has a $3.5 million cap hit if he’s released. Even if Mullens has more potential as a long-term backup, the 37-year-old provides more value at the moment, which is all that really matters.

Fun fact: Flacco’s one-year contract is structured in such a way that he will count for $3.5 million in dead money if he’s released in 2021 and an additional $1.94 million in 2022. If he does make it all the way through the season, however, Flacco will still count for $1.94 million against the cap in 2022, plus an additional $485,000 from his signing bonus in 2023-25. Good money if you can get it.

So really, the question isn’t “can Mullens beat out Flacco for the backup quarterback job?” Outside of an incredible collection of preseason performances or a Carson Wentz-esque injury, that ship appears to have sailed. No, the real question should be “do the Eagles think Mullens is a viable long-term backup?”

If Mullens is a viable second-stringer in waiting then heck yeah, keep him around at the expense of a player like Hassan Ridgeway, Craig James, or Luke Juriga. His contract is cheap, his arm is live, and at 26, there’s still plenty of tread left on his tires. Remember, Mullens has a 5-11 record during his time with the 49ers, and those teams weren’t quite Super Bowl contenders, if you know what I mean.

But if not? Well, why not try to snag a player like, say, Easton Stick, or Sam Ehlinger if they fall on the wrong side of release guillotine?

Next. Pre-preseason 53 man roster prediction. dark

In the grand scheme of things, teams are seldom defined by the strength of their third-string quarterbacks. While it’s always nice to have a third guy in the room who has won games at the NFL level, especially with a 22-year-old starting quarterback, teams typically only dress two QBs in any given game so their contributions are marginal if things go well and pointless if they are called into serious action. If the Philadelphia Eagles keep Nick Mullens around, it’ll be because they like his potential as a Chase Daniel-esque long-term reserve, not because he’s a developmental prospect who could serve as a lottery ticket down the line. At this point, Mullens is who he is, and that’s a top-60 quarterback in the NFL, which is a pretty good accomplishment if you ask me.