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July 25, 2020

What they're saying: Jamal Adams traded, LeSean McCoy still an option, Eagles' salary cap concerns

Eagles NFL
021420HowieRoseman Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Howie Roseman will have his work cut out for him getting the Eagles under the cap next season.

UPDATE [4:08 p.m.] — According to multiple reports, the Jets have traded Jamal Adams to the Seahawks following the safety's comments to the New York Daily News about head coach Adam Gase. 

And the haul the Jets received for the talented 24-year-old defensive back is something else... 

That's obviously way more than the Eagles would've considered trading for Adams, but now that the deal is done, it makes the first third of the below post meaningless. You can skip over that if you want.


FROM EARLIER

The Eagles will start training camp on time, after the NFL announced on Friday that they came to an agreement with the NFLPA over health and safety protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as how the league will handle the financial implications of what will likely be a fan-less season around the country. 

For most teams, rookies reported this past week with the full squad expected to arrive in the coming days, and that's great news for all those hoping football returns safely and on time this fall. 

Of course, there's still time for the Eagles to add some talent before getting too deep into camp, and with time running out for players to get signed, many could be open to lowering their asking prices or risk getting left on the outside looking in. We've already seen guys like Jadeveon Clowney and Devonta Freeman — both of whom are reportedly on the Eagles' radar — drop their price, and others could follow.

But it's not just depth free agents who could be available to the Birds. They may also have the chance to make a big splash on the trade market — although, as we'll see, that would likely only further complicate their already precarious salary cap situation. Before looking at the financial implications of pulling off a big trade, let's take a closer look at the player in question, Jets safety Jamal Adams, and whether or not he'd make sense for Philly.

That's where we'll start today's edition of What They're Saying... 

Adams rips his coach

Manish Mehta | New York Daily News

Jamal Adams is the best safety in football, which is pretty impressive considering his age. The 24-year-old defensive back is still playing on his rookie contract but wants to be paid commensurate to his skill level, you know, like one of the best safeties in football.

While there had been talk out of New York that the Jets were working on a new deal for Adams, those have fallen apart in recent months and he has since come out and demanded a trade, leading to speculation that he may actually get his wish, something the Jets had previously said they were against. (It is worth noting that he said he still plans on reporting to Jets camp next week.)

Now, he's come out in an interview with the New York Daily News bashing head coach Adam Gase just days before the start of camp.

“It’s definitely mixed feelings,” Adams told the News in his first comments amid the contract stalemate. “But at the end of the day, my happiness is more important. I know my worth. I’m going to stand on my beliefs. I’m going to stand on who I am as a person. And I’m not ever going to change who I am for somebody who’s judging me. Either you accept me for who I am and you work with me and support me or you don’t. It’s okay if you don’t.”

Douglas’ curious communication coupled with Adams’ eroding relationship with head coach Adam Gase created a tension that bubbled to the surface. The News first reported last month that Adams had requested permission to seek a trade before citing that Gase was one factor why the two-time Pro Bowler felt uncomfortable with his long-term future with the team.

“I don’t feel like he’s the right leader for this organization to reach the Promised Land,” Adams said. “As a leader, what really bothers me is that he doesn’t have a relationship with everybody in the building.

“At the end of the day, he doesn’t address the team,” Adams added. “If there’s a problem in the locker room, he lets another coach address the team. If we’re playing sh---y and we’re losing, he doesn’t address the entire team as a group at halftime. He’ll walk out of the locker room and let another coach handle it.”  [nydailynews.com]

Adams to the Eagles?

NFL Insiders | ESPN.com

Of course, the Eagles probably aren't looking to pay a safety top dollar after getting rid of Malcolm Jenkins rather than working out a new contract, instead opting to move Jalen Mills to the position alongside Rodney McLeod. But, if there's a player you make an exception for, it's Adams. There is also a connection there with GM Joe Douglas, who was Howie Roseman's right-hand man before taking the promotion in New York.

Perhaps that's why, despite their tricky salary cap situation moving forward, three of ESPN's six experts who were asked to identify Adams most likely trade destination picked the Eagles... 

Matt Bowen, NFL analyst: Eagles. Adams would be an easy fit in Jim Schwartz's system, given his versatile traits. In Philadelphia, Adams would match to tight ends in coverage, spin down as a robber safety/underneath zone defender or pressure the quarterback in schemed-up blitzes.

Mike Clay, fantasy writer: Eagles. Philadelphia currently ranks among the league leaders in cap space and has a major need at safety following the offseason departure of Malcolm Jenkins. Linebacker and edge rush depth are also weak spots, which makes Adams' versatility very intriguing. The Eagles are also in need of guard help following Brandon Brooks' injury, so perhaps a deal including Adams and Brian Winters could be in the cards. [...]

Aaron Schatz, editor of Football Outsiders: Eagles. Moving Jalen Mills to safety seems like a good idea, but let's make no mistake, Adams would be a major upgrade as a playmaker who could do everything Jenkins has done for the Eagles' defense in the past. And their weakness at linebacker makes them a team likely to mix in some three-safety packages.  [espn.com]

[NOTE: We included this in a past What They're Saying, but given the NY Daily News story, we figured it was relevant again. As did ESPN, who republished this story on Friday.]

Shady still an option

Charean Williams | ProFootballTalk

While safety isn't necessarily an area of need, at least if the Jalen Mills experiment works out, backup running back is a spot that's been identified by both the media and the team as one spot where they could (read: should) add some veteran depth. 

We recently took a closer look at Devonta Freeman following him changing agents and lowering his asking price, so it would only make sense that McCoy's agent had him back out in the media talking about the interest he's getting ahead of training camps opening, since presumably these guys are competing for the attention of the same teams. And the Eagles are likely one of them, especially if your read between the lines of what Shady is saying. 

McCoy, 32, remains a free agent but expects to have a job this season.

“Right now, I’m just talking to a couple of teams — some of my favorite teams — that I’d think would be a great fit for me. I won’t tell you exactly,” McCoy told Mike Garafolo of NFL Media. “But I think the biggest thing is to find the right fit. Find the right fit for me. I think at this point in my career, not just playing football, I want to play for the right team. I want to be able to contribute. I want to be able to win another championship. You can’t go from playing with the Chiefs with all that talent and winning a championship to now just trying to play. I’m the type of guy, I want to come in a room, challenge the running backs get them better. Be a veteran leader. All the type of things I want to bring to a team. So, just got to find the right fit for me.”

McCoy talked to the Raiders earlier this offseason, and the Eagles reportedly had some level of interest at one point. But seemingly none of the talks have led to an offer.  [profootballtalk.com]

Recruiting season

Adam Hermann | NBC Sports Philadelphia

The decision will ultimately come down to the front office and coaching staff, but if the players had their way, McCoy would already be back in midnight green. Several players have already let their interest in the former Eagle be known, and Jalen Mills joined that group on Friday...

Then, on Friday afternoon, Eagles safety Jalen Mills fired off this tweet: 

Mills is expected to take on a larger leadership role with the team this year, after Malcolm Jenkins left in free agency, which means his voice probably carries farther in the locker room, and in the organization. It's interesting to see him take a stance on which players he'd like the team to pursue.

Mills isn't the first Eagles veteran to speak up about adding McCoy this offseason. Earlier this year, DeSean Jackson referenced a McCoy signing on Instagram, and Lane Johnson said he would "want to see it".  [nbcsports.com]

Cap concerns

Mike Kaye | NJ.com

At the top of the post, we mentioned the agreement reached by the NFL and NFLPA on Friday, and in addition to the safety protocols, one of the biggest pieces of news coming out had to do with the future state of the salary cap. 

In normal years, it increases. But with economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the league is unsure of how their finances will look at the end of this season, which was leading many to speculate a drastic drop in the cap next season, which would be big trouble for teams already expecting to be well over pre-coronavirus projection. Instead of having a huge dip in 2021, the two sides agree to keep the cap at $198.2 million for 2020 and placed a floor on next season's cap ($175 million) with the intention of spreading out any losses over several seasons. 

While that's certainly not the worst-case scenario for the Eagles, it's not great news. Over at NJ.com, Mike Kaye took a look at some of the impact this agreement will have on Roseman and Co.'s plans for next season.

While there is room for the 2021 projection to grow, it’s likely that the salary cap will still recede due to the inevitable lost revenue from this season.

That’s bad news for the Eagles, as the team was already projected to have a $50 million cap hole to climb out of -- even before the agreement -- due to the annual expectation of a rising salary cap. Now, according to OverTheCap’s Jason Fitzgerald, the Eagles are projected to face a salary cap debt of $71.53 million. That projection is the worst in the league.

That means the Eagles will need to cut salaries and restructure contracts at a notable rate next offseason just to get under the salary cap. The team will also need to roll over as much of their current cap space as possible.  [nj.com]

That last part about the rollover is important, because it means the Eagles are going to be less likely to sign any big-name players. It doesn't, however, take them out of the running for Adams, as his current contract is manageable and Roseman would have a chance to do what he does best and get creative with the future structure of the deal to limit any cap concerns. But it would still likely have a trickle-down effect on some other players on the team.

Crunching the numbers

Eliot Shorr-Parks | 94 WIP

Finally, one more look at the Eagles' cap situation from Eliot Shorr-Parks, who acknowledges that the Eagles are in a bit of a bind, but also believes they have the perfect front office to navigate the changing landscape of the NFL. 

The good news is the Eagles have two of the best salary cap minds in the league in Howie Roseman and Jake Rosenberg working their books. If you want to criticize them for pushing a lot of the big salary cap hits into one season (2021), that is fair. But clearly, they were not planning on the COVID-19 pandemic hitting, nor should they have been expected to plan on that. 

[...]

One thing is very important to remember — the NFL’s salary cap is a system filled with loopholes. So much so that some around the league view it more as a made-up number than something they actually make decisions by. The Eagles have been some of the trendsetters in the league in finding ways to work around it — fake years at the end of deals, low cap hits the first year, etc. 

Yes, they are in a tough spot. But the Eagles are already working on potential plans to get through this. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them start to make moves — trades, cuts, restructures — now in order to begin the climb out of the hole they will be in next offseason. 

Regardless of what happens, it would be very surprising if by the time the 2021 Week 1 kickoff is here, the Eagles aren’t fielding a team viewed as one of the better teams in the league.  [94wip.radio.com]


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