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December 07, 2018

Eagles mailbag: Release, restructure, or retain as is: Michael Bennett, Rodney McLeod, Timmy Jernigan

In our Eagles chat this week, there were a lot of questions that we could not get to in time or other questions we did answer but could use more color. And so, let's do a mailbag post to answer some of the overflow.

Question from Connor: Release, restructure, or retain as is: Michael Bennett, Rodney McLeod, and Timmy Jernigan. Go.

• Michael Bennett is scheduled to count for $7 million against the cap next season. The Eagles would save the full $7 million (no cap hit) if they release him. In 2020, he is scheduled to count for $8 million, again, with no penalty if he were to be released.

Bennett is already 33 years old, but he doesn’t seem to be showing any obvious signs of slowing down. He has 6.5 sacks this season with four games to play, and offers some inside-outside versatility. If the team re-signs Brandon Graham this offseason, then I can see a scenario in which the team moves on from Bennett because they need the cap space, but they almost have to keep him if Graham bolts for another team in free agency.

Verdict: Retain as is.

• Rodney McLeod is an interesting case. He’s going to be expensive in 2019, as he’ll cost a little more than $9.9 million against the cap. The team will surely ask McLeod to take a pay cut. If he doesn’t, the Eagles will have to make a tough decision. On the one hand, the Eagles have clearly missed McLeod, most notably when they lost a game in Tennessee this year because he wasn’t available. On the other hand, $10 million is a lot for a safety coming off a torn ACL/MCL.

If the Eagles release McLeod, they’ll save a little more than $5 million on the cap. They could then use that money to try to find his replacement on the open market. It is highly unlikely that McLeod is going to find another team willing to pay him anywhere near what he is making in Philly, seeing as he he’s recovering from a serious injury. Ultimately, I think both signs find a compromise.

Verdict: Restructure.

• Timmy Jernigan is scheduled to count for $13 million against the cap in 2019. There is a zero percent chance the team is bringing him back at that number. If the team thinks that he still has a career ahead of him after recovering from surgery to repair a herniated disc, then maybe they will bring him back on a significant pay cut, but it’s probably more likely that they just move on from him this offseason, especially if he is unable to get back on the field and make some noise down the stretch.

Verdict: Release.

Question from LostInChiTown: What are the odds that Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas assume there will be plenty of defensive linemen available in the middle rounds because of how deep it is, and ignore the position until it’s too late? It has worked terribly in the past, but a speed WR in round 1 and a stud RB in round 2 wouldn’t be all bad.

Watch how fast defensive linemen come off the board in this draft. They’re going to be like goldfish getting picked off by piranha. If you’re counting on a great one still just sitting there in the third round, then I think that strategy would be a huge mistake.

That said, a speed wide receiver is arguably as big a need as adding to the defensive line. If, say, Marquise Brown for example, is sitting there, and the Eagles have him rated more highly than all the available defensive linemen, then go ahead and take him. But I wouldn’t pass on a higher-rated defensive linemen in favor of a skill position player on the premise that I can just get one later.

Question from Lawson: When I see the Panthers’, Cowboys’, Bears’, and Vikings’ linebackers compared to the Eagles’, why the hell doesn’t Howie invest in that position?

The short answer is that you can’t invest heavily in everything. Andy Reid always wanted a quarterback, two offensive tackles, two pass rushers, two corners, and he’d figure out the rest from there. I do believe that wide receiver has now worked its way into that group with the game evolving the way it has.

If you invest heavily at linebacker, then you’re pulling resources away from other positions. There are a lot of different ways to build a roster, but personally, I believe the QB-OT-OT-DE-DE-CB-CB strategy is a sound one.

Question from MFlick: If you were Howie, what is the smallest compensation you would take for Mailata?

If someone offered me a 2, I’d snatch that up. I know this may sound crazy, but I’m turning down a 3.

Question from Artie: Any opinion on Kamu’s “choke” comments? Considering he choked on the pick six, I’m not a fan of it myself. Coming from Malcolm or Lane would be a better optic, in my opinion.

Well, it’s not like the team had a meeting and chose Kamu over Malcolm or Lane to talk smack, ha, but I hear what you’re saying. If you’re a third linebacker / special teams guy who sees the field for about 20 percent of the snaps when the team is fully healthy, maaaaaayyyybe don’t be the one who’s chirping, especially when you failed to make a play in a loss to the very same opponent that might have otherwise changed the game.

Also, my other issue with it is that if you’re going to do it, don’t go half-measure, as they said in Breaking Bad. Go full on Shady McCoy, like when he called Osi Umenyiora overrated and soft.

I did find Dak Prescott's response amusing:

The first part of that statement, I agree with. The Eagles, as winners of the Super Bowl last season, should continue to worry about winning. I'm confused, however, by the second part of that the statement, which implies that the Eagles are losers and the Cowboys are winners? How is that, exactly, when again, the Eagles remain reigning Super Bowl champions and the Cowboys have two playoff wins in 20 years?

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