Eagles have to prioritize signing Jordan Matthews to a contract extension this offseason

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Although the Eagles aren’t swimming in cap space, their $9M of breathing room is actually the ninth highest in the league. With Bennie Logan among the notable pending free agents waiting to see if their future remains in the City of Brotherly Love, the Birds are in a relatively tight situation. That’s not going to change anytime soon however..which makes the extension of the most important skill-position player on the team, Jordan Matthews, absolutely imperative.

In 2017, the Eagles are predicted to have the 29th most cap space in the league and in 2018, the very least at just $5.6m. Jordan Matthews is entering his contract year with the Philadelphia Eagles and if the team don’t find the funds to secure his services for the future now, the situation has the potential to become a ticking free agency time bomb.

To look at where this money being lost, look no further than the team’s recent pursuit of securing cornerstone players. Brent Celek, Malcolm Jenkins, Zach Ertz, Lane Johnson, Vinny Curry and Fletcher Cox will cost the team a total of $65.7M in cap space during 2018 and next year’s cost isn’t exactly too friendly either due to the structuring of the deals.

The Eagles will also endure $5.5m in dead cap space from the Sam Bradford trade next season as well as preparing for a slew of players alongside Matthews, entering their contract year. Here’s a list of the 14 Eagles alongside Matthews who will be hoping to play their way to an extension next year:

 

Ryan Mathews
Darren Sproles
Leodis McKelvin
Nigel Bradham
Allen Barbre
Caleb Sturgis
Matt Tobin
Beau Allen
Terrence Brooks
Steven Means
Josh Andrews
Taylor Hart
Paul Turner
Byron Marshall

Not all of these players are guaranteed to be on the roster by the end of next season, Ryan Mathews could well be traded and Darren Sproles has announced intentions to retire at the end of 2017, while Leodis McKelvin didn’t exactly set the world on fire during his first season in Philadelphia. It’s the players like Bradham and Barbre however, that could open huge holes on the Eagles roster if left to test free agency..holes that the team won’t be able to afford to fill suitably if the cap situation goes unchanged.

Of course, the Eagles are bound to make moves. There are still some costly contracts left to manage and players reaching the tail end of their careers who will lift some of that pressure. Needless to say however, the Eagles have to ensure that they retain Jordan Matthews.

The former Vanderbilt standout has received for 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns since being drafted by the Eagles in 2014. Known for his relentless work ethic and chemistry with Carson Wentz, Matthews was fundamental in the growth of the rookie quarterback during his rookie season.

That relationship began to blossom before preseason even began. As we reported exclusively back in July, Wentz and Matthews turned up to the NovaCare Complex before the start of  Training camp in order to get some extra reps in. Before the Bradford trade, before the controversy, the pair were already on the same page when it came to work ethic.

Even if the Eagles decide to draft a receiver in the first round and sign a veteran free agent, the corps is still extremely young and as it stands, Matthews is the most experienced receiver on the team. Beneath him, the depth is made up of Nelson Agholor, who struggled with internal issues in 2016 and Dorial Green-Beckham, who failed to emerge as the redzone threat the Eagles envisioned him to become, instead lacking effort at times. The remaining receivers consist of undrafted rookies.

The 804 yards put up by Matthews in 2016 during the 13 games he played was enough to lead the receivers by a large margin. He also led the team in plays of over 20+ yards, targets and YAC. The rest of the Eagles wideouts who remain on the roster (four of them) combined for 963 yards.

At a position of instability, Jordan Matthews has been the only constant over the course of the last two seasons. The third year receiver but the corps on his back this season and established a leadership role, as well as becoming the perennial target for Carson Wentz. While a slot receiver shouldn’t have to be relied on as heavily as Matthews, he was the only source of production at times. When Zach Ertz was struggling or simply injured, it was Matthews putting the offense on his back as the running backs failed to find consistency. With a new WR coach expected to be announced anytime now, could only be set to thrive more.

The Eagles can’t afford to keep upsetting the Apple-Cart and banking on players to live up to expectation. They have to pay players for what they’ve already shown and are knowingly capable of. Dorial Green-Beckham has question marks over his head while a new WR Coach could act as a lifeline for a struggling Nelson Agholor. There’s no guarantee that the addition of a free agent wideout or yet another rookie wide receiver drafted in the early rounds will be the cure for a lack of production on the outside. What is a guarantee however, is that Jordan Matthews shined under Chip Kelly and took great steps under Doug Pederson. Without Jordan Matthews, the rookie season of Carson Wentz would be viewed under a totally different microscope.

Wentz and Matthews could be two of the most important players on the roster..and the early signs of one day emerging as a dangerous duo are certainly there. The Eagles have to create consistency, stability and security for Carson Wentz if they are to succeed in this five-year window..and extending Jordan Matthews is a crucial part of that plan.

The Eagles aren’t blessed with a nice timeframe and spare cap space to allocate to the slot receiver. But the later they leave opening negotiations, the more chance they have of once again taking another step back. The clock is ticking for Howie Roseman and the Eagles front office. If they can’t manage to negotiate an extension before the start of the 2017 season, there’s no guarantee that they will negotiate one at all. Something that could prove disastrous for a franchise pining for stability.

 

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