Eagles Cut Starting LB to Possibly Clear Salary for Cowboys CB

Byron Jones

Getty Byron Jones

The start of free agency is exactly one month away, but the first domino may have fallen. The Eagles could be major players on March 18.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the team has released Nigel Bradham and freed up roughly $4.4 million in salary-cap space. The Eagles’ starting middle linebacker was set to carry a $9.7 million cap hit in 2020, with a dead money sum of $5.3 million. The 30-year-old was often injured and mired in off-the-field incidents which helped expedite his exit from Philadelphia.

While the move leaves the Eagles weak at the linebacker position, it certainly lends credence to the possibility of them signing a big-name cornerback. Nate Gerry will likely step in for Bradham in the middle, unless they sign a linebacker in free agency.

Bradham told reporters at the end of the season that he expected to be back with the Eagles in 2020. It was widely speculated he would probably be released and the team has now made it official.

“Yeah, I don’t see why not,” Bradham said of returning in 2020, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I think I had a pretty good season. I think I played well. I had a couple injuries but that’s nothing I can control. That’s how it goes. I know this game is crazy, there’s a lot of decisions to be made. You just never know.”

Cowboys CB Heavily Linked to Joining Eagles in 2020

The Eagles have been linked to a slew of big-name cornerbacks, including Darius Slay, Chris Harris, Bradley Roby and Byron Jones. The latter has emerged as their primary target, per CBS Sports.

Jones, a first-round pick (27th overall) of the Cowboys in 2015, is a free agent and Dallas isn’t expected to make him an offer. Unlike Slay, the Eagles wouldn’t have to trade for him. Like Slay, Jones is looking to break the bank.

The 27-year-old cornerback — Jones will turn 28 on Sept. 26 — is reportedly seeking a deal worth at least $16 million per year, including $50 million in overall guarantees. The Eagles need secondary help either way.

“Anything under $16 million per year with fewer than $50 million in overall guarantees would be surprising,” former NFL agent Joel Corry told CBS Sports. “I doubt he’s back in Dallas. I’ve thought his long-term fate with the Cowboys was sealed when (right tackle) La’el Collins signed a contract extension at the end of last preseason.”

The report mentions both the Eagles and New York Giants as the two leading landing spots for Jones in free agency. The Giants have also been getting hype to select Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah with the No. 4 pick in April’s draft, per ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr.

Tee Higgins to Philadelphia in Latest Mock Draft

Meanwhile, Mel Kiper Jr. has targeted Clemson receiver Tee Higgins to the Eagles at No. 21 in his latest mock draft.

The two top candidates being floated around by draft experts for Philadelphia are either Higgins or Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III. Here is how Kiper described Higgins and why he makes sense for the Eagles in the first round:

I just like the fit with Higgins in Philadelphia, as he has great size (6-4) and elite ball skills, boxing out defenders to high-point the ball on sideline routes. We know all about the Eagles’ problems at receiver last season, so this fills a massive void. If Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson can stay healthy — and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside can take a leap in Year 2 — this position could go from a weakness to strength. Safety is another position to keep an eye on in Philly, with Malcolm Jenkins’ unhappiness (and age — 32) and Rodney McLeod potentially leaving in free agency.

Free agency begins on March 18 and the NFL Draft kicks off on April 23. Buckle up, Eagles fans.

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