January 04, 2021
Before the Eagles even finished their 2020 season, the team made it a point to squash some of the potential drama sure to follow this team for the next weeks and months, leaking to the media that both head coach Doug Pederson and GM Howie Roseman will remain with the team.
However, after a 4-11-1 campaign that fell short of even the most pessimistic of expectations, there is no possible way the Eagles limp into 2021 without making any substantial changes. We already know defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will not be back, and it is likely a few more heads roll on the coaching roster. But what about the actual roster?
The 2021 Eagles, as of right now (according to overthecap.com) have more than $270 million in payroll commitments. Some of that can be wiggled out of, but some, like Carson Wentz' $33 million cap hit, are not going anywhere. With the team needing upwards of $70 million in cap relief — in addition to an influx of youth — the core that began in the late days of Andy Reid's regime and carried the Eagles in their Super Bowl season in 2017 may finally be broken completely apart.
In the wake of their season-ending 20-14 loss to Washington Sunday night, there are a lot of household names who might have played their final game ever for Philadelphia this season.
Below, we'll break down some of the fan favorites who could be sent packing. Keep in mind, with Roseman and Pederson returning there is a chance at least some of the below names agree to restructure a deal, or return in some way shape or form. But there is almost no physical way for all of them to. There is also, unfortunately, not nearly enough savings to be found in the older players (or the players demanding trades).
Take a look:
(A note: While the team may be able to technically save more on players with a post June 1 release or trade, that maneuvering will not get the team under the salary cap before the required deadline. Which is why we are including the cap savings for a pre-June 1 release. Howie Roseman may elect to re-structure some contracts or save money by waiting until the summer as well.)
Most of you know the scenario with Wentz. After having the worst season, arguably, of any quarterback this season, he was benched for second-round pick Jalen Hurts, and depending on who you believe, is demanding a trade. The Eagles would probably prefer he return, restructure his salary and compete in training camp to start in 2021. With Pederson returning, the two will have work to do to get the offense back on track — but it's still possible. Wentz seems not to be interested in that at all.
The Eagles can elect to trade or release Wentz this offseason, but if they do, it is both costly and complicated. No one really knows what Wentz' trade value is, and if the Eagles are willing to give up on what amounts to three first round picks and a ton of already guaranteed money after just one bad season — but it will surely be the talk of the offseason.
(Nate Sudfeld, the Eagles No. 3 QB is also set to be an unrestricted free agent.)
Jeffery, coming off foot surgery last year, was put on the 53-man roster and kept there all season, despite not playing until Week 10 and getting just six catches in seven games, while taking away playing time from younger guys. It makes no sense, no matter how you spin it, which is why there is a weird and frustrating chance he returns in 2021. Cutting Jeffery will result in a cap hit of just over $10 million, but the savings that could be had from letting him go is a sizable portion of the cash the Eagles need to get out of their current dire situation.
The Eagles drafted Dallas Goedert a few years ago for this very scenario. For once, the Eagles made smart decisions and are extremely prepared. With Ertz showing his age and likely not worth the $12.4 million it'll cost the team to keep him for another year, it may be Goedert's turn to take over the TE1 duties full-time. Ertz has been an all-time great Eagle and could yield something by way of a trade. He was on the field for Week 17, and had three catches for 16 yards (on seven targets) in what could be his last game in green and white — he was seen sitting alone on the Eagles bench following their loss Sunday, likely taking it all in as he prepares for his next chapter.
Kelce is a unique situation for Philadelphia, as the Birds are surely not interested in cutting or trading him, though a restructure may help a bit. He's been one of the best centers in football for nearly a decade. The issue with Kelce is he's got a ton of mileage on him — 142 games and more than 8,700 snaps to be more specific. Will the 33-year-old decide to hang up his cleats while his brain still works properly? Or can the Eagles convince him to come back — with the assumption that healthy returns of Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson could make the offensive line a strength for the team in 2021? Regardless, he will only be leaving by his own decision.
Peters may have been marginally better than Jack Driscoll, Jordan Mailata and Nate Herbig this season (okay, he was probably better than Herbig) but he really didn't help the battered o-line all that much in 2020 and cost the team quite a bit of coin and more than a small headache (when he reportedly refused to play tackle without a pay cut). It would be hard for the team to justify spending any money on the 38-year old future Hall of Famer.
Cox is probably the least likely of anyone on this list to just be cut — at the very least he may be re-structured to save the team some short-term money. But he also is a very valuable trade chip, potentially appealing to a team looking to seriously contend and add a beast in their front four. Cox has had a productive 2020, collecting 6.5 sacks and two forced fumbles, but his elite days are behind him. Philly might welcome a Day 2 pick for him this spring.
If Graham's Eagles career ends with an eight-sack, Pro Bowl year it'll be a fitting end for a player routinely underrated and who has been a key member of every defense for a decade. He is a good candidate, as well, to have his contract maneuvered, as he will surely be motivated to stay in Philly, if possible, to play out his career. The Eagles would be best served to go as young as they can, and probably won't be keeping both Graham and Cox in 2021 if they can figure out a way to get a return for one of them.
Curry was inked as a free agent and has been a rotation player in his second stint with the Birds. He's a veteran luxury for a contending team and probably won't be back.
The market for Mills will likely dictate whether or not the Eagles bring him back. For being a seventh-round pick, he has definitely shown a ton of talent and leadership over the last four seasons and the Eagles have a bevy of question marks in the secondary next season, essentially lacking a starting safety and corner, along with another free agent defensive back in Nickell Roby-Coleman potentially leaving. If the Eagles can get him on a friendly deal he'll be a free agent target, but probably not someone they'll be aggressive with.
Johnston has been less than stellar this year. Maybe they'll draft a punter?
There are a few other options who are not former Super Bowl champions, some of whom include Derek Barnett and Isaac Seumalo, two relatively young veterans that have a lot of value to the Eagles and are likely to be retained. Here is a trio of other vets who potentially won't be:
Jackson is a fan favorite and made his potential final catch as an Eagle a memorable one, scoring on an 81-yard bomb from Hurts in Week 16. Here in his second stint in Philly, Jackson is 34, and while he has still flashed a lot of speed he's been unable to keep himself healthy and on the field. His departure would leave a cap hit of $5.8 million, but also help the Eagles save money and get younger.
The other Jackson on the team has also been here two seasons, and can be looked at as a luxury item priced at $13.6 million next season. Philly is probably priced in to keep him next year.
NRC didn't entirely pan out as the lockdown nickel corner the Eagles hoped he would be in 2020. He becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason and may take his services elsewhere.
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