Nick Foles' struggles in Jacksonville have NFL perplexed, why Amari Cooper may be out in Dallas, and could Andy Dalton be headed to New England? All that and more in this post-combine edition of the 10-Point Stance.
1. It's a mystery, man
You may not remember, but there was a time when Nick Foles was playing quarterback as well as anyone in the NFL. Wait. Check that. There was a time when Foles was playing quarterback as well as anyone ever has in playoff history.
His run essentially began in December of 2017 after Eagles starter Carson Wentz went down with a torn ACL. In his first game as a starter that season, he threw four touchdowns. When Philadelphia beat the Falcons in the divisional round, it marked the franchise's first playoff win in almost a decade. In the NFC title game, Foles threw three touchdowns in a blowout over the Vikings.
Then came his most memorable performance as he led the Eagles to a come-from-behind victory over the Patriots in the Super Bowl, complete with a Foles touchdown catch known thereafter as "The Philly Special." It marked the pinnacle of one of the most unique runs any player has ever had in league history.
A year later, he went to Jacksonville as a free agent on a four-year, $88 million deal.
In his one season with the Jaguars, he went 0-4 as a starter, broke his collarbone and was benched. His tenure in Florida has shocked people around the league with how bad it's been. And now his days in Jacksonville may now be over, according to an ESPN report by Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler that stated the team is looking to trade the former Super Bowl MVP.
Editor's Note: Per NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, there is reported interest in Foles, but the Jaguars "haven't initiated talks":
So how did a career that seemed to be going so right go so wrong so quickly?
It's a big question because if teams can decode why he crumbled and determine that it was a temporary thing, there could be serious interest in Foles during free agency.
But first, they have to understand what happened.
After speaking to one executive with the Jaguars and several others around the league, the answers aren't obvious. There's a mix of reasons, ranging from Foles' inability to fit in with Jacksonville's locker room to the lack of talent on the offense (though the latter just doesn't seem accurate to me).
The most widespread belief (and I believe the Jaguars feel the same way) is that Foles simply had a lucky run in Philadelphia. A remarkable one. But a Cinderella story nonetheless.
Combine that with how he's no longer being coached by the innovative Doug Pederson, and the lightning-in-a-bottle theory starts to make a lot of sense.
Foles' story is one of the best in recent NFL history.
And one of the most puzzling.
But if someone can solve it, it's not out of the question that Foles could change his story arc one more time.
2. The QB carousel
Despite Foles' fall, don't be surprised if some quarterback-thirsty team sees him as a viable starter based on his postseason run with Philly in 2017. Players who lead teams to Super Bowls get unusually long shelf lives in the NFL (unless your name is Colin Kaepernick).
One complication he faces is a crowded free-agent quarterback field that could include Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. (That's why I'm assuming the Jaguars won't be able to trade Foles and will cut him.) Brady may be the biggest domino, and teams likely will see what he's going to do before signing any QB.
3. Flying the Coop?
There's a chance that Amari Cooper could be the highest-paid receiver in football next year...
…and playing for the Patriots.
Indeed, teams around the league increasingly believe that the Cowboys' No. 1 target will be playing elsewhere next year.
Part of all this remains guesswork. It's educated guesswork, but the overriding feeling in league circles is that Dallas will not be able to keep both Dak Prescott and Cooper from entering free agency.
If Cooper tests the waters, there will be a frenzy to sign him. He's viewed as not just a great receiving talent but one of the best pure talents in the sport.
And he'd be a hell of an offseason present to any offense.
4. Patriot games
I, for one, am stunned at how much interest there seems to be in current Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who is expected to be traded as the team transitions to the Joe Burrow era.
Several teams have mentioned to me that the Patriots' reported interest in Dalton is even real. Bill Belichick, like others around the league, believes Dalton has untapped potential and that it's been hard to decipher how truly good or bad he is because he's played in Cincinnati.
Who'd have thought that one of the hottest QB names out there this offseason would be one of the league's most criticized?
5. As good as advertised
We know how good Ohio State defensive end Chase Young is on the field. He's apparently pretty damn good off it as well.
Several teams said that Young was impressive during his combine interviews. "Electric," is how one coach described the presumptive No. 2 pick in the upcoming draft. A team personnel executive who met with Young said he was "smart, quick and a natural leader. He blew us away."
There's been some speculation that Washington might consider Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the second overall pick. As against conventional wisdom as that is, owner Dan Snyder is a bit of a wild card in his personnel decisions and capable of doing anything.
But with as well as Young comported himself in Indianapolis, and as superhuman his play was last season, it should be almost impossible for Washington to pass on him.
6. A winning mentality
It's easy to forget amid all the coverage of the NFL Scouting Combine and Oscar season and the debut of The Walking Dead, but the Kansas City Chiefs are still the Super Bowl champions, and they appear to have the mentality to stay that way.
Recently, Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu was asked by ESPN's Adam Teicher if the team has possibly celebrated too long. His answer was smart and revealed a lot about why the Chiefs are champs in the first place.
"I don't think so," he said. "I try not to get caught up in that. … My mindset is that it's time to reset and try to do it again. I think we've got a really good team and a really good opportunity. Not every team has the opportunity we have."
Added receiver Mecole Hardman: "Ain't no time to rest like that. It's definitely tough [trying to win back-to-back championships]. But we've got guys in the room that can make it happen. We've got the coaching staff for it. Now we know what it takes to get there and win it."
Those are the types of things you like to hear from a team trying to repeat. The Chiefs have a smart, workmen-like quality to them while also being supremely talented.
It's the perfect mix.
7. Are you sure you're retired?
I've been told there are teams that either have attempted or will attempt to pull longtime Giants quarterback Eli Manning out of retirement.
Still, the chances of Manning reversing the decision he made in January aren't good, and the chances he does that for a team not named the Giants is nil.
Manning will remain retired, with the Hall of Fame his next likely spot.
8. COVID-19 concerns
There's been very little chatter in the NFL about any dire concerns regarding the coronavirus. As for now, the league is simply monitoring the outbreak. (The NBA, which is still in season, has advised its players not to shake hands with fans but fist-bump instead. This doesn't seem like it would do much to stop the spread of a pathogen, but what do I know? I'm a journalist, not a doctor.)
Where the outbreak may infringe on the NFL is at the draft. One agent who could have a player in Las Vegas next month (the league invites some potential picks every year) says he might advise his client not to go if the virus continues to spread.
That, of course, assumes the league will still hold a mass gathering for the draft.
So far, the NFL doesn't seem overly concerned. It may have to be soon.
9. Pats' stance on Brady is clear
Let's make this crystal-clear: The Patriots want Tom Brady back. I've been told this several times by a source on the team.
But that doesn't mean he'll be back. Like so many negotiations in football, there's a plethora of other factors involved, like money and what players will be around Brady.
And if I were advising Brady, I wouldn't blame him for taking a hard look at that roster. It is devoid of offensive stars and needs some major upgrades on that side of the ball.
This entire situation will continue to take time. Maybe lots of it.
10. A rising tide raises all boats
While many people across the league are talking about impending free agency, the combine or the coronavirus, perhaps the buzziest subject in NFL circles right now is Tony Romo's new contract to remain at CBS.
Most players I've spoken to are happy Romo signed a deal worth $180 million over 10 years. Some players have said publicly they should reject the impending CBA because if Romo can make that kind of money, why shouldn't dudes still playing the game make that?
Romo's contract, though, points to something else, and that is the massive popularity of the league. The money it generates for itself and its partners is so lucrative that it can get someone who hasn't played in the NFL for four years a deal that eclipsed his career earnings without him stepping back on the field.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.