If the Eagles are serious about moving on from Alshon Jeffery, there is a way. There is always a way.
Jeffery’s restructured contract apparently has a default clause containing language that makes it possible for the team to move on from the enigmatic receiver, per The Inquirer‘s Jeff McLane. The circumstances are very specific, including violations like “engaging in hazardous activities” or “making any public comment that criticizes the team.”
The latter is what Jeffery has been accused of doing following disparaging remarks regarding Carson Wentz attributed to an “anonymous source” reportedly deemed to be Jeffery. This would fall under the category of conduct detrimental to the team and was similarly used as leverage in 2006 when the Eagles rid themselves of Terrell Owens.
It certainly seems like the Eagles have a case. Here is what McLane wrote back in November 2019:
He could default in a number of ways – by refusing to report, by engaging in hazardous activities, by being suspended by the league for violating the substance-abuse or personal conduct policy, or by making any public comment that criticizes the team, teammates, coaches, ownership, etc.
The defaults are standard for player contracts. But the latter example could be used, in light of the WIP report, if the team “reasonably determines, in its sole discretion,” per Jeffery’s contract, that his comments warrant forfeiture.
Getting Rid of Jeffery is Extremely Complicated
Eagles GM Howie Roseman has long defended Alshon Jeffery but maybe it has been a front. Remember, the organization seemed keen on retaining offensive coordinator Mike Groh and wide receivers coach Carson Walch … until they weren’t anymore.
“We had a conversation with Alshon before the season, and he took a pay cut in exchange for guaranteeing,” Roseman told reporters in his end-of-year comments. “For us, we were trying to create as much flexibility going forward with our roster to create cap space to improve the football team.”
The casual fan has suggested that the Eagles simply cut Jeffery and move on. Slide second-year man JJ Arcega-Whiteside into his “jump-ball specialist” role and go draft Alabama speedster Henry Ruggs III. It’s not that simple.
The Eagles would absorb a $26 million dead money charge by releasing Jeffery, as Philly Voice‘s Jimmy Kempski pointed out, and the team’s 2020 cap space would decrease from about $41 million currently to around $30 million.
Foot Injury Makes Moving On Even Harder This Year
The fact that Alshon Jeffery is injured — he underwent foot surgery last December for a Lisfranc sprain — makes it almost impossible to trade him, too. He’ll likely start the season on the PUP list and the Eagles would have to surrender a draft pick to deal him to another team, maybe as high as a second-round pick.
The best chance at unloading Jeffery would be for the NFL to reach a new collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA, something that is currently being negotiated. Per NFL agent Joel Corry, that would spread his $26 dead-cap hit out over two years: $16.639 in dead money in 2020 and $9.467 million in 2021.
“A new CBA could be Philadelphia’s best friend, because you’d go back to the old rules, presumably, and there’d be post June 1 treatment,” Corry told Philly Voice. “If we’re operating under the current CBA, it’s virtually impossible to cut him this year.”
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