March 07, 2023
Over the last few weeks, we have taken a position-by-position look at which Philadelphia Eagles players are likely to stay with the team in 2023, and which ones are likely to be playing elsewhere.
Here I thought we'd round up all of the Eagles' free agents from that series, and project what kind of money they could find on the open market should they leave, and whether or not the Eagles will be rewarded compensatory picks for each potentially departing player.
To note, the maximum number of compensatory picks that can be awarded to any team in one season is four.
Hargrave was a star in 2022, racking up 60 tackles and 11 sacks. He also had a good 2021 season, making 63 tackles and 7.5 sacks, plus a trip to the Pro Bowl. There's perhaps a fair argument to make that while Hargrave will make an occasional play in the backfield in the run game, he is not a great run stuffer, but he is clearly one of the best pass rushing interior defensive linemen in the NFL.
Hargrave's contract voided on February 20, and whether he returns to the team or not his previous contract will count for $11,956,000 on the 2023 salary cap in dead money. He will be an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year, and he is certain to attract lucrative offers. Here is a look at the highest paid interior defensive linemen in the NFL, via OverTheCap:
The unknown with Hargrave is at what point will the Eagles choose not to match other offers from around the league. If I had to guess, I would say that line of demarcation is around $17 million per season.
Stay or go: The unknown with Hargrave is at what point will the Eagles choose not to match other offers from around the league. If I had to guess, I would say that line of demarcation is around $17 million per season. The Eagles have proven that (a) they value interior defensive linemen more than most teams, and (b) they often overvalue their own players. With only mild confidence, I'll say stay.
Projected payday: 3 years, $48 million.
Compensatory pick? If Hargrave leaves, it will likely be because he was blown away by some crazy amount of money, and could qualify at the third-round pick level.
This past offseason the Eagles had an obvious need at the second cornerback spot opposite Slay, and in Bradberry they found what seemed like an upgrade over 2021 starter Steven Nelson.
In his two seasons with the Giants, Bradberry had an impressive 35 pass breakups and 7 INTs. He was a cap casualty, when the cap-strapped Giants decided to cut him rather than convert his salary into a signing bonus and spread out his cap hit over future years. That was curious decision by the Giants, given that (a) Bradberry was arguably their best defender the two seasons he played there, and (b) their cornerback depth was among the worst in the NFL.
Had Bradberry been a free agent in March, he almost certainly would have attracted a better offer than the $7.25 million he signed in Philly on a one-year deal. The Giants pretty much did the Eagles a huge favor by making him available once other teams around the league had already made their moves at corner.
And then during the season, Bradberry was fantastic. According to PFF (grain of salt, as they often misallocate targets), opposing quarterbacks completed just 40 of 87 targets (46.0%) against Bradberry for 429 yards (4.9 yards per target), 2 TDs, and 3 INTs, for a combined passer rating of just 54.2. He finished with 3 INTs and 17 pass breakups.
Stay or go: During his introductory press conference with the Eagles last May, Bradberry was well aware of how low his 2022 contract was relative to other comparable corners around the league, and he acknowledged that he was playing in 2022 with an eye toward cashing in on free agency in 2023. More recently, he once again stated that he was looking forward to maximizing his value on the open market, ideally with a contender. The Eagles can offer the "contender" part, but they are very likely not going to be able to match the best offers that Bradberry receives on the open market. Go.
Projected payday: 3 years, $51 million.
Compensatory pick? Yes. Third or fourth round.
In late August, the Eagles traded their 2023 fifth-round pick and the worse of their two sixth-round picks in 2024 for Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and a 2025 seventh-round pick. Gardner-Johnson was reportedly traded from New Orleans to Philly only after contract extension talks broke down with the Saints' front office. That's a pretty good indication that Gardner-Johnson wasn't interested in any sort of team-friendly deal.
In Philly, Gardner-Johnson proceeded to lead the NFL in interceptions, with six, despite missing five games with a lacerated kidney. He did not make the Pro Bowl because of a dumb NFL rule that makes players ineligible for voting if they are on short-term IR.
Gardner-Johnson played out the final year of his rookie contract in 2022, and is a free agent this offseason. The Eagles would no doubt like to retain Gardner-Johnson, but that should prove to be difficult, as he is likely to attract lucrative offers from other teams around the league.
There was some recent scuttlebutt that Gardner-Johnson would be franchise tagged if he and the Eagles could not reach a long-term deal before the start of free agency. That is simply not a realistic option. To begin, the Eagles only have $3.8 million in cap space, as of this writing, according to OverTheCap.com. The cost to tag safeties this year is roughly $14.5 million, so the Eagles would have to clear up significant space just to tag Gardner-Johnson, and keeping him on the cap at that number for the bulk of the offseason would limit their flexibility with the rest of the roster.
Stay or go: Last offseason, the Eagles were motivated players in the free agent safety market, but they came up empty when prices got to be too high. They were interested in signing Marcus Williams, for example, who instead inked a five-year, $70 million deal with Baltimore, and also missed out on guys like Justin Reid and Tyrann Mathieu. And that was when they had money to spend. Now, they don't. Go.
Projected payday: Gardner-Johnson's market will be fascinating, since he has a reputation as a difficult personality. Setting that aspect aside, purely as a player I'll project five years, $75 million.
Compensatory pick? Yes, fourth round.
Seumalo quietly stacked together a pair of very good seasons for the Eagles in 2021 and 2022, and will be hitting the free agent market in his prime. He will be entering his eighth season in the NFL in 2023, and offers the versatility to play either guard position, as well as center. He has also been called upon to play both tackle spots in a pinch during his career in Philly. With so many teams desperate for quality offensive line starters, Seumalo is likely to get plenty of attention on the open market.
Stay or go: The Eagles would love to keep Seumalo (perhaps even more than guys like Bradberry or Gardner-Johnson), but it feels a lot like the open market is going to price them out. It's also worth noting that the Eagles do have Cam Jurgens waiting in the wings as a fill-in at RG should Seumalo leave and Jason Kelce stay. Go.
Projected payday: If I'm Seumalo's representation, I'm looking at the three-year, $40-million deal signed by Laken Tomlinson with the Jets last offseason, and I'd be seeking more. This may sound nuts, but I'll guess he lands a deal in the ballpark of $14 million per season. Let's say three years, $42 million.
Compensatory pick? Yes, fourth round.
In an otherwise stellar offseason by Howie Roseman and the Eagles' front office, one mistake was signing Cox to a one-year deal worth $14 million. Cox is an Eagles all-time great, however, he had his worst year as a pro in 2021, when he had 35 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles in 16 games, often appearing disinterested and griping about his role in the scheme. While he did play harder and was more disruptive on the field during the back half of that season, it's hard to imagine how the team felt that a valuation of $14 million was reasonable.
In 2022, Cox had better stats (43 tackles, 7 sacks) than the previous year, but he never truly felt like an impact player, and it has become pretty easy to see that he is a player in decline.
Stay or go: Cox doesn't strike me as a "hometown discount" kind of guy. If he doesn't have interest in playing on a bargain deal, it should be time for the organization to finally recognize that he is not close to the elite player he once was, and allow him to move on to another team to finish out his career. Go.
Projected payday: 1 year, $10 million.
Compensatory pick? Yes, but because Cox has 10+ accrued seasons in the NFL, a fifth-round comp pick is the highest value the Eagles can recoup if they lose him.
Sanders had a very good season in the stat sheet and was named to the Pro Bowl after rushing 259 times for 1,269 yards (4.9 YPC) and 11 TDs, finishing fifth in the NFL in rushing yards. For the first time since 2019, Sanders played in every game, and his 259 carries beat his previous season average of 160 by 99 carries. However, he has remained a flawed player in many ways.
Sanders' market should be interesting to watch. If another team makes him a good offer, the Eagles should be wary of overpaying for a player whose skill set really shouldn't be that hard to replace behind an elite run-blocking offensive line.
With a stacked group of free agent running backs all competing for lucrative contracts this offseason, there's a decent chance that Sanders finds a soft market and is left to sign a one-year prove-it deal, whether that's in Philadelphia or elsewhere.
Stay or go: If the Eagles had more cap space to play with this offseason, they might splurge a tiny bit to bring Sanders back, but they may feel like they can get similar production from a cheaper player. Go.
Projected payday: 1 year, $5 million.
Compensatory pick? Yes, sixth round.
Edwards had 159 tackles on the season (10 for loss), including nine games in which he had double-digit tackles. He also chipped in two sacks and seven pass breakups. Those 159 tackles were good for seventh in the NFL, and the next-closest Eagles tackler (Kyzir White) had 49 fewer tackles.
Edwards is a tough, physical, instinctive linebacker who has seen his role increase each year after signing with the team as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2019. In those four seasons, he has become the Eagles' best linebacker, albeit on a team that doesn't place a high value on the position. It's fair to also note that while Edwards has made himself into a quality starting linebacker, he is also always going to be limited athletically, and the Chiefs were able to take advantage of him and White in the middle of the field in the Super Bowl.
He is a leader on the defense and the "green dot" signal caller, but the Eagles do still have to be careful in their internal evaluations of him. If, say, Jonathan Gannon convinces the Cardinals to throw a boatload of money at Edwards to be his signal caller while he implements his defensive scheme in Arizona, then the Eagles have to be careful not to overpay to retain him. Ultimately, I believe the Eagles value their homegrown players and a deal will get worked out. Stay.
Projected payday: 2 years, $14 million.
Compensatory pick? If Edwards left in free agency, he would qualify as a compensatory free agent. I'd say fifth-round pick.
Over the last half decade-plus, the Eagles had their share of free agent linebacker acquisitions who failed to even make it through a full season with the team, like Corey Nelson, Paul Worrilow, LaRoy Reynolds, L.J. Fort, Zach Brown, Jatavis Brown, and Eric Wilson. They have also had some terrible linebackers who did make it through full seasons that Eagles fan perhaps wished hadn't, like Nate Gerry, for example.
In that sense, providing competent linebacker play was a low bar for White to clear, which he did, at least comparatively speaking. On the season, he had 110 tackles (three for loss), and seven pass breakups. He rarely made major, easily identifiable errors resulting in big plays for the offense, and he also did not make any big plays in terms of takeaways, for the defense. He was a solid linebacker on a reasonable one-year deal.
Stay or go: Assuming the Eagles believe in Nakobe Dean to become a starter, it's unlikely that White will be back. Honestly, it would be alarming if the Eagles brought back both Edwards and White, signaling that they do not think Dean is ready. Go.
Projected payday: 1 year, $3.5 million.
Compensatory pick? Seventh round.
Epps finished third on the team with 94 tackles. He also had 6 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, and no interceptions. He's a decent enough placeholder at safety on a loaded defense, but there should be concern about his play if the Eagles lose a bunch of good players this offseason, and there's an argument to be made that Reed Blankenship was a better player than Epps when he got his opportunities.
Stay or go: Epps is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason, but I'm skeptical that he'll have much of a market and could return on a team-friendly deal. Stay.
Projected payday: 1 year, $3.5 million.
Compensatory pick? Epps would count toward the compensatory pick formula, but it's unlikely that he would qualify for anything higher than a seventh-round pick, should he leave.
When the Eagles sent a fourth-round pick to the Bears for Quinn at the trade deadline, it was a reasonable enough risk. They were acquiring an extra pass rusher for the stretch run who finished second in the NFL a season ago with 18.5 sacks. The risk did not pay off. Including the playoffs, Quinn appeared in nine games, playing 112 snaps. He had 4 tackles and 0 sacks.
Projected payday: 1 year, $5 million somewhere? I dunno, who cares?
Stay or go: No explanation needed. Go.
Compensatory pick? No. Quinn and the Eagles agreed to shave a few years off the back of his contract, so he will not count toward the formula.
When the Eagles signed Pascal to a one-year contract last March, the logic made a lot of sense, in that he was a well-regarded blocking wide receiver who could do some of the meat and potatoes stuff that J.J. Arcega-Whiteside did in 2021, but with the ability to actually catch the football when it came his way.
And that's essentially what he was for the Eagles, playing a minor role in the Eagles' offense as a pass catcher, making only 15 catches for 150 yards and a TD, but doing a lot of the dirty work that freed up A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith to make plays. Pascal could find in free agency that he is something of a victim of his unselfishness, however, as he had his worst statistical season as a pro.
Stay or go: Pascal is likely destined to make something close to the veteran minimum in 2023, whether that's with the Eagles or some other team. The guess here is that the Eagles would like to have him back on those kinds of terms, but Pascal would have to accept once again that the ball simply won't come his way very often unless something bad happens to Brown or Smith. Perhaps the Eagles will bump his pay a little to stay aboard.
Projected payday: 1 year, $2.25 million.
Compensatory pick? If Pascal made enough money elsewhere, it would likely not rise above the seventh-round level.
The Eagles went 0-2 with Minshew as the starter in 2022. Against the Cowboys Week 16, he was 24 of 40 for 355 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 INTs. He mostly made good decisions, throwing with anticipation and subtly sidestepping the Cowboys' pass rush to extend plays and find receivers down the field, but the Birds would fall in a shootout.
Against the Saints Week 17, Minshew completed 18 of 32 passes for 274 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT, which doesn't look that bad in print, but the eye test showed quite clearly that there is very sizable difference between what Hurts is capable of on a football field, and Minshew's limitations. In Week 18, with a 1-seed on the line, the Eagles showed what they thought of Minshew's starting performances when they put an obviously hurt Hurts back out on the field against the Giants' backups to secure homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.
Stay or go: Minshew thinks that he is a starter in the NFL and he wants to play. That will only be possible in Philly if Hurts goes down with an injury. As such, he is likely to pursue opportunities around the league where there is a path to starting, and it's likely that the Eagles will be looking for a new backup in 2023. Go.
Projected payday: 1 year, $4.5 million.
Compensatory pick? Sixth round.
Dillard began the season on injured reserve with a broken bone in his forearm. He returned as the backup LT and added backup LG duties to his resume after Sua Opeta was demoted to the practice squad. He appeared in 12 games, but only played 37 offensive snaps on the season. As a former first-round pick, Dillard will go down as an Eagles draft bust.
Stay or go: There's a sentiment that Dillard can be a decent starting LT on another team. I'm less confident in that, but we'll see. He could very well attract a nice deal in free agency from a team willing to make that bet, but he is a near certainty to be playing elsewhere in 2023. Go.
Projected payday: I'm fascinated to see what kind of deal Dillard can land on the open market, and there are a wide range of potential outcomes. I'm going to guess that teams around the league will be wary of Dillard's four underachieving years in Philly, and he'll land a modest payday. Let's go with 1 year, $5 million. At yet, I wouldn't be surprised if some team desperate for help at LT paid him double that.
Compensatory pick? Fifth or sixth round.
Scott has now been with the Eagles since 2018, often filling in for an injured Sanders, usually against the Giants. In 2022, he carried 54 times for 217 yards (4.0 YPC) and 3 TDs, and didn't do much as a receiver (five catches for 15 yards).
Stay or go: The Eagles chose not to tender Scott as a restricted free agent a year ago, but he wound up coming back on a cheap deal. They can probably get Scott to come back at something close to the veteran minimum to torment the Giants for a couple games in 2023. Stay.
Projected payday: 1 year, $1.75 million.
Toth has appeared in nine games in the Eagles' regular offense over the last three years, despite being a fringe roster guy who has ping-ponged back and forth between the Eagles and Cardinals. After tearing an ACL in the meaningless Week 18 game against Dallas in 2021, he began the 2022 season on the PUP list and never appeared on the 53-man roster. Interestingly, he played center in that game, when he had previously only played tackle for the Eagles. Perhaps Jeff Stoutland sees something in him as a potential backup at multiple positions?
Stay or go: Toth should be healthy for 2023 training camp, and because the Eagles are likely to lose some offensive line depth he could have a decent enough chance of cracking the roster. I'll say stay.
Projected payday: Veteran minimum.
As has become his custom the last few offseasons, Kelce will soon decide whether he will continue to play, or if the Eagles' heartbreaking loss to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl was his last game. Last offseason Nick Sirianni sent Kelce a keg of beer as a way to try to convince him to come back for his twelfth NFL season. Kelce accepted, and led the league' best offensive line while earning his fifth first-team All-Pro nod along the way.
Kelce's contract will effectively void on June 3, so if he is to return, he'll have to agree to a new deal with the front office.
Stay or go: Kelce remains the best center in the world, and I would imagine that when you're the best in the world at something it's kind of hard to give that up. He also made it through the 2022 season without any injuries that caused him to miss time, so there's a reasonable enough bet that his body should feel OK by the time he makes his decision. This is purely a guess (no inside info here), but my bet is that he genuinely believes in Hurts and comes back for a chance to play with him another season. Stay.
Projected payday: Kelce signed a one-year deal worth $14 million last year, making him the highest-paid center in the NFL. He would still be the highest-paid center in 2023 if he signed the same deal, so let's just go with that.
Compensatory pick? The notion of Kelce playing for another team doesn't feel like a consideration at all. If he wants to come back play, the Eagles will have him.
Graham flourished in a smaller role in 2022, racking up 11 sacks in just 474 snaps. He will turn 35 in April, and he is on record as saying he wants to continue to play in his 14th season in 2023, and possibly even for another season beyond that. He has a complicated contract situation, which is detailed here, but the short-short version is that Graham is likely to be released with a June 1 designation in March, with sizeable dead money hits both in 2023 and 2024. He will then become a free agent, free to sign with any team.
Stay or go: Graham is reportedly getting outside interest from around the league, but it's hard to imagine him playing anywhere other than Philly. He feels likely to sign back with the team after being June 1 released, much like Fletcher Cox did last offseason. Stay.
Projected payday: 1 year, $9 million.
Compensatory pick? Since the Eagles will have released Graham before he hits the open market, he would not count toward the compensatory pick formula.
DT Ndamukong Suh, DT Linval Joseph, and P Brett Kern aren't expected to sign anywhere until well after the the compensatory free agency period is over (early May), if at all.
Above, we're projecting that the Eagles will lose eight players who will qualify toward the compensatory pick formula. Some of those projections will be right, some will be wrong, but what is clear is that they are going to lose a lot of players.
As noted above, the maximum number of compensatory picks that can be awarded to any team in one season is four.
The Eagles currently have eight picks in the 2024 NFL draft, shown here:
|1||Eagles' own pick|
|2||Eagles' own pick|
|3||Eagles' own pick|
|4||Eagles' own pick|
|5||From Vikings (can become fourth-round pick if conditions are met)|
|5||Eagles' own pick|
|6||Eagles' own pick, or the Titans' sixth-round pick, whichever is better|
You may as well go ahead and pencil in four more.
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