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What a Nick Foles contract extension with the Rams could look like

Based on what current quarterbacks are getting, Nick Foles could expect between $12 million and $14 million per season. AP Images/Michael Thomas

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams have made no secret of their interest in getting a contract extension done with quarterback Nick Foles sooner than later.

Whether you agree or disagree with that intent is really not important at this point. To that end, I've already covered why the Rams' desire to make such a move makes sense and offered some reasons why it wouldn't. ESPN Insider Field Yates also offered some thoughts on the pros and cons of such a deal.

So there's plenty to chew on there in evaluating the Rams' efforts to get something done. With that in mind, let's move past that debate and focus on what Foles might cost moving forward.

As both Yates and I wrote, part of the reason the Rams might have interest in signing Foles now before he plays for the team is the idea that they could get him at something of a bargain. Foles is coming off an injury-plagued season in which his numbers dropped dramatically from his 2013 output. That means a potential contract would be based on a body of work with one excellent year and one so-so year that included an injury. Trying to find comparable quarterbacks with similar career performance is difficult. But what we can do is find players who have achieved about as much as Foles from a team standpoint. Cincinnati's Andy Dalton would be a good jumping-off point. Dalton has led the Bengals to the playoffs four times but has yet to win a postseason game. Dalton signed a six-year deal averaging $16 million per year in 2014 but that deal isn't nearly as daunting as it might look. Dalton received only $17 million in fully guaranteed money, all of which has already been paid out. Now, the Bengals have Dalton under contract at relatively large numbers moving forward but he's essentially operating on a year-to-year basis. For the Rams, following a similar path with Foles -- paying a good chunk up front and then going essentially year-to-year after -- would make a lot of sense.

Another way of looking at Foles' next deal is to examine his role in an offense that figures to be run-heavy and that won't ask him to throw the ball 40 times a game. Kansas City's Alex Smith might offer a fair comparison here. Smith signed a bigger deal than Dalton, garnering a four-year deal averaging $18 million per season with a guarantee of $45 million. But again, that guarantee is a bit misleading. Smith got an $18 million signing bonus up front and his $11 million base salary in 2015 is guaranteed. Beyond that, his $14 million base salary in 2016 is guaranteed only for injury (or if he's still on the roster on the fifth day of the 2016 league year). So after this season, the Chiefs could theoretically part ways with Smith and only owe the remainder of his prorated signing bonus for the rest of his deal against the cap. It seems unlikely the Rams would want to go as high as Smith's deal on a per-year basis but the structure would again make sense in terms of paying a big chunk upfront and then having flexibility beyond the first season or two.

All told, it's unclear how far the Rams are willing to extend themselves for a deal with Foles. Likewise, it's unclear whether Foles will want to sign a deal. For his part, Foles has already said he'd like to stay in St. Louis but he's also made it clear that business matters will be left to his agent. That makes finding a middle ground a bit more difficult, but looking at the going-rate for a quarterback in the NFL now should offer a reasonable guideline for what a contract might look like. The guess here is that something like a four-year deal worth an average of somewhere between $12 million and $14 million per season with about $20 million in "true" guarantees paid out in the first year or two would make sense for both sides. It would lock Foles in while offering him another bite at the apple in a few years and allow the Rams flexibility moving forward to sign their many other players scheduled to hit the open market.