Jalen Hurts considers every game a chance to prove his worth, to the Philadelphia Eagles and every team that passed on the quarterback in his past.
Hurts, 16-1 this season and set to enter the final season of his contract in 2023, has already done more than enough to convince Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie that the former Alabama and Oklahoma quarterback is worth the investment.
“I don’t think he has anything to prove. He is an MVP-caliber quarterback, an incredible leader of the team on the field, off the field. He’s 24 years old, incredibly mature and, most importantly, driven to be even better,” Lurie said at Super Bowl LVII Opening Night on Monday. “What we’re seeing today I think is just the beginning for Jalen. This guy will attack every weakness as he has since high school, since college. The future is bright and very exciting for all of us.”
Hurts said he would consider his contract “later on” and wanted to keep the focus on the Eagles and the work he and the team put in to get to Glendale, Ariz., where the Kansas City Chiefs stand in the franchise’s way.
“We’ll kind of handle that later on,” Hurts said.
Every NFL team passed on Hurts at least once in the 2020 NFL Draft, which featured three quarterbacks among the top six selections — Joe Burrow (Bengals), Tua Tagovailoa (Dolphins) and Justin Herbert (Chargers). The Packers drafted Jordan Love 26th, 27 picks before Hurts was chosen.
When the Eagles drafted Hurts, it was on the heels of signing former first-round pick Carson Wentz to a four-year, $128 million extension. In 2021, general manager Howie Roseman made the call to move on from Wentz, trading him to the Indianapolis Colts to clear a path for Hurts.
Even when the Eagles went 9-8 last season and support for Hurts was far from unanimous, Roseman said at his season-ending press conference that Hurts had earned the No. 1 job for 2022.
A roster-building strategy of surrounding young quarterbacks with great talent while they are still relatively cheap — Hurts is owed $4.2 million in 2023, when Deshaun Watson (Browns), Dak Prescott (Cowboys) and Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) have ’23 salary cap numbers over $48 million — isn’t new or novel. But the Eagles took advantage. Since drafting Hurts, the Eagles have also traded for Lions cornerback Darius Slay, Saints safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown. Before the trade deadline in October 2022, Roseman acquired defensive end Robert Quinn from the Bears.
Quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson said that plan was part of the franchise commitment to Hurts catapulting forward in 2022. Johnson said expectations have not been exceeded, but met in Hurts’ 35-TD season.
“You could tell right away,” Johnson said. “Jalen has always been very intentional and we were very, very intentional with what we wanted to improve coming into this season and he took that to heart. The way he works, and the way he is as a person, it’s not a surprise at all.”