The Eagles may face salary cap problems in 2017, but there’s no need to panic

NFL: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Oct 19, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Connor Barwin (98) reacts with the crowd after a stop against the New York Giants during the second half at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles won 27-7. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles are entering uncharted territory once the 2017 offseason gets underway. They’re facing salary cap issues, ones that might raise a few worries. Let’s take a look at the Eagles salary cap forecast for 2017.

A trusted cap space website, overthecap.com, has the Eagles scheduled to have only a little over $3 million, in cap space in 2017. This is with their projection of a $166 million dollar base NFL salary cap for 2017 (a little under $11 million dollar salary cap increase, compared to 2016 NFL salary cap). The Eagles are going to have to get creative, in order to create some cap space..especially with so many players entering their final year of contract.

The first thing they’ll have to do, is figure out what to do with quarterback Sam Bradford. He’s slated to be the Eagles starting quarterback in 2016, that much we do know, but beyond that is in question. He has a cap number of $22.5 million for 2017, that is way too much. Removing him is the best way to create cap space.

The Eagles could trade Bradford during the 2017 offseason to a quarterback needy team. If they are able to do so, they’ll free up a total of $17 million in cap space. But, if they are unable to find a trading partner, releasing him is likely. Releasing Bradford will free up $13 million, in cap space. The significant amounts of cap space given that would be freed up by moving on from Bradford is just too much to pass on. Plus if Bradford does play lights-out in 2016, he is only going to want a bigger contract..something the Eagles just can’t afford to give him.

For the sake of this scenario, Bradford we will say that Bradford has moved on from the team by the end of next season. That alone gives the Eagles in $16-20 million in cap space. What’s next? Look no further than left tackle Jason Peters. The Eagles decided to bring Peters back to be the left tackle for the 2016 season. New head coach Doug Pederson knew Peters well from his first stint as an Eagles coach and wanted to keep the veteran tackle around for his leadership qualities. The additions to the Offensive Line made in the offseason should act as an insurance policy if Peters has less left in the tank than expected.

Well..as much as many of us love Jason Peters, this is could likely pan out to be his last season as an Eagle. He’ll be 35 heading into the 2017 season, plus the Eagles just gave Lane Johnson a left tackle type contract extension. So clearly, they have an idea of this situation coming to an end, as well.

Jason Peters carries an $11.2 million dollar cap figure for the 2017 season. The Eagles can free up $9.2 million by releasing him, or trading him. The likelihood of him being traded is doubtful however. Teams aren’t willing to part with assets for a 35 year old left tackle regardless of the talent level. Teams would be even more reluctant to part with a tackle who is struggling with a degenerative injury.

We’re already at $25.2-29.2 million, in potential Eagles salary cap space for 2017. Now what? Well, defensive end Connor Barwin might be next. Of course, the Eagles can approach Barwin, asking him to restructure his deal, and ultimately lowering his salary cap. This wouldn’t be the most surprising thing to happen considering he already renegotiated his contract just over a year ago following his breakout season. But, he might end up dropping down the depth chart in 2016. Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham are poised to be the Eagles starting defensive ends in the new 4-3 scheme and whilst Barwin led the NFC in sacks just two seasons ago, he could be the odd man out come 2017.

Connor Barwin has not only become a fan favorite, but a respected leader on, and off the field. He’s a vocal voice in the Philadelphia community as well. But, the NFL is a business and the Eagles might be forced to make a business move. This could be a tough pill to swallow, for the organization.

Connor Barwin carries a $8.3 million dollar cap figure, in 2017. If the team decides to either release, or trade him, it’ll free up $7.75 millon dollars in cap space. Now, there’s a chance the Eagles decide to hang on to Barwin for 2017, which is understandable. Especially since, cutting/trading him, will free up $10.25 million in 2018 salary cap space.

Okay, now we’re in a much better circumstance, regarding the 2017 salary cap space. With these projected moves, the Eagles will have $32.9-36.9 million dollars in cap space. Will that be enough? Sure, if they want to sign a couple of starters in free agency or potentially give Fletcher Cox the “great player money” he deserves without much consequence.

Of course, there’s some further subtraction the Eagles can make, in order to free up cap space. I’ll quickly highlight a few players that could potentially find themselves seeking NFL future’s elsewhere if the cap situation begins to haunt the Eagles.

Brandon Graham: would free up $5.5 million in space, if released.

Jason Kelce: would free up $3.8 million in space, if released.

Ryan Mathews: would free up $4 million in space, if he’s released (which is likely, considering he’s 30 years old going into 2017 season).

Leodis McKelvin: would free up $3.2 million in space, if he’s released.

So you see, there’s not much reason to panic, about the Eagles 2017 salary cap issues. Howie Roseman, is often regarded as a cap genius and did set the Eagles up in ways of getting out of this jam. There’s definitely ways they’ll be able to take on Fletcher Cox’s potential extension. The Eagles front office will likely have this situation handled, leaving no need to panic.

 

Mandatory Photo Credit: Bill Streicher- USA TODAY Sports

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