Ea­gles sign quar ter­back Hack­en­berg

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - SPORTS - BY BOB GLAUBER

PHILADEL­PHIA — The cu­ri­ous case of Chris­tian Hack­en­berg took an­other un­usual turn Sun­day, as the for­mer Jets’ sec­ond-round bust will get his next chance at stat­ing his case an NFL quar­ter­back with a de­cid­edly un­ex­pected team: The de­fend­ing Su­per Bowl cham­pion Ea­gles.

But it re­mains to be seen how long Hack­en­berg will ac­tu­ally re­main in Philadel­phia.

The Ea­gles al­ready have three quar­ter­backs on the ros­ter, in­clud­ing No. 2 over­all pick Car­son Wentz, Su­per Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles and third-stringer Nick Sud­feld. So this will likely be noth­ing more than a chance for Hack­en­berg to get in some prac­tice throws in train­ing camp be­fore the Ea­gles send him pack­ing be­fore the start of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

But at least Hack­en­berg signed some­where other than wait­ing at home for a call from an NFL team. Af­ter fail­ing to get into a sin­gle game dur­ing his two sea­sons with the Jets in 2016 and 2017, Hack­en­berg was traded to the Raiders in May for a con­di­tional sev­enth-round pick.

Why the Raiders? Well, coach Jon Gru­den, who was an ESPN an­a­lyst when Hack­en­berg was drafted out of Penn State in 2016, had con­sid­ered him a first-round tal­ent the year he came into the NFL. So he gave up a con­di­tional sev­enth-round pick to the Jets to get Hack­en­berg. But even Gru­den re­al­ized early on that he couldn’t do any­thing to jump­start the quar­ter­back’s ca­reer. Three weeks af­ter the trade and more than a month be­fore the start of train­ing camp, Gru­den re­leased Hack­en­berg and the Raiders got back their sev­enth-round pick.

There’s lit­tle chance he sticks with the de­fend­ing champs and will likely serve as a train­ing camp arm to give Wentz and Foles some re­lief from the prac­tice grind. But if Hack­en­berg

needed a good land­ing spot, then this was it. Head coach Doug Ped­er­son has al­ready shown him­self as one of the league’s best quar­ter­back coaches, and his work with Wentz and Foles has been splen­did.

The Ea­gles don’t win a Su­per Bowl un­less they got ex­cel­lent play from both quar­ter­backs last sea­son, and that was ex­actly the case. With Wentz en­joy­ing a break­out sea­son in his sec­ond year, he guided the Ea­gles to an 11-2 record be­fore suf­fer­ing a sea­son-end­ing knee in­jury. Foles, who had pre­vi­ously con­sid­ered re­tir­ing from foot­ball, did a mag­nif­i­cent job in re­lief as he led the Ea­gles to their first Su­per Bowl cham­pi­onship. He capped off a re­mark­able play­off run by out­du­el­ing Tom Brady in a 41-33 thriller in Min­neapo­lis.

The Ea­gles have de­clared Wentz the starter go­ing into this sea­son, but Ped­er­son is be­ing care­ful with get­ting him back into con­tact drills. And Foles re­cently com­plained of spasms in the right side of his neck. Thus, the Hack­en­berg sign­ing is al­most cer­tainly out of an abun­dance of cau­tion.

Hack­en­berg’s fail­ure to de­velop with the Jets is one of the fac­tors that ul­ti­mately led them to where they are to­day: brim­ming with op­ti­mism about their cur­rent cast of quar­ter­backs. Vet­eran Josh McCown took ad­van­tage of poor play from Hack­en­berg and fel­low backup Bryce Petty to claim the start­ing job last sea­son, and he did a cred­i­ble enough job to be asked back as the starter in 2018.

But gen­eral man­ager Mike Maccagnan pulled off a ma­jor coup by trad­ing up from No. 6 over­all to No. 3, and af­ter the Browns took Ok­la­homa quar­ter­back Baker May­field with the first pick and the Gi­ants went run­ning back with Saquon Barkley at No. 2, Maccagnan got prized USC quar­ter­back Sam Darnold with the third pick. Not only that, but Maccagnan signed for­mer Vik­ings first-round quar­ter­back Teddy Bridge­wa­ter.

Both Darnold and Bridge­wa­ter looked ter­rific in Fri­day night’s pre­sea­son opener against the Fal­cons, and Jets coach Todd Bowles ac­knowl­edged af­ter­ward that it’s a very good prob­lem to have in de­cid­ing which quar­ter­back will go into the sea­son as the starter. McCown won the job by de­fault last year, but now the Jets might go with Darnold the same way the Ea­gles anointed Wentz the Day 1 starter in his rookie sea­son in 2016.

It’s a stag­ger­ing turn of events from the time the Jets had viewed Hack­en­berg as their quar­ter­back of the fu­ture. But rather than turn into a big-time passer, Hack­en­berg did noth­ing to con­vince his coaches he de­served to be on the field.

As­so­ci­ated press

For­mer New York Jets quar­ter­back Chris­tian Hack­en­berg signed with the Philadel­phia Ea­gles on Sun­day.

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