PHILADELPHIA — Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has instructed the team to prioritize making Jalen Hurts successful in 2021 as opposed to creating a true quarterback competition, sources tell ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.
Hurts is currently the only quarterback under contract in Philadelphia. More quarterbacks will be added, but Lurie wants his staff to build around Hurts and determine whether he is the answer moving forward, the sources said.
“I think it was just an opportunity for me,” Hurts said in his first public comments since the trade, when asked whether he was surprised when he heard the Wentz news. “I think it shows the trust and what they think I can be as a player, so I wanna prove them right.”
Philadelphia agreed to trade Wentz to Indianapolis last month for a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional 2022 second-rounder that can turn into a first-round pick. The transaction will become official when the league year begins on March 17.
The relationship between Wentz and the Eagles became strained during a rocky 2020 season in which Wentz struggled badly before being replaced by Hurts, the team’s second-round pick last April, for the final four games. Once it became clear Wentz preferred to continue his career elsewhere, the wheels were set in motion to deal him.
One of the reasons Philadelphia felt comfortable trading Wentz was the presence of Hurts, who gave the offense a spark when he was inserted into the lineup and helped engineer an upset victory against the New Orleans Saints in his first career start. Hurts cooled off some down the stretch and finished with a 52% completion rate and six touchdowns to four interceptions while rushing for 354 yards and three scores.
The Eagles will add to the position in free agency and/or the draft, but as it stands, Hurts enters the 2021 season as the presumed starter.
“I think, you know, nothing changes for me and my mindset, going in every day trying to get better as a player,” he said. “Be the best leader I can be. Impact the guys around me, and ultimately it’s just about winning football games and being consistent and doing that, so my mentality, it doesn’t alter not one bit.”
The Eagles hold the No. 6 overall pick in the draft and could be in the market for a receiver. Two of the top wideouts in the draft class, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith, were teammates of Hurts at Alabama.
“I just saw something about Waddle saying he’s different … and he is different. You know he’s a heck of a player, a great friend of mine, a little brother to me,” Hurts said. “I mean, the things he can do with the ball in his hands, his speed, athleticism, there’s not anything he can’t do. And DeVonta Smith is like a smooth criminal … such a smooth route runner, attacks the ball, strong hands … he’s so strong with his hands. He’s a hell of a player himself.”