PHILADELPHIA -- It was a big offseason for Nick Foles. He went to the Pro Bowl, earning Offensive MVP honors. He got married. Meanwhile, all the Eagles' offseason moves served mostly to reinforce Foles' status as the team's new franchise quarterback.
In that area, next offseason will be even bigger for the 25-year-old Foles.
Under the rules of the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, the Eagles can't sign Foles to a new contract until after the 2014 season. That is good for the team in one sense. The team might have overreacted to Foles' 2013 season, handed him a lucrative new deal and then had to hope he lived up to it. This way, the team gets another full season to evaluate Foles in coach Chip Kelly's offense.
The Eagles' third-round draft pick in 2012, Foles has started 16 games over the past two seasons. He won nine of them -- eight in 10 regular-season starts last year under Kelly. In his two-year career overall, Foles has thrown 33 touchdown passes and seven interceptions (27 TDs and two interceptions last year), completing 364 of 582 passes (62.5 percent) for 4,590 yards.
Kaepernick has started 23 games, with a record of 16-7. In his three-year career overall, he has completed 382 of 639 passes (59.8 percent) for 5,046 yards, 31 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Kaepernick is more mobile, but Foles happens to play with the NFL's leading rusher, LeSean McCoy, in the same backfield.
The Eagles aren't getting the biggest QB bargain in the NFL. That distinction still belongs to the Seattle Seahawks, who won a Super Bowl while paying quarterback Russell Wilson less than the Eagles will pay backup offensive lineman Allen Barbre this year. Like Foles, Wilson can't get a new deal until after the 2014 season.
Unlike Foles, Wilson has a brand-new Super Bowl title on his resume. That would likely protect him against a disappointing 2014 performance. For Foles, proving that 2013 was not a fluke remains a reasonable box to have to check off before getting a massive new contract. After all, he was 1-5 as a starter in 2012, Andy Reid's final season in Philadelphia.
The Eagles have a history of taking good financial care of their quarterbacks. Donovan McNabb received a second contract worth nearly $100 million going into just his fourth season with the team. More recently, Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb should have no complaints about the way they were treated by the Eagles.
Foles' journey was different. He was never identified as the No. 1 quarterback until he was actually playing like one after Vick was injured last year. His excellent 2013 was all tied up with Kelly's first season in the NFL. It will take another season, at least, for Foles to establish his actual value among NFL quarterbacks.
As it happens, that's exactly when Foles will be in position to get paid like a starting quarterback. Ultimately, it will be Foles' performance in 2014 -- not Kaepernick or anyone else --- that sets the market for him.