Foles bought out his contract with Philadelphia but didn't know where he would be in 2019 until the Jacksonville Jaguars offered him an $88 million contract. Minshew had no idea when, or if, he'd be drafted until the Jaguars nabbed him in the sixth round.
The two quarterbacks know where they'll be in 2020, so they're at least one step ahead of where they were last January. Beyond that, it's going to be a while before the team commits to one or the other as the starter.
"I think we have two that I know about right now and I really feel comfortable with them," Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. "I think it's something that we have to use in our favor. In the past, there have been situations where we haven't had many or maybe I've just had one. I've never had two. We've got to do a heck of a job making sure we're getting both guys ready."
This is certainly not what Foles expected when he signed a contract with the Jaguars last March that guaranteed him a franchise-record $50.125 million. After two years of backing up Carson Wentz and subbing in to lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl championship after the 2017 season, Foles anticipated he'd be preparing for playoff games after a successful full season as a starter.
He didn't think he would be fighting for his job after getting benched because the offense was at times nonfunctional.
"I don't know what my future holds," Foles said. "I'm sure we'll find out in the next couple months, but I'm not going to worry about it. I'm just going to continue being me. A broken record, but there's a lot of things that I'm going to learn from looking back from this year. I was journaling throughout the whole process, so I got this beautiful journal that I haven't had the time to go back and look at everything I've learned, everything I've gone through. There's always nuggets in there that I'll be grateful for, years down the road.
"I don't know what my future holds, but I ultimately know that I'm going to continue to grow as a human being throughout it."
Foles was impressive during the offseason and training camp but played minimally in the preseason as part of Marrone's effort to keep key players healthy. However, he suffered a broken collarbone 11 snaps into the season opener and missed the next eight games.
He didn't play well in his return. The Jaguars managed only 13 points in a 20-point loss at Indianapolis (the Colts rushed for 264 yards) and scored only three points in the first half of their next two games (at Tennessee and against Tampa Bay). Foles was particularly bad against the Bucs, turning the ball over on the Jaguars' first three drives -- the first QB to do that since Chicago's Mike Glennon in 2017 -- and posting three consecutive three-and-outs after those turnovers.
That's when Marrone benched him for Minshew.
It's not the first time Foles has lost his job because of poor play. It happened in 2015 with the St. Louis Rams, and Foles admitted he contemplated retiring after that season. The chance to play for Andy Reid -- who drafted him in 2012 in Philadelphia -- in Kansas City was one of the things that changed his mind.
Even though he called the 2019 season "10 times as hard as St. Louis," Foles said he hasn't considered retiring.
"I know people will go there. It took me several months of sort of going through an eval, trying to figure out what I wanted to do until I had a moment where I prayed about what I needed to do and it was ultimately getting back in football, facing my fear," Foles said. "Fortunately, the good Lord's allowed me to go through that before, so I pulled from my St. Louis year this year different things that I did, and the one thing I know is I look forward to whatever happens, continuing to grow as a human being, player, excelling and ultimately coming out slinging.
"I know I can still play. There's people out there that believe in me and I know what I can do. I've shown what I can do, so I look forward to what the future holds. Obviously getting away, refreshing myself, getting ready to roll. I'll be ready to fire away."
It's almost a certainty that Foles will be on the roster next season. It would cost the Jaguars $33.875 million in dead money to cut him and they wouldn't get any post-June 1 relief from cutting or trading him if there's no new collective bargaining agreement in place by March 1. So the Jaguars could potentially be paying their backup quarterback $22 million in 2020.
That's if Minshew wins the job, and the sixth-round pick out of Washington State is planning on it. After throwing for 3,271 yards and 21 touchdowns with six interceptions and leading the Jaguars to their six victories, Minshew says he believes he has proved he can be a long-term starter.
"I know what I am," he said. "I know I am going to be a great quarterback in this league. I think we are going to build something great here."
If Minshew had been a first-round pick, there probably wouldn't be a question that he would be the Jaguars' starter going forward. Consider that he had a better passer rating than sixth overall pick Daniel Jones, threw more touchdown passes than No. 1 pick Kyler Murray in two fewer games, and threw half as many interceptions as both Jones and Murray. Most importantly, he won more games than Jones (three) and Murray (five).
The Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants aren't questioning the futures of Murray and Jones, but neither have another quarterback on the roster who is making big money as the presumed starter, either. And while evaluations are based on more than statistics, there is certainly something intriguing about Minshew's potential.
He might have to beat out Foles to prove it, though.
"I know I am going to go home [and] I am going to work really hard," Minshew said. "I know Nick is going to go home and work really hard. We are both going to show up and do the best we can for this team. And however that shakes out, it is going to shake out."