Since the NFL new year started and free agency began, the Philadelphia Eagles have been one of the more active teams in the entire league. They've definitely looked to bolster their roster for the 2024 season by adding running back Saquon Barkley, linebacker Devin White, and cornerback CJ Gardner-Johnson, just to name a few. But they also made a surprising trade for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett, who looks to be the backup to starting quarterback Jalen Hurts.

It wasn't necessarily surprising that Pickett was put on the trade block at all; it was him going to the Eagles that was surprising. Most suspected after Russell Wilson signed with the Steelers that Pickett could be traded. Then, after word got out about Pickett's attitude toward the whole situation involving Wilson's signing, it made even more sense. But what do the Eagles gain from this?

Well, with journeyman quarterback Marcus Mariota once again on the move, this time to the Washington Commanders, it left the Eagles without a backup quarterback outside Tanner McKee. McKee was a sixth-round draft pick in the 2023 NFL Draft but didn't play a single snap last season for the Eagles. Philadelphia definitely needed a QB2 after Mariota's departure.

The Eagles needed a reliable backup for Jalen Hurts

As we saw a lot of last year, and even over the past couple of seasons, having a reliable QB2 is becoming essential. Seven starting quarterbacks, or 22 percent of the league's starters, suffered season-ending injuries in 2023, per Cydney Henderson at USA Today. That derailed the seasons of teams like the New York Jets, who lost Aaron Rodgers in Week 1 and were left with Zach Wilson as the backup. It could have done the same for the Cleveland Browns, who lost DeShaun Watson around midseason, but then Joe Flacco came in to surprisingly lead them to the playoffs.

With the style that Hurts plays, the Eagles have to hedge their bets and have a reliable backup quarterback should he go down. Though he never lost any time last season, starting in all 17 games, it became obvious as the season went on that Hurts wasn't always right physically. He was beat up. Some of that was probably due to the fact that he was the Eagles' second-leading rusher last season, running 157 times for 605 yards and 15 touchdowns.

The Eagles essentially went out and doubly protected Hurts now, since it seems that they want to continue to rely on their run game. They acquired another running back in Saquon Barkley from the New York Giants to replace D'Andre Swift, who left for the Chicago Bears. But also, Pickett, who could end up being not just one of the better backup quarterbacks in the league, but perhaps the most relied upon.

Jalen Hurts doesn't have to worry about Kenny Pickett taking his job

Jalen Hurts looking disappointed

Something catastrophic would have to happen for Jalen Hurts not to be the starting quarterback for the Eagles. At least, a five-year, $255 million deal that he signed during the last offseason would allude to that. However, as we've seen recently with Russell Wilson being cut by the Denver Broncos and them being willing to eat millions of dollars in the process, anything can happen in the NFL if you're not producing.

There's also the recent history of the Eagles organization moving from Carson Wentz. He signed a four-year extension worth $128 million back in 2019 before being traded to the Indianapolis Colts in 2021, making the Eagles eat $33.8 million in dead money.

Eagles fans likely haven't forgotten that time, nor the Super Bowl that Nick Foles, Wentz's backup then, led them to. But that doesn't seem to be the play here, at least not yet. Hurts still threw for over 3,800 yards last season, ran for over 600, and had 38 total touchdowns. His interceptions shot up to 15, though, the most of his NFL career, along with some other minor dips in his numbers. But still, this isn't the time to panic for either Eagles fans or Hurts. Again, Pickett is more of a “break in case of emergency” quarterback, not the soon-to-be starter.