Eagles Facing Serious Salary Cap Issues After Historic NFL Agreement

howie roseman

Getty Head coach Doug Pederson of the Philadelphia Eagles talks with general manager Howie Roseman before a game against the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field on January 1, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Eagles’ salary cap woes have reached worrisome levels. Unless the team gets really creative next offseason.

Philadelphia is facing a salary cap debt of $71.53 million in 2021, per OverTheCap, and that figure is the absolute worst in the league out of all 32 teams. The Eagles were originally on the hook for $50 million but their debt sky-rocketed following the NFL and NFLPA reaching a historic revenue agreement to deal with safety protocols stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Eagles will be facing some tough decisions (and grim realities) in constructing what they hope is a Super Bowl roster next season as they attempt to maneuver the tight salary cap. The biggest elephant in the room is Zach Ertz who has been lobbying for a new deal. His preference is to remain in Philly and retire in midnight green.

The Pro Bowl tight end has a potential opt-out in 2021 ($7.76 dead cap) as 2022 and 2023 are dummy years in his contract that automatically void. Ertz hasn’t come out and said he wants to be the highest-paid tight end in the NFL but that’s the assumption.

San Francisco’s George Kittle will set the market and the Eagles will have to decide whether to invest a fortune in Ertz or trade him. Remember, Dallas Goedert is coming off his rookie deal after the 2021 season and require a lucrative extension.

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Eagles Have Options to Lower Cap Hit

It seems unlikely the Eagles will be players in free agency in 2021 considering the financial restraints on them. However, GM Howie Roseman and salary cap wizard Jake Rosenberg have shown a knack for manipulating the cap and there are a few moving pieces that could help them navigate this dilemma.

For starters, the Alshon Jeffery situation remains fluid and maybe he enhances his trade value with a solid 2020 campaign. He would need to come back healthy and match his 2017 or 2018 production (1,632 yards over those two seasons). If not, the Eagles could cut him with the post-June 1 designation for $10.6 million. They put themselves in a real hole when they restructured his contract in 2019.

Speaking of receivers, what about DeSean Jackson? His ignorant outburst soured him with the fan base and some in the front office, plus he hasn’t endured a full 16-game schedule since 2013 — that was the last time he qualified for the Pro Bowl. The Eagles could let him go in 2021 and save $5 million. They did just draft his replacement as the outside speed threat.

Marquise Goodwin is another interesting name. The receiver is marked at $7 million on OverTheCap, but NJ Advance Media reported that Goodwin is off the books next year after restructuring his contract. And he dropped his base salary from $3.95 million to $1.35 million for this season.

Extending Fletcher Cox, Restructuring Carson Wentz

The team has options among its core superstars, too. Carson Wentz’s blockbuster $128 million contract extension eats at the books … unless they convert a portion of his base salary for a given year into a new signing bonus. According to Jason Fitzgerald, they could double down on Wentz and drop his cap number to $16.3 million in 2021.

Similarly, the Eagles could extend All-Pro Fletcher Cox for two more years and potentially free up another $12 million by investing heavily in a proven star. They could also look at restructuring the recent contracts of Brandon Brooks ($14.5 million cap hit) and Lane Johnson ($16.5 million) to ease the burden on the books. Philadelphia will have Jason Peters’ $6 million off the books.

Plus, they could choose to walk away from defensive tackle Malik Jackson in a move that would free up $10 million. The latter may depend on how healthy Jackson is, especially after the team sunk a ton of money in another defensive tackle: Javon Hargrave. And maybe they extend Derek Barnett and spread out his $10 million base salary in a creative and cost-cutting way.

Yes, the situation is dire looking ahead to 2021 but it’s not impossible to make it work. The Eagles should be able to create enough wiggle room within their core roster. It just makes it very hard for them to be major players in free agency.

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