Currently, the Eagles total cap figure for 2011 is just a shade under $98 million. This includes Michael Vick’s $16 million franchise tag and Akers’ $3 million unsigned transition tag. With the salary cap set at $120 million (123 million for 2011), the Eagles will roughly have $25 million worth of cap room. There are quite a few factors that will increase and decrease that number. With the lockout nearly over and free agency around the corner, you can bet the Eagles will work quickly and make some big moves. However, before the Eagles can pounce on the open market, they will have to settle things with some of their own players. The owners are scheduled to meet on July 21st. If all goes well that day and a new CBA is complete (fingers crossed), within the next 24 hours teams will be allowed a three day period to sign their own free agents. Let’s take a look at those Eagles who are now free agents...
Eagle Free Agents
Stewart Bradley(UFA) – A lot of us had high hopes for big Stu but he had another disappointing year with injury issues. In the past two years, he has missed a total of 20 games and has not shown the ability to stay healthy. Still, the guy can be a good starter when not dinged up and a decent chance he will be re-signed.
Quintin Mikell(UFA) – Q developed into a top five safety in the league. He defends the run and the pass well. Sadly, with the drafting of Jaiquawn Jarrett, he’s a goner. He will be 31 years old five days into the season and the Eagles don’t give large contracts to players in their 30’s. Mikell will get a nice contract, just not from the Eagles.
Jerome Harrison(UFA) – Harrison was an excellent trade for the Eagles. He ran for 239 yards in just 40 attempts and made the most of his opportunity with the Eagles. I will be very surprised if he doesn’t test free agency for a starting role.
Sav Rocca(UFA) – One year after everyone wanted him gone, Rocca proved us all wrong and had a fantastic year, finishing 8th in net punt avg with 39.0. I think he will be re-signed. Unless, they really trust Alex Henery to punt and kick for us.
Dimitri Patterson(UFA) – Dimitri had a great start to his career as starting RCB. He held Reggie Wayne in check vs the Colts. He picked off Mcnabb twice. Unfortunately, that’s where his good play ended. He was repeatedly bullied by opposing receivers and quarterbacks after that. You can’t hate the guy though. He wasn’t expected to contribute at the cornerback position at all prior to the season. He did what he could. He is unlikely to re-sign here due to the development of Trevard Lindley and the drafting of Curtis Marsh.
Max Jean-Gilles(UFA) – I have to say, I had high hopes for Max. After the dedication he showed with his weight loss, I thought he was going to be a very good guard for us. Well, he was not good but he wasn’t terrible either. Definitely a solid backup to have around. I think it’s likely he will be re-signed.
Ernie Sims(UFA) – He was terrible. Bye.
Omar Gaither(UFA) – See: Ernie Sims.
Akeem Jordan(UFA) – Although, he didn’t make it as a starting linebacker, he was our best special teams player and that might be enough to get him re-signed. Finished the year with 16 ST tackles, 71 blocks and totaling 258 points.
Eldra Buckley(RFA) – That brings us to our second best special teams player. He is restricted so he will be back.
Reggie Wells(UFA) – It was puzzling as to why he wasn’t used more often. He’s gone.
Ellis Hobbs(UFA) – Who knows if he will stay retired or come back. He won’t be back with the Eagles though. Performed well until he got undressed by Kenny Britt. More McDermott’s fault for leaving an injured Hobbs in there though.
Antoine Harris(UFA) – He didn’t even sniff the field. Goner.
Fortunately, not a very important list of players this year. Assuming Jarrett will be the real deal, we can live without all those players on our team. Although, it’s probable that at least a couple of those players will be re-signed. After re-signing our free agents, the Eagles should have a little less cap room for free agency. There are still a couple more things that will affect the cap.
Last year, the Eagles signed 13 rookies. Brandon Graham being the 13th pick received the largest contract. His cap figure for 2010 was $2.1 million. Nate Allen’s was $1.85 million. The rest of the players were between 400-600k. This year with the new rookie wage scale, salaries will be lower than before. I’m just going to keep the same values as last year to keep it simple. The Eagles drafted 11 players in the 2011 draft so let’s assume Watkins’ cap number will be $2.1 million like Graham’s, Jarrett’s will be $1.8 million like Allen’s and the rest of the nine players will be 500k. So, this year’s rookie class will account for roughly $8.5 million against the cap. Remember, the salary cap and the rookie pool are not the same. For a better understanding of how rookie pools work with the salary cap, read this by AdamJT13.
Trading Kevin Kolb
Kolb is accounting for $6.7 million of the cap this season. He is pretty much guaranteed to be traded so that should give us a boost in cap room (if traded for draft pick/s). After the cap room lost by re-signing free agents, trading Kolb should give us most or all of it back.
Vick's New Contract
It’s likely that Vick will get a new contract prior to the season. Vick’s franchise tag had a $16 million cap figure. That will most likely decrease to the $13 million range. So, if Vick gets a new deal prior to the Eagles signing players in the open market, it will give them a bit more wiggle room in free agency.
Akers' Transition Tag
His tag value is at $3 million. With the drafting of Alex Henery, Akers’ tag will most likely be rescinded and he will be an unrestricted free agent. It’s been a great run, David. Best of luck with your new team. This should give us a bit more cap room.
Andre Johnson is the highest paid wide receiver in football with a 7 year, $73.5 million contract. Desean Jackson is not on the same level as Andre Johnson so he will not get $10 million a year, regardless of how dangerous he is as a wideout and returner. He will probably get $7-8 million a year which will be a gigantic boost from the $565,000 in base salary he received last year. This should lessen the cap room quite a bit.
So, let’s do a little math...
Right now, the Eagles have about $25 million worth of cap room. After resigning their own free agents, let’s say that number drops to $17 million. After signing their rookies, it drops to $9 million. After trading Kolb(presumably for picks), it jumps up to $16 million. After Vick’s new contract, it goes up to $19 million. After rescinding Akers’ transition tag, it rises to $22 million. After Desean’s extension, it drops to about $15 million. That’s a pretty realistic projection. I think.
$25 million --> $17 million --> $9 million --> $16 million --> $19 million --> $22 million --> $15 million.
Obviously, it won’t necessarily happen in that order but you get the idea.
There are also a couple cuts that could be made to create more room. Juqua Parker being one of the prime candidates. He will account for $4.3 million of the cap but the Eagles will only take an 800k cap hit if he is cut. Parker is due to make $3.5 million in 2011, 500k more than Trent Cole. That is ridiculous. $15 - $20 million is a good chunk of change to head into free agency with. That’s easily two star players. That would be enough for Nnamdi! Although, I don’t think the Eagles are going after him. It won’t be $30 million like some reporters/analysts are making it seem but I’m willing to bet the Eagles will make some splashes this off-season, starting with the trade of Kevin Kolb.