2019 was a grind at times but it was oddly entertaining to Eagles fans, even if mentally exhausting. Do you find yourselves tuning into playoff games between remaining contenders and daydreaming instead about roster changes coming up for the Birds?
Practical minds first consider the budget.
French Lady Fan Nathalie used to hate it when EYE wrote about money. Her style point is respected, keep the money talk out of sports commentary, it is an unnecessary distraction from the actual competition on the field of play.
Her global point is also valid: you can’t buy a championship.
Still, money makes the NFL world go ’round. I doubt many fans would be satisfied with an all-volunteer army of amateur athletes playing simply for the love of the game. Ironically, even if that was the way it was, millions of dollars would be bet by fans on the outcome of the games anyway.
So I won’t write about the money, but Eliot Shorr-Parks will.
We used to criticize some of Shorr-Parks’ early work for NJ.com, because too many takes lacked real football insights. But he’s gotten better, and he’s really good when it comes to the money.
“Since Howie Roseman became general manager of the team, the Eagles have never had a financial situation like the one they are currently in. They are projected to have a ton of cap space. They have a ton of big-money veterans on the books. They both have the ability to make some major changes while also being locked in to almost all of their high-priced players.
“Watching how Roseman, who has stressed the need for change on the roster, handles it is going to be fascinating.”
According to Over the Cap, the top salary cap experts out there, the Eagles are projected to have a whopping $46.9 million in cap space this offseason. That number is easily the highest it has been in years and perhaps the most cap space Howie Roseman has ever had to work with.
“That number could get even higher depending on what Roseman decides to do with four key players.
“The first two are receivers Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson. Both signed to new deals last season, both Jackson and Jeffery missed significant time this season due to injury. Roseman talked at his season-ending press conference about a need to get younger. With Jeffery set to be 30 by the time next season starts, and Jackson at 33 years old already, Roseman’s desire to reshape the roster could start with moving on from both starting receivers.”
Moving on from both could come down to whether another team wants to make a trade.
According to the Over the Cap calculator, the Eagles can trade Jeffery this offseason and have it only cost them roughly $1 million in cap space. Trading Jackson would actually save them around $1 million in cap space. Trade them both, and believe it or not, according to Over The Cap the Eagles would end up with $47 million in cap space — roughly $100,000 more in cap space than they had with both on the roster. The trades would leave dead money on the books — about $24 million — but it wouldn’t impact the team’s cap space very much, which is a big positive.
Releasing them is a different story.
“If the Eagles release Jeffery, their cap space goes from $46.9 million to $36.2 million. If they release Jackson, their cap space goes from $46.9 million to $43.0 million. Release both, and they go from $46.9 million to $32.3 million. Eating roughly $14 million in cap space is likely something Roseman is not going to be willing to do, meaning to move on from either or both players, a trade partner is likely going to be required.
“An interesting dynamic is whether Roseman can stomach bringing back both. If he has to move on from one, and can’t trade either, Jackson makes more sense to keep on the field — he stretches the field, is recovered from his abdomen injury and has all offseason to prepare. The issue is that cutting Jeffery eats up way more cap space. Roseman likely won’t bring both back, and it will be interesting to see how he handles the two receivers.”
The other potential moves Roseman could make involve safety Malcolm Jenkins and linebacker Nigel Bradham, two of the only players the Eagles could move on from this season and save a substantial amount of money.
If the Eagles can’t strike a new deal with Jenkins, he has made it clear he won’t be playing for the team next season. The Eagles would save $4.7 million if they either released or traded Jenkins, who is currently set to have a $10.88 million cap hit. Chances are, whether it is a new deal or a trade/release, Jenkins cap hit will be lower in 2020 than $10.88 million. So they will likely open up some money there.
Linebacker Nigel Bradham is also a potential cap casualty. The Eagles can save $4.6 million if they release or trade Bradham, a move that is pretty likely.
“Another factor in team’s cap space this offseason is going to be the new contract they will almost certainly hand tight end Zach Ertz. The new deal will likely be one of the richest in the NFL for a tight end, but if it is constructed how Roseman usually likes to construct his deals, it will likely lower the $12.2 million cap hit Ertz is on the books for in 2020.
“What way the Eagles go this offseason remains to be seen. When projecting how much cap space they will have to work with, however, it is safe to say they at worst should have about $35 million before even attempting to sign free agents. If they can find trade partners for Jeffery and Jackson, that number will be even higher — and could be around $47 million.
“Either way, Roseman has made it clear he needs to reshape his roster this season — and it looks like he is going to have more than enough money to do it.”
So there’s your first budget meeting for 2020, courtesy of Eliot the money guy.
You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org!