JACKSONVILLE – Nick Foles wasn’t lobbying. He made that clear.
But the new Jaguars quarterback also made clear this week he understands the importance of a position maybe believe could be a focus for the team in the 2019 NFL Draft.
That position: tight end.
“Tight end in this league right now is so important,” Foles said Tuesday when speaking to the media on the second day of the Jaguars’ 2019 offseason program.
Foles in mid-March signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent after two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. New Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo was the quarterbacks coach in 2016-2017 with the Eagles, whose offense depended heavily during that period on tight ends such as Zach Ertz.
Foles mentioned Ertz when discussing tight ends this week, also making sure to mention past tight-end teammates such as Travis Kelce (Kansas City, 2016), Dallas Goedert (Philadelphia, 2018) and Brent Celek (Philadelphia, 2012-2014, 2017).
“I’m trying to get those guys’ names out just in case because I will get messages and they will get mad at me,” Foles said with a laugh.
But Foles wasn’t joking when discussing the position.
“It’s really important,” he said. “You have to be able to run the ball with the tight end in the game, but they also have to be able to go out and catch the ball. It’s very hard to find guys that are good at both, but a key to a great offense is you really do need a good tight end.”
The Jaguars long have been without an elite player at the position, and the area struggled last season – particularly after placing Austin Seferian-Jenkins on injured reserve following Week 5. The Jaguars signed tight end Geoff Swaim from Dallas as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, also re-signing veteran James O’Shaughnessy – a teammate of Foles’ in 2016 in Kansas City. Other tight ends on the roster: Ben Koyack and Pharoah McKever.
Many draft analysts have projected the Jaguars selecting a tight end early in the 2019 NFL Draft, which is considered unusually deep at the position. Foles was asked if he might hint with the Jaguars’ decision-makers about addressing the position in the draft.
“They’re going to make the best decision for this team and what this team needs,” Foles said. “The guys we have here, I’m getting to know them. I haven’t had an opportunity to throw with them yet. I was with O’Shaughnessy in Kansas City, so there are a couple familiar faces. I’m going to let them make their decision, and I’m going to do what I have to do in the locker room.”
JUST PLAY, PAL
Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue reported to the offseason program early this week, a move that some considered notable considering Ngakoue – a 2016 third-round selection – is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell was asked his week if he has spoken to his younger teammate about playing in a so-called “contract year.” “Yes, we talk about it a little bit,” Campbell said. “At the end of the day, you play ball and the rest of it will take care of itself. You get the best agents and there is a business side of things that will take care of itself. But the biggest thing that a person like Yannick going into a contract year can do is just play good ball. Come in, be the best ballplayer he can be and the rest of it will take care of itself. This business is kind of simple. Your agent will handle all that tough stuff for you. You just have to put the right people in place, employ them and then just play ball. The rest will take care of itself.”
“It seems like every year I get more and more excited coming into the offseason program – to spring ball. I guess as you get a little older you kind of appreciate these moments, the opportunity to develop the chemistry.”
“It’ll be crazy. I’ll be excited to go out there and compete against them with these guys. This is my home now. I couldn’t be more excited. Philadelphia knows how much I will always love them. I don’t have to lie about that. My wife and I are grateful to be here and excited to be here for a long time, but it takes a lot of work and ultimately going out there and winning games. It will be fun to compete against Philadelphia.”
--Foles on playing his former team, the Eagles, in 2019 Preseason Game 2