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May 12, 2019

Mailbag: Should the Eagles cut their free agent acquisitions to preserve compensatory picks?

Eagles NFL

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.

For the first mailbag entry, several people asked variations of the same question, so I'll post all three.

Question from David: Jimmy, how exactly does cutting Andrew Sendejo get the Eagles an extra comp pick? Like, they'd definitely get one if they cut him? How can that be?

Question from EaglesChampions: Shouldn't they just keep Sendejo instead of cutting him for some useless late round comp pick?

Question from Bill: Does the Zach Brown signing mean that L.J. Fort, rather than Sendejo, is the odd man out in the 4th round comp pick sweepstakes, especially given the dire situation at safety?

OK, there's a lot to weed through there, and my heart is filled with pride with all these obscure compensatory pick questions. I'll answer David's question first.

There are currently four former Eagles players who will count toward the compensatory pick formula as "players lost." They are Nick Foles, Golden Tate, Jordan Hicks, and Jordan Matthews. There are two new Eagles who will count toward the compensatory pick formula as "players gained." They are L.J. Fort and Andrew Sendejo. 

Fort and Sendejo would currently cancel out Hicks and Matthews, leaving the Eagles with two comp picks earned, as we note in our compensatory pick tracker (h/t OverTheCap).

Players lost (APY) - Projected round Players gained (APY) - Projected round 
 Nick Foles ($22,000,000) - 3L.J. Fort ($1,633,333) - 7 
Golden Tate ($9,375,000) - 4Andrew Sendejo ($1,300,000) - 7 
 Jordan Hicks ($9,000,000) - 4 
 Jordan Matthews ($1,800,000) - 7 

If the Eagles cut Sendejo, for example, he would no longer count toward the comp pick formula, and Hicks would therefore no longer be cancelled out. Instead, the above cancellation chart would look like this:

Players lost (APY) - Projected round Players gained (APY) - Projected round 
 Nick Foles ($22,000,000) - 3L.J. Fort ($1,633,333) - 7 
Golden Tate ($9,375,000) - 4 
 Jordan Hicks ($9,000,000) - 4 
 Jordan Matthews ($1,800,000) - 7 

So the Eagles would have an extra (projected) fourth round compensatory pick for the loss of Hicks. Got it? OK, good. 

Onto EaglesChampions' question about whether the Eagles should just keep Sendejo instead of preserving the fourth-round comp pick. Emphatically, no, they should not. I'll pose a counter-question. If Sendejo weren't already on the team, would you trade a fourth-round pick for a 32-year-old backup safety? Hell no, you wouldn't.

And finally, in regard to Bill's question about cutting Fort instead of Sendejo, I don't see the Eagles cutting Fort, who got $1.9 million guaranteed in his deal, which means that if you cut him, you have $1.9 million in dead money. If Fort is just God awful in training camp like Corey Nelson was a year ago, the Eagles would cut him, but I think he would only be cut on merit.

To note, the Eagles don't have to cut Sendejo or Fort anytime soon. If they aren't on the roster for 10 games, they won't count toward the formula. In 2018, Caleb Sturgis was set to count for a comp pick gained for the Eagles, but then he went on a missed FG barrage for the Chargers, and they cut him. Sturgis then no longer counted toward the formula.

Question from Desert_Eagle: I’m pretty concerned about the safety position. In 2019, will Tre Sullivan be able to hold down the third safety role? Do the Eagles really think that Blake Countess can play safety, or is he strictly here for special teams? And in 2020, Rodney McLeod will be gone and Malcolm Jenkins will be a year older. Will the Eagles be reaching for a safety in the draft, or signing a huge free agent deal to fill those holes? Or do you think there are any “safeties of the future” on the roster now?

First, I’ll point out that when the third safety (and the future of the safety position in general) is among the biggest concerns, the roster is really freaking good.

Second, Jenkins has played his best football over the last few years, even as he has begun to age. I don’t want to speak for him, but he seems like a guy who loves to play, and should have a few good years left in him. As for McLeod, yes, he’ll be a free agent. We’ll see if he leaves or not. I thought the Eagles might take a safety in the second round of the draft, but I don’t think it’s wrong that they didn’t. It’s not a priority position, and if some of their safeties falter, there’s always Avonte Maddox, who played safety very capably as a rookie.

Question from Dalessandros: Is Nelson Agholor really overpaid? It’s not a great use of resources, given the money committed to Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson, as well as the snaps that Dallas Goedert should get, and that it’s not hard to find a replacement level slot receiver for cheap. However, guys like Jamison Crowder and are making $9 million per year, and I’d argue they don’t stress the edges the way that Agholor can with jet sweeps, deeper routes, etc.

In regard to whether or not $9 million is too much for what Agholor is, yes, I believe that is a high cost. You are certainly correct that slot receivers got some nice contracts around the league this offseason. Crowder got $9.5 million, Sterling Shepard got $10.25 million, Adam Humphries got $9 million, etc. However, I don’t view other teams’ dopey contracts as justification for overpaying players.

In Agholor’s case, I do understand bringing him back. It’s only for one year, and then he’ll probably walk in free agency. That buys the team time to have a plan for the slot position in 2020 and beyond, and it gives you a player who can help you win in 2019, like he did when he was primarily playing the slot in 2017. Agholor will be part of a potent 11 personnel grouping when they go to that. And when Doug Pederson uses two-TE sets, they can be potent as well. Having a $9 million slot receiver is certainly a premium price to have to pay, but the ability for Pederson to toggle back and forth between 11 and 12 personnel, without putting a replacement level player on the field, will put a lot of stress on opposing defenses.

Question from Lucas: Was Clayton Thorson a bad pick, especially when Tyree Jackson became an undrafted free agent?

We’ll see. I’m looking forward to watching Thorson in training camp. I think the logic of taking a quarterback makes sense, as Nate Sudfeld will be an unrestricted free agent next offseason, so the Eagles are smart to begin to develop one now in preparation of the possibility that Sudfeld walks.

Beyond that, here’s a list of quarterbacks they have brought in who have been on the roster since Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman took over their respective jobs in 2016:

  1. Chase Daniel: Yes, he wasn’t very good, and yes, they way overpaid him. However, when they brought Daniel aboard, they did so knowing that they were going to draft a quarterback, likely very high. Daniel already knew Pederson’s offense, so he made sense as something of a player-coach for Carson Wentz. Overall though, obviously, this was a bad signing.
  2. Carson Wentz: Home run. Wentz has had some injury misfortune, but the evaluation of him as a player, both mentally and physically, was dead on.
  3. Nick Foles: Arguably the best free agent acquisition in team history.
  4. Nate Sudfeld: He hasn’t played much, but all indications are that the Eagles were gifted a player worth developing when they added him from the Washington team in 2017.

They’ve had two huge hits, one that looks like a hit, and one who helped behind the scenes but was wildly overpaid. They also traded Sam Bradford for first- and fourth-round picks.

In other words, I’m prepared to give the Eagles the benefit of the doubt on quarterback decisions until I actually see the guy play up close.

Question from Chris: Howie mentioned Daeshon Hall specifically as having “worked on his body,” and I thought he flashed a bit in limited time last year. He has 3rd round draft pedigree - although this is his 3rd team I think. Anyway, is there any chance he’s a surprise guy they think could step into the rotation as the 3rd/4th DE? I don’t see Miller or Sweat being ready for a big role.

The Eagles are his fourth team, ha. Sometimes it takes time for the light to go for players, and maybe that'll be the case for Hall, but I would put him in sort of the same bucket as Miller or Sweat, in that any positive contributions he gives you this season would have to be viewed as a pleasant surprise. I do believe the Eagles will give him a legitimate chance to compete for a job.

Question from Matthew: Why aren't you verified on Twitter?

I get this question abnormally often. The short answer... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. To me, it really doesn't matter, honestly.

I used to write for, and they were in the process of getting all their writers verified. I left while that was going on to join PhillyVoice, which hadn't even launched yet (and wouldn't for another three months or so). I think everyone at got verified a few days after I left.

When PhillyVoice tried to get all its writers verified after its launch, Twitter wouldn't verify the unverified among us because we were just a startup at the time. I don't think we've tried since, and it's my understanding that Twitter isn't verifying anyone at the moment anyway, and hasn't for quite a while? Or something like that?

I'm pretty certain that I could get verified if I just annoyed the bejesus out of Twitter until they put a little check mark next to my name. I'm very good at that. It took me 10 months to find out the conditions of the Allen Barbre trade, but I eventually got it, because it just became a stupid challenge to me. On this, I just don't care. In fact, answering this question is probably the most effort I have ever spent on the subject.

MORE: My (mostly) useless, way-too-early Eagles 53-man roster projection

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