Nick Foles said it well following the Philadelphia Eagles’ playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints: the toughest part about the season being over is knowing it’ll be the last time that exact team will be together.
Philadelphia’s front office has a lot of critical roster decisions to make this offseason, especially when it comes to free agency. The team is currently projected to be $12.1 million OVER the cap so they’ll have to be wise about how they spend their money.
Here’s a complete list of Eagles players that are set to be free agents when the new league begins at 4:00 PM ET on Wednesday, March 13.
2019 Eagles Free Agents
As you’ll notice in the “Type” column, 17 of the Eagles’ 20 free agents are set to be unrestricted free agents. This means they’ll be able to sign with any team once free agency officially begins. The Eagles can prevent players from hitting the open market by signing them to contract extensions — or applying the franchise tag — before March 13.
Foles’ situation is unique since there’s a mutual option in his contract. If the Eagles want to keep him, they can pick up his $20 million salary for 2019. Foles can opt out of his deal, however, by paying back a $2 million signing bonus he received last year. Foles would then be an unrestricted free agent. Here’s some more information on this scenario:
Nick Foles contract details:— Andrew Brandt (@AndrewBrandt) January 14, 2019
-Eagles must decide by 30 days before League Year (approx Feb 12) whether to exercise option for $20M salary;
-If Eagles exercise, Foles has 5 days to pay $2M to void, become FA;
-If not voided, $20M becomes fully guaranteed 5th day of League Year.
It’s been rumored that the Eagles could place the franchise tag on Foles in order to be able to trade him. There are some challenges that come with that scenario, though, so it’s not a sure thing.
The Eagles have one restricted free agent: backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld (aka Nate Studfeld). It’ll be interesting to see how the Eagles choose to tender him. Here are their four options:
First-round tender: Free agent can negotiate with other teams, but original team has option to match any deal and will receive a first-round selection if it opts not to match the deal.
Second-round tender: Free agent can negotiate with other teams, but original team has option to match any deal and will receive a second-round selection if it opts not to match the deal.
Original-round tender: Free agent can negotiate with other teams, but original team has option to match any deal and will receive a selection equal to the round the player was originally selected in if it opts not to match the deal.
Right of first refusal: Free agent can negotiate with other teams, but original team has option to match any deal. The team will not receive any compensation if it opts not to match another deal.
With Foles potentially gone, the Eagles might have to use the second-round tender on Sudfeld to ensure they keep him. Tendering Sudfeld at the original-round level would be less expensive but some team might sign him to an offer sheet and all they’d have to give the Eagles in return is their sixth-round pick. And then the Eagles would have no backup behind Carson Wentz.
The Eagles have one exclusive-rights free agent: kicker Jake Elliott. Being an ERFA is hardly like being a free agent at all. Basically the team will offer you a minimum deal and you have to take it because the alternative is not playing in the NFL at all.
The Eagles have some tough decisions to make
How the Eagles will navigate the team’s quarterback situation will be very interesting. Howie Roseman is one of the most creative executives in the league so I wouldn’t put anything past him. Maybe he’ll be able to trade Foles. We’ll see.
The Brandon Graham decision is another big one. Not unlike Foles, Graham is a Super Bowl hero after having strip-sacked Tom Brady to help clinch Philadelphia’s first Vince Lombardi Trophy. He’s given everything he’s got to this team. Graham has seemingly indicated that he’s willing to give the Eagles some kind of hometown discount in order for him to stay but it’s not like he’s going to play for free. The Eagles will still have to make a competitive offer.
Jay Ajayi and Ronald Darby are young talents coming off major ACL injuries. If they were healthy, they’d likely have pretty big free agent markets. Who knows, they still might. Allen Robinson suffered a torn ACL in 2017 before then signing a three-year, $42 million contract with the Bears during the 2018 offseason. Maybe there are teams out there willing to gamble on the upside of Ajayi and/or Darby. But perhaps their markets won’t be strong and they’ll end up back in Philly on one-year prove-it deals. You might be able to lump Jordan Hicks into this category as well.
I’d be very surprised if Golden Tate is back despite the fact the Eagles traded a 2019 third-round pick for him. It seems like he’ll be able to get more money on the market than what he’s worth to the Eagles. Plus, Tate might not even want to be back considering he wasn’t exactly a smooth fit in the offense.
Older guys like Haloti Ngata, Darren Sproles, and Chris Maragos could potentially retire. There’s talk that Sproles might be interested in playing at least one more season.
Cap causalities and retirements
The Eagles have some players currently under contract for 2019 who might not be back with the team next season.
Jason Peters, who turns 37 in one week, might retire. Chris Long could retire. Jason Kelce didn’t shut the door on possibly leaving the game.
Then are there are guys who could end up being cap causalities. Tim Jernigan is an obvious candidate since there are no guarantees left in his contract. Perhaps the Eagles will be able to rework his deal.
Rodney McLeod could be a name to watch as he comes off his ACL/MCL injury. He has a $9.9 million cap hit in 2019.
Nelson Agholor’s situation is worth monitoring as well. He currently has a $9.4 million cap number for 2019 but none of it is guaranteed just yet since it’s a fifth-year team option. One would think the Eagles might try to work on a long-term deal to lower that cap number. Or maybe they just move on from Agholor?
So, yeah, the Eagles’ front office will be very busy this offseason. The moves they make will shape the 2019 roster and beyond. It’s imperative they get it right.