This feature is a weekly piece on BleedingGreenNation.com titled From The Eagles, featuring Eagles Insider DAVE SPADARO. The intention is to provide a perspective directly from the Philadelphia Eagles in this forum for the great fans who visit BGN.
The names are starting to come free. Defensive end Vinny Curry, released by Tampa Bay. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, released by Houston. Defensive end Brooks Reed, cut loose by Atlanta. It’s starting to become that time of the year when we look to see how the Eagles are going to address their roster for 2019.
But let’s understand one thing here: The Eagles have a lot of work to do before they get into the business of acquiring players. These next couple of weeks are going to be critical as the team takes a hard look at the roster and the salary-cap situation and bring the two together. Right now, the Eagles are far from adding players – the first priority is making the numbers work and getting under the projected $187 million to $191.1 million ceiling. That projection is a healthy increase from 2018’s $177 million, but that doesn’t mean the Eagles are in the clear.
They are, in fact, projected to be as much as $16 million over the projected cap number at this moment, and while that number is fluid, it doesn’t change the fact that the Eagles have to make some hard decisions to get under the cap limit by March 13 at 4 p.m.
We’re going to get a sense of the plan in the next week or two as the team’s decision makers gather and move forward after spending the last several weeks self-scouting the 2018 season, grading prospective free agents and digging into the draft preparation process. This is really going to ramp up when all the scouts report to the NovaCare Complex next week to get the draft board ready, and at the same time Howie Roseman and his staff have to get the numbers in order to proceed in free agency.
At a time when a team like the Cleveland Browns adds running back Kareem Hunt, the Eagles aren’t in position to bring on talent to the roster. Instead, they’ve got to plan on what to do with the roster, including tough decisions on the following players …
- Quarterback Nick Foles. It sounds like a lot of people out there have it all figured out, that the Eagles are going to use the Franchise Tag on Foles and then work the trade market. They may very well do that. But they have given themselves some time to have options, including simply allowing Foles to become an unrestricted free agent. We don’t yet know the exact course of action the Eagles are going to take. The clock is ticking.
- Left tackle Jason Peters. He is now 37 years old and has had trouble staying on the field the last two seasons. Nobody doubts how great Peters has been in his career and what he’s meant to this team. But he is an expensive piece of the puzzle who is going to be difficult to fit into the salary-cap picture. What do the Eagles do with Peters? Keep him at his current salary? Ask him to take a pay cut? Release him?
- Wide receiver Nelson Agholor. His fifth-year option comes at a base price of $9.4 million. He’s a terrific player who was probably underused in 2018. The Eagles have questions at wide receiver for sure, with Golden Tate scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent on March 13 and with Agholor’s heavy contract number. Can the Eagles afford to keep Agholor? Again, a tough decision for the Eagles here with a player everyone values.
- Linebacker Nigel Bradham. With an $8 million base salary and a $1 million bonus, Bradham is a highly paid linebacker and he’s a good one, too. Given that the Eagles have starting middle linebacker Jordan Hicks scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, losing Bradham would really hurt continuity at the position. The Eagles think that Paul Worrilow has a chance to earn some playing time, but can he step in and be a starter? Is that asking too much?
There are other players who the Eagles are going to take long, hard looks at because of their salaries and the team’s snug fit (I’m being generous here) within the salary cap but you get the gist. We’ve all got a “Wish List” of free agents who would fit in perfectly with the Eagles, but there is no guarantee the team is going to be an active player in this year’s free agency. Roseman knows how to play the game with the best of them in the NFL, so he’s going to be creative and he’s going to create cap room and the Eagles will do what they can do to sign UFAs starting March 13.
But between now and then, the focus is on streamlining the salary-cap situation, knowing that the team is up against it now and that there is a large Carson Wentz contract looming (when that happens, I have no idea). All of the “names” we see out on the streets, geez do they look enticing. It’s a cruel tease, though, because the Eagles are just not in position at this time to get busy adding to the roster.