March 08, 2023
Defensive turnover for the Eagles this offseason was always going to be inevitable, it's just a matter of to what extent.
Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson didn't receive the franchise tag and sure looks like he's heading for the open market after posting a video to his social media channels thanking Philadelphia.
Cornerback James Bradberry is due for a big payday after a shutdown season, and it probably won't be from the Eagles.
And defensive tackle Javon Hargrave after recording a career-best 11 sacks in a contract year?
"Hargrave is going to get about $20 million a year, I think," ESPN's NFL insider Adam Schefter told 97.5 The Fanatic Wednesday morning. "That's my projection going into next week, and we'll see if that turns out to be right or wrong."
But to Schefter, it probably means he won't be back either.
"Yeah, I think he'll be gone," Schefter told the station. "I don't think they'll be able to afford to re-sign him."
Especially with a new contract due to quarterback Jalen Hurts and a pending list of 20 free agents in total when the negotiating window opens up on Monday.
They can't keep everyone and they know it.
"Well, first of all, no surprise that they didn't use their franchise tag. I don't think they ever planned to do that, and so Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Javon Hargrave, and Brandon Graham, and Fletcher Cox, and all those people, they all become free agents now, allowed to test the market.
"Look, they're in a situation where this team's gonna have to be constructed differently. They had Jalen Hurts on a rookie contract, and that contract is gonna get done, I believe. I don't know when, whether it's a week, a month, before training camp, but they know it's gonna get done and they're obviously planning for that.
"So when you're paying your quarterback, let's just call it $45-50 million a year, right?.... When you're paying him $50 million a year, you can't afford the same number of players that you did when he was on a rookie deal. You just can't.
"They've planned, like, teams have their salary cap situations literally drawn out for years to come. They've known about this year 3-4 years ago. What they didn't know was that Jalen was gonna develop into the star that he is, that they're gonna have to pay him roughly $50 million a year, so you adjust and tweak your system to that.
"But they knew this was coming and they're gonna lose defensive talent. That's just the way it is. It's the cost of doing business. They'd like to have most of those players back. They can't. They just can't afford it." [97.5 The Fanatic]
As far as how the Eagles could go about filling those likely holes on a unit that helped push them to the Super Bowl, Schefter pointed to drafting, compensatory picks that could come through over the next couple of years with some of the departures, and some free-agent bargains general manager Howie Roseman might be able to find before and after the draft.
He also noted 2022's rookies in nose tackle Jordan Davis and linebacker Nakobe Dean as two players who will be looked toward to step up.
"I still think the defense is gonna be good," Schefter said. "They still have good guys. It wasn't like all of a sudden this just happened. They drafted Jordan Davis to step in there, they drafted Nakobe Dean to step in there. They drafted some of these guys so that they would be ready, and they're counting on those guys to step up."
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