Philly expects to lose defensive tackle Beau Allen, linebacker Nigel Bradham and tight end Trey Burton in free-agency.
Well, this is disappointing, though not totally unexpected.
It’s not surprising that Allen and Burton are likely goners. Free agency holds more money and more playing time opportunity than the Eagles can reasonably offer them.
Hearing Bradham lumped in with that group is at least a little surprising, though. One would think he’s the Eagles’ biggest priority when it comes to retaining their own free agents.
Unlike Allen and Burton, Bradham would be a starter with the Eagles if he stays in Philadelphia. He’s played the most snaps of an Eagles linebacker over the past two seasons.
The problem is that it’s not a no-brainer for the Eagles to open the vaults to keep him. Philadelphia is already tight on cap space. How much can they really offer to an outside linebacker who turns 29 in September?
That’s not meant to downplay Bradham’s significance. He’s a good, versatile starter and it would be great if the Eagles can keep him. But the Eagles can’t just hand him a blank check. And given that linebacker probably isn’t a priority position for them — especially compared to, say, the offensive and defensive lines) — it’s not surprising that Bradham’s cost might be too rich for what they’d like to pay for.
If Bradham isn’t back (which I’ve personally heard could be the case), linebacker immediately becomes a big need for Philadelphia. Mychal Kendricks is already a potential cap casualty due to $4.4 million that can be saved by trading or cutting him. The talented-yet-oft-injured Jordan Hicks is on the last year of his rookie deal. Outside of that, the Eagles don’t have any proven starters under contract at the position.
There are some other free agent linebackers that makes sense for the Eagles. It’s very possible they’re a downgrade from Bradham, though.
Hopefully King’s report is wrong and the Eagles can find a way to keep Bradham at a reasonable rate. The Eagles might just have to risk letting Bradham sit on the market and hope he doesn’t find the deal he’s seeking. Perhaps Philadelphia could bring him back at a reasonable rate if his market cools.
Otherwise, the Eagles might just have to bank on letting their free agents walk and being OK with receiving compensatory picks in next year’s 2019 NFL Draft in exchange for them.
Another interesting thing about King’s report is that there was no mention of losing Patrick Robinson. Maybe that was just an oversight, but it was reported last week that the Eagles are talking to Robinson about a potential extension. So that’s something to keep an eye on.
To end things on a more positive note, here’s a final observation from King.
The Eagles want Chris Long back, and Long intends to play another year in Philly.
Not surprising, but good to hear. The 32-year-old Long is set to play out the final year of his contract with the Eagles.
Long’s presence will be needed with Vinny Curry potentially not returning in 2018.