Three months into his broadcast career with ESPN, veteran quarterback Josh McCown has put down the mic. The pads are back on and he’s headed over to Philadelphia on a 1 year, $2m contract.
McCown announced his retirement in June. The announcement ended his varied 17 year career in the league, after a two year stint with the New York Jets. His stop in New York was essentially a mentorship role for then-rookie QB Sam Darnold. In his farewell letter in The Player’s Tribune, he called himself a journeyman who reached the end of his adventure. His desire to spend more time with his family in North Carolina was a principal factor in his decision.
Another Eagles Quarterback Situation
The Eagles have had their fair share of quarterback issues, with starting quarterbacks prone to injury or a victim of ominous coincidence. Donovan McNabb missed 17 regular season games in his 11 seasons. Michael Vick missed 16. Carson Wentz has missed 8.
2019 doesn’t look like this position’s propensity for injury is due to change any time soon.
Fast forward to the Eagles’ preseason opener against Tennessee and QB Nate Sudfeld broke his wrist. He was supposed to be Wentz’s season-opening backup. Now he’s expected to be out until the third or fourth week of the regular season.
If that wasn’t bad enough, QB Cody Kessler was immediately hit in the second week game against Jacksonville after rookie left tackle, Andre Dillard, missed a block. He took a huge hit on a drop back, and was removed from the game and evaluated for a concussion. As of writing, he is still in the concussion protocol.
Head Coach Doug Pederson was left with a dilemma, after only two QBs remained healthy on the roster of four – Carson Wentz and rookie Clayton Thurson. Thorson, the Eagles’ fifth-round pick in the April draft, struggled in training camp. Struggling with nerves in the first preseason game, he made very little impact.
It was time to reach for a veteran to make sure Wentz wasn’t heading into the season with an underwhelming rookie back up.
For Pederson, McCown was a natural choice. Josh McCown’s experience in a myriad of offensive systems should help him assimilate with the Eagles fairly quickly. He’s seen just about everything since being drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2002. McCown has played for a different offensive coordinator every year in his NFL career. He’s learnt from Kurt Warner, the Greatest Show on Turf visionary Mike Markz and Warren Moon’s back up, John Kitna.
McCown also has a history with elite Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffrey. The pair spent time together in Chicago in 12-13, Jeffrey’s first two seasons in the league. He has even chosen to wear number 18 for the Eagles, not just because it’s his 18th season, but because it means he gets to stand next to Jeffrey in the team photo. Having friends, let alone former receivers, on a team is a bonus for anyone joining a new system. Anything to make the transition easier in such a short space of time is beneficial.
While McCown has had this long career, it’s usually been spent with bad football teams in the process of rebuilding. They’ve needed a strong veteran to tide them over until they find their fit. He’s been on just two winning teams and one playoff team in 16 seasons, with his record as an NFL starter at 23-53.
The ability to have another shot at ending his career on a high instead of in a rookie’s shadow is enticing. The Eagles are a competitive team with a selection of receiving weapons to target, an idiosyncratic system and only two seasons removed from the Lombardi trophy.
Eagles fans have seen an average of 3.2 backup starts per season over the last 15 years. For the Eagles, McCown is a knowledgeable QB with ties in the team, and a reliable back up. However, for McCown, the Eagles are a way to put his career to rest on his terms: he saw what Nick Foles was able to do for Philadelphia in Super Bowl LII.
Besides, North Carolina is only a 6 hour drive away; what’s another 16 weeks?
This guest piece on Josh McCown was written by Clara Lilley. Clara is an avid NFL fan, with a passion for the off the field stories that inform the plays on the field. She used to host a former comedy podcast ‘Ice Up Sun’ combining her love of the game with astrology, and currently contributes to NFL Girl UK. A long suffering Tennessee Titans fan since 2010, she’s hoping this will finally be their year. Twitter: @yellilaralc Instagram: @yellilaralc
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports