As the league year comes to a close, players are eagerly looking forward to upcoming bonuses and paydays. General managers and executives are dreading the day players earn extra cash, as salary cap flexibility goes right out the window. In the NFL, the “Not For Long” industry, teams have the option to cut veteran players who may be earning above their worth, allowing them to save space under the salary cap.
As the old saying goes: “One man’s trash is the other man’s treasure.” For the Eagles, a few proven veterans could be released by their current teams, and could provide a solid upgrade at a position of need.
One of these reinforcements may already have hit the open market. With Ndamukong Suh awaiting a contract paying him his weight in gold, the Detroit Lions knew they would be severely limited financially if they kept status quo. Running back Reggie Bush was sacrificed for more flexibility, as the Lions saved $1.7 million in cap space by cutting the former Saint. At 30 years of age, Bush has seen a significant decline in production, recording a mere 297 rushing yards in 11 games played.
With Bush, the Eagles would pose a lethal backfield capable of beating opponents on the ground or through the air. The trio of McCoy, Sproles, and Bush could line up as receivers or running backs, and would provide a matchup nightmare for opposing linebackers in the passing game. If Bush can be had for cheap—a running back of his age shouldn’t command too high of a salary—the Eagles should certainly make a run at him.
Dolphins’ wide receiver Mike Wallace could be on the chopping block, as Miami has less than $3 million to spend. Wallace experienced slight drops in production from 2013, when Dolphins fans were calling for his release after a poor campaign. For a player set to earn over $9 million in 2015, 67 catches for a mere 862 yards falls short of expectation.
If Miami lets go of Wallace, the Dolphins will be saving $5.4 million under the cap, which is enough to afford a mid-level starter. The Dolphins could add a receiver in the early rounds of the draft, and could use the extra money to address other positions of need.
For the Eagles, Wallace may provide the necessary deep threat to relieve stress from their run-based offense. Wallace averaged over 16 yards per catch in each of his first three seasons. Still only 28, the former Steeler has yet to lose a step in speed, and his 6 ft, 200 lbs frame would allow him to physically outplay defensive backs during deep routes, giving the offense a safety valve when the running game isn’t working.
The Eagles experienced a Cowboy-like December collapse in 2014, mainly due to chronic problems in covering the deep pass. The Philadelphia secondary seemed nonexistent when Dez Bryant and DeSean Jackson ended the Eagles playoff hopes by their own accords. Ravens’ cornerback Ladarius Webb could provide much needed help on the back end. If the Ravens cut Webb, they would save $2 million in cap space. The Ravens only have just over $3 million free, so a move like this could benefit them greatly, especially in a deep cornerback draft. Webb could provide a solid piece to a secondary marred in mediocrity.
The Eagles could find diamonds in the rough during this free agency period. One only hopes Chip Kelly and Ed Marynowitz get their metal detector out.
Photo: Fox Sports