Pennsylvania

Jalen Hurts May Become First Philadelphia Eagles Player To Win NFL’s MVP Award

In March 2021, the Philadelphia Eagles traded quarterback Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts, just three years after the franchise won its first Super Bowl and Wentz placed third in the NFL’s Most Valuable Player poll.

The deal wasn’t too shocking. Wentz reportedly wanted to leave, and he had lost his starting job to rookie Jalen Hurts late in the 2020 season. Still, there were many questions about Philadelphia’s quarterback situation and whether the Eagles would (or should) stick with Hurts, draft a rookie, or sign a veteran to challenge Hurts.

Now Hurts has established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the league and is the main reason the Eagles play so well.

The Eagles (12-1) have the best record in the NFL and are the only team to have already secured a playoff berth. They are the favorites to win the NFC according to DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM and PointsBet as compiled by RotoWire. They have the second-best odds of winning the Super Bowl, behind only the Buffalo Bills, who are 10-3. And they have the largest point differential (138 points, or an average winning margin of 10.6 points) in the NFL.

Hurts is a big favorite according to these four sports books to become the first Eagles player to win the MVP. Hurts odds range from -140 to -175, so a $100 bet would range from $157.14 to $171.43.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the 2018 MVP, has the second best odds between +150 and +200. This means that a $100 bet would net between $250 and $300.

Hurts completed 68% of his passes for 3,157 yards, 22 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He leads the NFL with a 108.4 quarterback rating and has the NFL’s best interception percentage at 0.8%. He also has 139 carries for 686 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.

In Sunday’s 48-22 away win against the New York Giants, Hurts threw for 217 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 77 yards and a touchdown. He became the first quarterback in NFL history to have at least 10 rushing touchdowns in consecutive seasons.

Hurts’ versatility led the Eagles to pick him in the second round (53rd overall pick) of the 2020 draft.

After playing three years in Alabama and losing the starting job to current Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Hurts made the move to Oklahoma. In his lone season with the Sooners in 2019, Hurts completed 69.7% of his passes, threw 32 touchdowns and rushed for 1,298 yards and 20 touchdowns. He finished second in voting for the Heisman Trophy behind LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, who defeated Oklahoma 63-28 in the college football playoff semifinals.

As a freshman, Hurts started the year on the bench, attempting just three passes in the first 11 games of the season. But during the third quarter of the Eagles-Green Bay Packers game on December 6, 2020, Hurts replaced Wentz, who was struggling. Hurts completed 5 of 12 passes for 109 yards in the Eagles’ 30-16 loss.

Hurts then started the final four games of the season despite not seeing anywhere near the MVP form he’s displayed this year. During that stretch, the Eagles went 1-3 with Hurts completing 51.9% of his passes for 919 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions.

After trading Wentz, the Eagles refrained from bringing in an established, experienced starter to challenge Wentz, though they traded to Gardner Minshew just before the 2021 season. Minshew had started 20 games for the ailing Jacksonville Jaguars during the 2019 and 2020 seasons, but the team decided rookie Trevor Lawrence would start last year, making Minshew expendable.

Still, Minshew didn’t do much in Philadelphia and remains Hurts’ backup.

A full-time starter for the first time last season, Hurts completed 61.3% of his passes for 3,144 yards, 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions and rushed for 784 yards and 10 touchdowns. But the season ended on a sour note as the Eagles lost 31-15 in the first round of the playoffs to the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hurts went just 23 of 43 and threw two interceptions in his first playoff game.

Hurts will look to avenge that loss starting next month, when the Eagles likely go into the postseason in a much better position. With four regular-season games remaining, the Eagles have a two-game lead over the second-best NFC teams (the 10-2 Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings), leaving Philadelphia in good shape for the top collection, a bye and a home field to achieve advantage.

Sticking with Hurts and trading Wentz, one of the best in the league in recent years, seems like a smart move for the Eagles. Not only is Hurts an MVP leader and Wentz struggling with the Washington Commanders, the Eagles have also used picks received in the Wentz trade to draft receiver DeVonta Smith and win receiver AJ Brown. Smith (66 catches, 775 yards and 5 touchdowns) and Brown (65 receptions, 1,020 yards and 10 touchdowns) are Philadelphia’s second-best receivers.

Hurts, who turned 24 in August, has one year left on the four-year contract he signed after the 2020 draft, allowing him to become a full free agent after the 2023 season if the Eagles don’t sign him before then. He has a cap hit of just over $1.6 million and is the 52nd highest-paid quarterback in the league, according to Spotrac, making him perhaps the NFL’s biggest bargain.

NBC’s Mike Florio pointed out this week that teams can sign draft picks for long-term renewals after completing the player’s third regular season. He speculated that the Eagles could sign Hurts in the gap between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs, although he noted that no team has done so yet.

Regardless, Hurts is in line for a big contract. For example, Spotrac calculates his market value at $45.7 million per year, the fifth-highest mark in the NFL and more than $44 million higher than his current contract. It’s just another reminder of how far Hurts has come and how smart the Eagles look building around him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button