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February 16, 2018

Eagles stay or go: Defensive end

Now that the Philadelphia Eagles' offseason is (finally) underway, let's take a look at each position and figure out which players will be back in 2018, and which ones will be playing elsewhere. Here we'll look at defensive end.

Previous "Stay or Go" positional analysis
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end
Offensive tackle | Guard/Center

Brandon Graham

Graham is the team's best edge rusher and a Super Bowl hero. He wants more money, as he should, and in my view, the Eagles should give it to him. At any rate, Graham is under contract for one more season.

#JimmyVerdict: Stay.

Your verdict:

Vinny Curry

Curry was a good player for the Eagles in 2017, particularly in the run game, but his play simply does not match up with his pay. Here are the cap numbers for the remainder of Curry's contract:

  1. 2018: $11,000,000
  2. 2019: $11,250,000
  3. 2020: $12,000,000

The Eagles can't keep Curry around at those numbers. Certainly, the Eagles will ask him to take a substantial pay cut. If he is unwilling, the Eagles are likely going to have to strongly consider releasing him.

MORE ON THE EAGLES: Brandon Graham wants a new contract, and the Eagles should give him one | Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!': Eagles fans cry when they see me | Brandon Graham wants a new contract, and the Eagles should give him one | Patriots fans are crybabies, and it's hilarious 

If they were to trade (unlikely) or release him, the Eagles would save $5,000,000, but would take a hit of $6,000,000 in dead money. That'd be a tough pill to swallow, but a necessary one.

They could also potentially designate Curry as a "post-June 1 cut." The NFL makes a distinction between player moves (cuts or trades) that happen before June 1, and after it. We'll use a concise explanation from on the difference:

When a player is removed from a players roster prior to June 1st all his remaining unamortized bonus money immediately accelerates onto the salary cap (for the current year).

After June 1 the NFL changes the way the acceleration works.  After June 1st only the current years expense remains on the books after the player is released. The balance accelerates onto the following years salary cap.

In simpler terms, post-June 1 trades/cut give teams immediate cap relief, and allow them to put off the full effect of the cap hit until the future.

If the Eagles were to use a post-June 1 designation on Curry, they would save $9 million in 2018, with $2 million counting toward the cap in 2018. The remaining $4 million in dead money would then count toward the 2019 cap.

The Eagles don't typically use their June 1 designation, but in this scenario, it would make sense for a team that is over the salary cap, as is.

#JimmyVerdict: Go.

Your verdict:

Derek Barnett

Barnett had a very good rookie season as a rotational defensive end, and has a bright future ahead, likely as an above average starting defensive end.

#JimmyVerdict: Stay, obviously.

Your verdict:

Chris Long

I've received questions recently about Long potentially being let go. I don't understand that thinking. Long will count for $2,350,000 against the cap in 2018, $1,950,000 of which the Eagles would save if they cut him. 

In my view, he's still a bargain, seeing as he made big plays all year as a rotational defensive end. During the regular season, Long had 5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. In the playoffs, Long generated perhaps the biggest play in the NFC Championship Game, when he affected a Case Keenum pass that was returned for a touchdown by Patrick Robinson. Behind the scenes, Long was also a well-liked player in the locker room.

#JimmyVerdict: Stay. 

Your verdict:

Steven Means

Means has been an underdog during training camp the last couple of years, but he has played his ass off and made the team. During the regular season, he was inactive on game day more than he was active, which makes his standing on the roster tenuous heading into 2018, as usual. 

#JimmyVerdict: Means' spot on the roster would be helped significantly by the release of Curry if that's the direction the Eagles choose. He'll likely have to scratch and claw for a paycheck once again, either way.

Your verdict:

#JimmyVerdict Stay or Go Results

Green = Stay

Red = Go

Orange = They'll make it to camp, and will have to prove they belong on the roster.

(Note: Some mobile versions will not display colors.)

 QBCarson Wentz Nick Foles Nate Sudfeld  
 RBJay Ajayi LeGarrette Blount Corey Clement Darren Sproles 
 RB (cont) Wendell SmallwoodDonnel Pumphrey Kenjon Barner  
 WRAlshon Jeffery Torrey Smith Nelson Agholor Mack Hollins 
 WR (cont) Shelton GibsonMarcus Johnson   
 TE Zach ErtzBrent Celek Trey Burton  
 OT Jason PetersLane Johnson Halapoulivaati Vaitai Will Beatty 
 OGBrandon Brooks Stefen Wisniewski Chance Warmack  
 C Jason KelceIsaac Seumalo   
 DEBrandon Graham Vinny Curry Derek Barnett Chris Long 
 DE (cont) Steven Means   
 Head coach    
 Defensive coordinator    

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