March 15, 2021
UPDATE [4:20 p.m.] — According to multiple reports, the Browns are going to sign former Rams safety John Johnson, taking him out of play for the Eagles, who were one of the teams linked to him as recently as a few hours ago.
It was always going to be tough for the Eagles to afford Johnson, and at this money, they never really stood a chance.
#Browns deal for S John Johnson: Three years, $33.75 million with $24 million guaranteed, source says. Former third-rounder cashes in.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 15, 2021
Still, they're definitely a team in need of safety help after losing two in free agency earlier on Monday. Speaking of...
UPDATE [3:57 p.m.] — The Eagles are set to lose another defensive back to free agency, although this one likely won't have the same impact as Jalen Mills, who will reportedly sign a lucrative four-year deal with the Patriots.
The #Jaguars strike again: They’re signing safety Rudy Ford to a two-year, $4.2 million deal, per source.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 15, 2021
Where the Eagles will feel the biggest impact from Ford's departure is on special teams, as Jimmy Kempski outlined in his annual "Stay or Go" series:
The team really likes Ford as a special teamer, and he showed some glimpses that he is indeed good on the coverage units, when healthy, after a season in 2019 in which he was a penalty machine.
Both Jimmy and our readers (over 63% of them) thought the Birds should bring Ford back, which is saying something considering he wasn't a big-name guy who drew a lot of attention. That just goes to show you how much of a standout he was on special teams.
UPDATE [3:06 p.m.] — It appears the Green Goblin will need a new hair color.
According to Adam Schefter, the first Eagles free agent has signed elsewhere as the Patriots continued their shopping spree by signing veteran defensive back Jalen Mills to a four-year deal.
More for the Patriots: Former Eagles DB Jalen Mills to the Patriots on a 4-year, $24 million deal including $9M guaranteed, @DrewJRosenhaus tells ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2021
Mills switched positions in 2020 and played safety for the Eagles after the team let Malcolm Jenkins go last offseason. Obviously the Pats see some value in that versatility.
You can read more about the deal — and where it leaves the Eagles at safety — right here.
UPDATE [2:41 p.m.] — This is actually an update to a previous update, but it's important nonetheless, because now we have some details. According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, the Eagles have indeed extended Brandon Graham's contract for an additional year, which will help them a bit as they continue their quest to get under the salary cap before Wednesday.
Brandon Graham's new deal with Philadelphia will be a one-year extension worth close to $20 million over two years, per source. Was originally due $13 million this year. Eagles keep long-time starter with 59 sacks.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 15, 2021
The Eagles still have a few more moves to make to get under the cap, but it's beginning to look like they're well on their way.
UPDATE [1:15 p.m.] — According to CBS Sports' Jonathan Jones, the Eagles are among the teams interested in former rams defensive back John Johnson, whose name popped in our most recent What They're Saying.
Hearing former Rams S John Johnson's free agent market is taking shape. Lions, Eagles, Jags and Browns all showing interest— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) March 15, 2021
Additionally, you can take the Patriots out of the running as a potential trade partner for Zach Ertz. They just handed out monster money (for a tight end) to former Titan Jonnu Smith. Not only does that deal take one possible suitor out of the running, but it also probably makes Ertz wish the Eagles would just release him so he could get in on that market.
I'm guessing Zach Ertz really wants to get released now. https://t.co/ag0RagX8pi— Martin Frank (@Mfranknfl) March 15, 2021
Per his reported 4 year, $50M contract with the #Patriots, Jonnu Smith is soon to be the 3rd highest average paid TE in football.— Spotrac (@spotrac) March 15, 2021
1. Kittle, $15M
2. Kelce, $14.3M
3. Smith, $12.5M
If that’s the contract Jonnu Smith is getting ($50M/4 years), then Zach Ertz absolutely still has value.— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) March 15, 2021
I know Jonnu Smith is an exciting, young player. But he’s also never even had 500 yards in a season.
It will indeed be interesting to see how this impacts the Ertz market.
UPDATE [12:01 p.m.] — It's officially tampering season in the NFL, and almost exactly at noon, Jeremy Fowler had a report that didn't necessarily need to wait until tampering was legal: the Eagles are working on a contract extension with defensive end Brandon Graham.
Eagles and DE Brandon Graham are working on a contract extension that will help with cap space, per sources. One source said it's likely a one-year extension for the would-be 2022 free agent. Can re-arrange Graham's $17.9M cap hit and $13M salary while likely adding new money— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 15, 2021
This follows a previous report that stated the Eagles were working on restructuring his contract. At the time, we speculated that an extension might be more likely give that Graham was heading into the final year of his contract. Stay tuned as there is surely more to come...
NFL free agency won't officially open until Wednesday when the new league year begins, but for all intents and purposes it starts today with the opening legal tampering window, meaning teams and players are allowed to begin negotiating contracts.
In other words, there are going to be a lot of reports in the next 48 hours about Player X signing with Team Y, but almost none will be confirmed by the teams until Wednesday. And with the league facing its first shrinking salary cap in decades due to COVID, this year's version of free agency is expected to be unlike anything we've ever seen before.
But it's not just that. There are a record number of quarterbacks who could be changing teams this offseason. Some of that has already begun, with Carson Wentz, Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford all moving to new cities this winter — and some even bigger names could be on the move in the coming days and weeks.
As for the Eagles, they're expected to undergo plenty of change of their own. They've already begun restructuring contracts and extending some players to help get themselves out of salary cap hell. Unfortunately, they likely still have some work to do there before Wednesday, when the league requires them to come in below the cap. Currently, according to OverTheCap.com, the Birds still have just over $18 million to trim.
Because of that, the legal tampering period could lead to just as many rumors about Eagles leaving as players being added. And it could be some big names on the move, among them veteran tight end Zach Ertz, whose departure has long been rumored as the team looks to not only shed salary and get younger, but to add valuable draft picks when possible.
On Sunday, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported that the Eagles insist they will not release Ertz and will instead continue to look for a trade partner with the hopes they can land a mid-round pick for the 31-year-old tight end. But that isn't setting well with Ertz, who will now begin losing potential negotiating power each passing day he's still on Philly's roster.
The #Eagles insist they won’t release three-time Pro Bowl TE Zach Ertz, and with multiple teams interested in a trade, Ertz is getting antsy for Philadelphia to get a deal done. @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/W5T4skOlIR— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 14, 2021
There will likely be even more cap casualties in the coming days for the Eagles beyond a potential Ertz departure — and from there, they'll begin building back up.
And when they do, we'll have you covered with all the latest news and rumors surrounding the Eagles — and the rest of the NFL for that matter — throughout free agency with out daily live tracker.
[NOTE: We'll top off this post with any relevant Eagles rumors as they unfold, so stay tuned...]
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