Howie Roseman has wasted no time in rolling up his sleeves and getting down to business. One of the biggest question marks on this team moving forward was Rodney McLeod. After suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2018, the Safety was set to make a whopping $9.9M in 2019. For a team already battling a tidal wave of salary cap problems, this had to change.
McLeod has been nothing but productive during his time on the field. Setting a new career-high in tackles during his first year with the team, the season that followed would be one in which he has crowned a Super Bowl champion. McLeod’s ability to take strong tackling angles and hold the fort while Jenkins sought to wreak havoc inside the box was absolutely vital during the miraculous run. One year later, he started out even stronger, leading the team with 10 tackles in the win over Atlanta…but a season of promise was to be shortlived.
This decision was always going to be difficult. On one hand, you have a safety position that could also lose Corey Graham this offseason and has no real heir to either positional throne waiting in the wings. If the Eagles were forced to cut McLeod, they’d need to rebuild the position from the ground up and that would likely mean bringing Jenkins back to his more traditional role where his impact would be smaller.
On the other hand, $9.9M is a lot of money for a team already so far over the cap and bearing in mind that McLeod is coming off of a season-ending injury, there are natural questions and concerns that would maybe leave Roseman hesitant to commit so heavily to McLeod.
A restructuring was ultimately the best path for both teams. McLeod signed a long-term extension after his breakout year in 2016, much like Nigel Bradham did last season. McLeod’s presence on defense and his thunderous tackling ability cannot be overlooked and losing that would be very hard to replace. The free agent market isn’t exactly swimming with elite starting safeties who fit the Eagles budget and the team have enough holes to fill in the draft as it is. We don’t yet know what the savings will be but expect his 2019 hit to be somewhere in the region of $5M.
As for what this means moving forward, the Eagles can rest easy knowing one major question mark has been removed. McLeod isn’t just a starter, he’s a difference-maker in a defense that relies on that aggression and instinct when plays do leak through, especially with the added help the cornerbacks needed last year. Having to replace McLeod on top of every other need right now would be an absolute nightmare. It also worked out best for McLeod, who sits pretty with his two remaining contract years in an environment he has really grown into. A leader on and off the field, McLeod’s fit in Philadelphia is a snug one and forcing a move away unnecessarily wouldn’t just upset the Apple Cart for the Eagles, but a player coming off IR who had a future secured but maybe jumped out of the pan and into the fire.
Howie strikes again and the Iron is red hot…so who’s next?
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