A lot could change for the Philadelphia Eagles on June 1. The NFL’s salary cap rules change on that date and it could be the first domino to fall in trade negotiations for a key veteran player.
The Eagles are expected to trade or cut three-time Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz in the coming days. The 30-year-old didn’t report to voluntary spring OTAs last week and isn’t planning to join them when they resume on June 2. Philadelphia can save $8.5 million in space by getting rid of Ertz after 4 p.m. on June 1. And they might be forced to give him his outright release if a recent report from Sports Illustrated is true.
According to NFL Insider Albert Breer, Ertz doesn’t have many teams banging down his door due to his advanced age and injury history. Plus, the Super Bowl champion looks a bit out of shape. Breer wrote:
Having talked to teams, and in part because of his health issues, most say Ertz looks heavier, stiffer and slower now than he did in his prime. He’s also turning 31 this year and is due a lump-sum $8.5 million in this, the final year of the contract extension he signed back in 2016. Now, knowing the kind of guy Ertz is, I’m not going to tell anyone that he can’t rebound from a bad 2020. But at his age, he’d be beating the odds to do so.
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Alshon Jeffery, Malik Jackson Come Off Books
Ertz won’t be the only Eagles veteran coming off the books. The Eagles have already designated defensive tackle Malik Jackson and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery as post-June 1 cuts and those additional funds will officially kick in on June 1 at 4 p.m. Jackson signed with the Cleveland Browns in the offseason, while Jeffery remains a free agent.
Philadelphia currently has $3.72 million in salary-cap space, per OverTheCap, but that figure will jump up to roughly $16.31 million after Jackson, Jeffery, Ertz are cleared. There is decent speculation that the team could be waiting to use that extra money on free-agent cornerback Steven Nelson.
Julio Jones Remains Wild Card Option
Eagles cornerback Darius Slay tried to get the Julio Jones conversation started last week with a Twitter plea. Slay later clarified that he was only joking (well, kind of) about the team trying to trade for the seven-time Pro Bowler and future Hall-of-Famer.
But Slay wasn’t the only one making an appeal for Jones. SportsRadio 94WIP’s Eliot Shorr-Parks — huge grain of salt here since he’s a bit of an unreliable rumor monger — wrote that the Eagles should “definitely explore” a trade for the 32-year-old receiver. He gives them an insurance policy for DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.
The need for Jones is an obvious one for the Eagles. Last season the Eagles had one of the worst set of receivers in the NFL, partially due to injury, but also because of poor drafting. It is possible that new head coach Nick Sirianni is able to get more out of Jalen Reagor and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside than the last coaching staff was, but betting on it is a risky move. Even counting on DeVonta Smith to be the team’s No. 1, every-down receiver is a bit of a risk. There is plenty of upside in the Eagles’ group of receivers, but they definitely lack a quality veteran they can count on.
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