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Eagles eager to lock in Jalen Hurts as their long-term franchise QB

PHILADELPHIA -- Speaking at the league meetings in Arizona last week, Eagles CEO Jeffrey Lurie included Jalen Hurts on a select list of quarterbacks he views as borderline unstoppable in the NFL.

Lurie explained his team always allocates more dollars to the offensive side of the ball because even the best defenses face long odds when going up against elite signal-callers.

“It’s very hard to stop … the Jalen Hurts’, the Patrick Mahomes’, the Josh Allens, the Joe BurrowsAaron Rodgers and all of that group. It’s impossible given the rules of this league," Lurie said.

Of all the factors that go into the success of an organization -- culture, scouting, coaching, etc. -- Lurie said “the hardest part for sure is the scarcity of really good quarterbacks. We’ve got one and we’ve got a very special player and individual in that position. It bodes very well for us.”

Both Lurie and general manager Howie Roseman have referred to Hurts as a franchise quarterback this offseason. Their conviction in him is evident in how they talk about him and in their eagerness to sign him to a contract extension that could cost about $50 million per season.

The excitement is understandable given how Hurts elevated his game to a level worthy of MVP consideration in 2022 and went toe-to-toe with Mahomes in Super Bowl LVII, racking up 374 total yards and four touchdowns with one costly turnover in a 38-35 loss to the Chiefs.

It’s also striking how quickly the team’s words and actions have shifted over the course of a year. At these meetings last March, Lurie spoke of the difficulty of projecting QBs, calling what is thought of as an “automatic franchise quarterback … almost non-existent.” He knew Hurts had enough promising traits to potentially develop into one, but added “Who knows what the future holds, right?”

Underscoring that uncertainty was the reported interest the Eagles showed in Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson in the weeks and months prior. Lurie at the time chalked any work they put into the players as due diligence and declined to say whether he would have greenlit a trade if Watson wanted to come to Philadelphia.

As dedicated as Hurts is to his craft, it was hard to forecast that he would make such a profound leap in his second season as a fulltime starter. He went from 19th (54.6) to fourth (66.4) in QBR and 26th (61.3%) to 11th (66.5%) in completion percentage while dropping his average time before throw from 3.12 seconds (31st) to 2.76 seconds (16th) on average. His 43 total touchdowns surpassed Donovan McNabb for most ever in a single season in franchise history, helping him to second-team All-Pro honors and a Pro Bowl nod.

And according to coach Nick Sirianni, he has not let up this offseason.

“He’s still in there working hard, he’s still in there lifting and working it like a maniac in the weight room, just getting after it. People have asked me, ‘How good can Jalen Hurts be?’ No one knows what Jalen’s ceiling can be but I know, God willing, he can reach it because of all the factors that he has. He’s not all of a sudden different. He’s still putting in the work like you’ve seen him put in the work the last couple years.”

It will be hard for Hurts to be surrounded by the same level of talent as he was last season. Rosters like that don’t come along often, and there won’t be nearly as much money to go around once Hurts transitions from rookie to mega-contract. With Roseman hoping such a deal is done “relatively soon” he is approaching this offseason accordingly.

“We're going into it with our eyes open and understanding that we've got to kind of flip it (to have some younger, less expensive players on the roster)," he said.

There are lessons to take from the team’s last Super Bowl trip in 2017, when Carson Wentz was still on a rookie deal, to the less successful years that followed as the talent fell off and Wentz eventually got his mega-contract in 2019.

There were injuries and poor personnel decisions that held them back, but “I think also, the important thing is you need high-level quarterback play,” Roseman said.

Wentz wasn’t able to provide it at a regular clip. They’re betting Hurts will.

It wasn’t long ago Wentz was coming off an MVP-level campaign of his own and was being showered by team brass with similar praise as Hurts is receiving now. Then injuries struck and play declined and relationships frayed and Wentz was traded to the Indianapolis Colts a little more than a month after Roseman likened Wentz to a finger on his hand.

“You can't even imagine they're not here,” he said. “That's how I feel about Carson."

It's another reminder of how swiftly the conversation can shift on a player in this building, and across the league.

But there are a few exceptions -- quarterbacks who sustain a high level of play over many years, giving their franchise a level of sustenance other organizations can only dream about. With the wind at their backs coming off a dominating 14-3 regular season and Super Bowl run, the Eagles are feeling bullish that they have found one in Hurts.

“The future is so great for him. He’s 24 years old. Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever met somebody that mature at age 24,” Lurie said. “I like to think I have -- my son’s 27, he’s very mature -- no, Jalen is the most mature 24-year-old I’ve ever come across.

“The thing with Jalen that I’m so optimistic about is he’s just got this incredible … passion for being phenomenal. You see that in the great ones.”