With the head coaching search wrapped up as well as the rest of the staff mostly squared away, the next time the Eagles will make any kind of significant move will be March 17th, which marks the beginning of a new NFL year and the start of free agency.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, Howie Roseman has concocted the second-worst financial situation in the league, sitting at close to $51.5 million above the cap limit. Only the Saints are in greater debt at almost -$105 million.
Ironically, Roseman is one of the few people amongst NFL executives that would be able to get this team below the salary cap, as he has a very good understanding of how to adjust and manipulate contracts.
Getting Out of Debt
So far, Roseman has already produced an extra $12 million dollars by restructuring the contracts of Alshon Jeffery and Malik Jackson. This allows for their cap hit to be spread out amongst the remaining years of their contracts, although both are expected to be let go in the coming off-season. If they are cut post-June 1, they’d help save the team a total of $4.2 million. Other veterans that will most likely be cut in the offseason include DeSean Jackson and Marquise Goodwin. Letting go of the two of them would result in about $9 million saved.
Then there’s Zach Ertz, who’s reportedly set to be traded in the offseason, due to conflict about his contract extension. If he is unfortunately traded, it would provide a relief of another $4.7 million. All of those moves total to about $17.9 million, bringing down the team’s debt to -$33.6 million.
This is where Howie needs to get creative and work his magic to give the Eagles enough money to sign any free agents at all. The team’s five largest cap hits reside within the contracts of Carson Wentz, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Lane Johnson, and Darius Slay. Roseman will have to move around large amounts of money if the team wants any chance at all to outsource talent.
Pending Free Agents
The Eagles also have a rather long list of pending free agents that won’t be able to return if the front office can’t right the cap space ship.
In total, there are 18 Eagles that are set to hit free agency, including the likes of:
- Jalen Mills
- Cre’Von LeBlanc
- Richard Rodgers, etc.
Amongst those 18, five can be tendered as restricted/exclusive rights free agents, in Cameron Johnston, Josh Perkins, Boston Scott, Greg Ward, and Alex Singleton.
The team will likely tender most if not all of them, as they have had decent success and won’t be of much damage to the Eagles’ financial situation.
Outside Free Agents
Hypothetically, if the Eagles can create a decent amount of cash for spending, there are numerous free agents that would be realistic and attainable for the Birds. Their number one target should be Indianapolis Colts cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Having spent his first seven seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, Rhodes came to the Colts, where he was reunited with cornerbacks coach, and now Eagles defensive coordinator, Jonathan Gannon.
Rhodes and Gannon had previously spent four years together in Minnesota, during which Rhodes was a two-time pro bowler. In their latest stint together, Rhodes allowed 563 yards, a passer rating of 84.5, forced two interceptions including a pick-six, defended 12 passes, and totaled 42 tackles. It was his best season since 2017. Spotrac values Rhodes to be worth a 2-year, $14.7 million contract, which would be perfect for a team like the Eagles. He’d have familiarity with the system, would help Darius Slay in the secondary, and won’t put too much of a burden on the cap space.
Another cheap, yet impactful signing the Eagles could make is Detroit Lions Strong Safety Duron Harmon. While Harmon is coming off of his worst year as a pro, it was under Ex-Lions defensive coordinator Corey Undlin who coached a historically bad defense and secondary.
In his time with the New England Patriots, however, Harmon was well above average as a safety. In his last year with the Patriots, Harmon allowed 118 yards, a passer rating of 39.7, forced two interceptions, defended five passes, and totaled 22 tackles.
In a new and hopefully strong system such as Gannon’s, Harmon may be able to thrive.
The Eagles also might lose safety Jalen Mills to free agency and may not have Rodney McLeod to start the season with him recovering from his ACL injury, so signing a safety is a must.
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