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December 01, 2016

Who will be the Eagles' cap casualties after the 2016 season?

Eagles NFL
120116RyanMathews Stephen Brashear/AP

Ryan Mathews will likely not be on the Eagles' roster in 2017.

From wide receiver to cornerback to pass rushers to the continued building of the offensive line, the Philadelphia Eagles have themselves quite a number of holes to fill this offseason, which they will need to address both in free agency and in the draft.

The Eagles are almost certainly going to have to address various positions in free agency, as they need immediate help and cannot take a long-term approach at a few spots. Wide receiver would, of course, be "Exhibit A" on that line of thinking.

And so, the Eagles are going to have shed some of their pricier contracts this offseason. Here's a look at some players of note with some time remaining on their contracts, and our projected view of their futures in Philadelphia.

Likely gone

(These are the players who should probably be let go whether or not the Eagles can find a trade partner for them).

• DE Connor Barwin: Barwin has become a valuable member of the Philadelphia community and he is a favorite of Jeffrey Lurie, I'm told. Unfortunately, from a football standpoint, he simply does not fit Jim Schwartz's 4-3 scheme. 

Throughout the Chip Kelly era, Barwin was one of the most valuable members in Billy Davis' 3-4 defense because of his versatility. Barwin can cover, rush the passer, and play the run, but is not a dominant player when doing any of those things.

In Schwartz's scheme, Barwin is being asked to beat left tackles mano-e-mano, which is not his strength. Schwartz needs his front four to be able to generate pressure on their own, without the benefit of blitzing, and Barwin has simply been invisible far too often during long stretches of games.

In 2017, Barwin will count for $8,350,000 against the cap, $7,750,000 of which the Eagles can save if they cut or trade him. That is a figure that the Eagles simply cannot keep on their books for the production Barwin has provided.

RB Ryan Mathews: In 2017, Mathews will count for $5 million against the salary cap, $4 million of which the Eagles can save if they trade or cut him. For a guy who is always injured and has ball security issues, it feels like a no-brainer to move on.

CB Leodis McKelvin: McKelvin will count for $3,450,000 on the cap in 2017, $3,200,000 of which the Eagles can save if the Eagles cut him. Leodis, we hardly knew ye.

Can they find a trade partner?

LB Mychal Kendricks: Kendricks is the third linebacker in the Eagles' pecking order, behind Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham, who have both played far more snaps so far this season.

Eagles LBs Snaps 
 Nigel Bradham680 
 Jordan Hicks665 
 Mychal Kendricks205 

Kendricks is not worth the $6,600,000 he'll count against the cap in 2017, however, the Eagles would only save $1,800,000 of that if they cut or traded him. While Kendricks has been brutally bad at times, he has flashed his athletic ability at other times. The $1,800,000 savings the Eagles would receive would not be worth cutting him, but if some team out there were intrigued by Kendricks' potential, a mid- to late-round pick might convince the Eagles to cut their losses on a bad contract.

Likely staying

C Jason Kelce: On the downside, Kelce has committed a somewhat alarming number of penalties, he has had more than his share of bad shotgun snaps, and will often struggle against bigger DTs. On the plus side, Kelce has yet to allow a sack all season long, and he certainly has his good moments, like the ones we showed a week ago against the Seahawks.

If the Eagles were to cut or trade Kelce next offseason, they would save $3,800,000 of his $6,200,000 cap number in 2017.

Building a starting five along the offensive line isn't easy. When you factor in that at some point you're likely going to lose a starter or two during the season, the number of offensive linemen you have who can play at the NFL level becomes extremely important. Kelce isn't without his faults, but cutting him would help deplete the Eagles' offensive line depth, and at a savings of just under $4 million, moving on from him just isn't worth it at this time for a player who does offer some attractive qualities.

OG Allen Barbre: Barbre will count for $1,950,000 on the cap next year, $1,800,000 of which the Eagles can save if they cut him. With Isaac Seumalo waiting in the wings, there is perhaps a thinking that the Eagles could opt to put Barbre's money to other use.

No way. Barbre can play four spots along the offensive line, which is very valuable. Whether he starts next season or serves as something of a "sixth man," Barbre's cap number is great value.

DE Marcus Smith: Like it or not, Smith will probably survive the entirety of his rookie contract. In 2017, Smith will count for $2,481,533 against the cap, $1,483,515 of which the Eagles will save if they cut or trade him. If indeed the Eagles cut or trade Connor Barwin, the Eagles will be down a player on their depth chart at defensive end. While he is clearly a first round bust, Smith hasn't been awful this season, and he's a contributor (although not necessarily a big playmaker) on the Eagles' special teams units.

Sorry, but the Eagles are stuck with him

WR Nelson Agholor: The earliest the Eagles can release Agholor, barring some kind of off-the-field incident, will be during the 2018 offseason, as we pointed out in detail a few weeks ago. The best the Eagles can hope for with Agholor is a bust-for-bust trade, which will very difficult to pull off.

Pray that he doesn't retire

OT Jason Peters: With so many holes on the roster, if Peters decides to play one more year, the Eagles could put off addressing the offensive tackle position for one more year. Peters and Lane Johnson would give the Eagles a high-quality bookend tandem and would allow Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Dillon Gordon to continue to develop behind the scenes.

In 2017, Peters will count for $11,200,000 against the cap, $9,200,000 of which the Eagles would save if they cut or traded him.

There are some who believe Peters' money could be better used elsewhere. I disagree. At $9,575,000 per year, Peters is the 10th highest-paid OT in the NFL, on a per year basis:

Player Team Avg./Year
Trent Williams Redskins $13,200,000
Terron Armstead Saints $13,000,000
Tyron Smith Cowboys $12,200,000
David Bakhtiari Packers $12,000,000
Eric Fisher Chiefs $12,000,000
Cordy Glenn Bills $12,000,000
Joe Thomas Browns $11,500,000
Anthony Castonzo Colts $10,953,000
Russell Okung Broncos $10,600,000
Nate Solder Patriots $10,031,000
Jason Peters Eagles $9,575,000

He's actually a bargain.

Peters has hinted that he will be back next season, and the Eagles would dodge a huge bullet if he returns.

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