There have been multiple reports since the end of Super Bowl 51 that the Philadelphia Eagles are looking to spend big in free agency. Players such as Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Logan Ryan are among players that have been rumored to have the Eagles’ interest but with only $6.5 million in available salary cap space the Eagles will have to shed some contracts in order to pursue just one of these players. With rumors that the Eagles have already asked Jason Peters to take a pay cut the recent release of corner back Leodis McKelvin, these rumors and reports are beginning to gain steam. So who else could the Eagles move on from?
OT Jason Peters
Jason Peters will make the most money on the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017 and has a staggering $11.2 million cap hit. With a base salary of $9,950,000, if he is released it will only cost the team $2 million, saving the eagles $9.2 million. His cap hit is ranked the eight highest among offensive tackles in the NFL. The 35-year-old played 1,100 snaps, the second highest snap total in the last four years (he played 1,145 snaps in 2013). Last year 33-year-old Donald Penn signed a 2 year, $14 million deal to stay with the Oakland Raiders so if Peters does hit the open market he might see a similar contract, even at 35 years old. If the Eagles convey Peter’s base salary to a minimum, he would make $6,725,000 this year, saving the Eagles $4,475,000. If Peters refuses to take a pay cut except Lane Johnson to be the starting left tackle in 2017.
OLB/DE Connor Barwin
Connor Barwin enters the 2017 season with a $8,350,000 cap hit, ranking fifth on the team. If turns out to be a salary cap causality, his cap hit drops to only $600,000 in dead money due to his $3 million signing bonus that was spread out over four years. Barwin’s base salary in 2018 is $9,250,000 in base salary and his $1 million roster bonus will bump up his salary cap hit to over $10 million before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2019. Barwin has expressed interest in staying in Philadelphia and has said he is willing to restructure his contract but his play really declined in 2016. The 3-4 outside linebacker made the switch to 4-3 defensive end and since signing with the Eagles in 2013 he saw lows in snaps, tackles, and sacks. If Barwin and the Eagles decide to restructure the 30-year-old’s contract to the minimum, he will still make almost $5 million, which still doesn’t seem plausible based on his play. With him no longer fitting the defensive scheme I think we have seen the last of Connor Barwin as an Eagle.
RB Ryan Mathews
What seems like a no-brainer, the often injured running back will probably not be back with the Eagles next year. Mathews will cost Eagles $5 million in 2017, and if the Eagles decide to cut him, it will only cost the Eagles $1 million in dead money. Mathews had his best year since 2013, rushing for 661 yards and a career high eight rushing touchdowns in 13 games, but he finished the season on the Injured Reserve thanks to a neck injury that required surgery. With Mathews scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 combined with the emergence of Byron Marshall and the play of Wendell Smallwood, I will be shocked if Ryan Mathews is on the team at the start of training camp, especially considering Marshall and Smallwood will only cost the Eagles $1,141,444 for next season.
C Jason Kelce
Jason Kelce’s cap hit for the 2017 season will be $6.2 million and the Eagles will only have to eat $2.4 million next season if Kelce is released. The Pro Bowl center improved his play on the field from last season but he did continue to struggle against bigger defensive tackles. However all signs are pointing to the 29-year-old likely being the starting center on the Eagles in 2017. First off, Philadelphia doesn’t have a starting caliber center on the roster and his cap hit is ranked tenth among centers. Secondly I would be surprised if Howie Roseman decides to remove both Peters and Kelce with Wentz entering his second NFL season and first full NFL offseason. The following year, however, is a completely different story. Scheduled to earn $7,200,000 in 2018, the Eagles could save six million dollars next year against the cap compared to only $3.8 million this year if they decide to move on from Kelce in 2017.
The Pro Bowl running back is set to make $4 million in the final year of his contract but if he is released the Eagles won’t have to pay any dead money and will save all of the $4 million since there is no type of bonuses due. SproIes’ cap number is ranked 15th among running backs in the NFL despite not being an every down back. With him already coming out and saying he is looking to retire after the 2017 season, I would be really surprised if the eighth ranked all-purpose yards in NFL history player spends his final year somewhere else than Philadelphia.
WRs Dorial Green-Beckham and Bryce Treggs
Dorial Green-Beckham is scheduled to make $944,418 and Bryce Treggs is scheduled to make $540,000 in 2017. Both players have been reportedly more interested in the “Philly night life” than improving as players. They combined for only 472 yards receiving yards and two touchdowns last season. To put that in prospective running back Darren Sproles had 427 yards receiving and two receiving touchdowns in 2016. If DGB and Treggs are cut it would save the Eagles $1,484,418, however, with both players being under 24-years-old, I don’t see this as a feasible option to happen before the season. Both players will have to make the team out of training camp and unlike Nelson Agholor it won’t cost the eagles a penny to send them packing.
DE Vinny Curry
Having signed a 5 years / $47,250,000 contract in 2016, Vinny Curry was one of the most disappointing players of 2016 season. The 4-3 defensive end was expected to excel when the Eagles transformed from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense in 2016 but that just didn’t happen. Despite recording the highest snap count of his career, Curry produced a career low 2.5 sacks. The 2012 second round draft pick still has a lot of talent and hopefully last year will be an outlier in his career but if the Eagles are looking to save money by removing the fourth highest cap hit on the team it will have to be traded instead of cut. If released this year his $9 million cap hit will become a $15 million cap hit due to the $23 million dollars he is owed in guaranteed money. He will cost the eagles over $11 million the next three years and paying a defensive lineman 11 million dollars a year who can’t get to the quarterback just doesn’t make sense. If a trade is not an option for the 28-year-old and Curry doesn’t improve in the 2017 season, then look for the Eagles to move on from Curry in 2018 when they will only have a $6 million cap hit instead of an $11 million cap hit.
QB Chase Daniel
The backup quarterback enters 2017 with the sixth highest salary cap hit on the Eagles, who have to pay him a whopping $8 million. His cap hit is ranked 25th among quarterbacks and if Daniel is cut it’s a $7 million cap hit, so eagles will only save one million dollars. With him being beloved by head coach Doug Pederson and a mentor to Carson Wentz, there is good chance he will remain with the Eagles this season. However look for the Eagles to part ways with him in 2018. Daniel will again carry an $8 million cap hit but if cut, it will only cost Philly $1,000,000 in dead cap space.
ILB Mychal Kendricks
With a $6.6 million cap hit and him voicing his opinion about his playing time, there are already reports that Kendricks is on the trade block. The five-year veteran is only 26 and if released it will cost eagles the Eagles 4.8 million dollars against the cap. After the 2017 season his base salary continues to increase as he is scheduled to make $7.6 million in 2018 and $8.6 million in 2019 before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2020. Kendricks is young, athletic, can still play at a high level and will draw interests from many teams. Look for eagles to make a move soon, since $4,350,000 of his 2017 salary becomes fully guaranteed on March 11, 2017. He played in 15 games last year, started in eight of those games, but yet played less than 27% of the defensive snaps. He finished the season with 31 tackles and was unable to record a sack, forced fumble or interception, all of which were career lows. In 2015 he played and started in 13 games where he recorded 86 tackles, 3 sacks, and forced one fumble.
TE Brent Celek
Brent Celek’s five-million-dollar cap hit will turn into a four-million-dollar cap hit if released, thanks to $2 million of his salary being fully guaranteed in 2017. However, if any team would like the 10-year veteran’s services, he will only cost a team one million dollars if he is cut in 2018 instead of the $5 million he is scheduled to make that year. I would be surprised if eagles go this route since the organization loves Celek, but if they are looking to shed a lot of money this year the backup TE could be on another team next year. Last season marked the first time in his career that he failed to reach 160 receiving yards and record a touchdown and those numbers aren’t good for the 16th highest paid tight end in the NFL
If the Eagles cut the players listed above and trade all the players mentioned for draft picks, the team would save an estimate $42,034,418 and will have an estimate $48,557,418 in available cap space when the new season officially starts on March 9. Then the idea of signing a true number one wide receiver and number one cornerback seems a lot more plausible. Either way it will be fun to watch how Howie Roseman and the Eagles attack the free agent market.
Photo: Mr. Schultz (via: Wikimedia Commons)