Believe it or not, the Eagles still have over $24M left in cap space after signing Carson Wentz to his monster four-year extension. Will the Eagles roll that over into next year where they could use every last penny, or instead look at some of the other players on the roster where negotiating a contract now may help them in the long run? Only time will tell, but here are five names who could be next-in-line to secure their future in Philadelphia.
The Elephant in the room here is Malcolm Jenkins. By this point, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t think that the 2x Super Bowl champion deserves a new deal. Whether it’s his resilience and durability, missing under 2% of defensive snaps since arriving in 2014, his production, or his leadership, Jenkins has become the heartbeat of the team, but one without any guaranteed money left on a deal that currently has him ranked the ninth-highest paid at his position.
The veteran safety skipped voluntary workouts in what was assumed to be a bid to make his desire for a new contract known. Jenkins did show up for mandatory minicamp however, refusing to let that drive for a new deal get in the way of the upcoming season.
If we were to ask Eagles players to form an orderly queue before pitching a presentation on ‘why I deserve a pay-rise’, I think it’s safe to say everybody would happily let Malcolm Jenkins walk into that board room first. The man deserves more than just a subtle bump…but will he get it?
Entering his contract year, ‘KGH’ has become one of the most underrated players on this Eagles team. Playing in 31% of defensive snaps last year, the perennial special teamer has taken on an increased role with each year he’s spent in Philadelphia. Starting 10 games for the Birds, the former Pats linebacker amassed 45 tackles (5 TFL), and an interception last year.
Not only that, but he’s led the team in special teams tackles in back-to-back season’s. Dave Fipp’s unit has a longstanding reputation as one of the best in the league and replacing Kamu would be no easy task.
It would make sense to re-sign Grugier-Hill now than it would at the end of next season, especially if an anticipated special teams ‘three-peat’ is on the cards.
This is an interesting one. Vaitai is entering his contract year and has seemingly transitioned to guard. This makes sense on several levels. Andre Dillard kind of automatically bumps ‘Big V’ down the depth chart and with Brandon Brooks potentially missing a few games to start the year, it at least adds an insurance policy. What wasn’t expected however was that throughout the Spring, Vaitai would see the first-team reps at guard, not Stefen Wisniewski.
Maybe they’re just trying to expedite the development, or maybe there’s more to this than meets the eye. Vaitai has been more than serviceable in clutch situations, filling in for both Peters and Johnson on both sides of the line. Versatility is everything and if Vaitai can escape the pressure currently overshadowing the OT spot, then it dramatically enhances his chances of sticking around.
Vaitai watch Isaac Seumalo secure a handsome payday this offseason, maybe Vaitai will snag one of his own.
Brandon Brooks is in a similar boat to Carson Wentz. After signing a sizable deal with the Eagles, Brooks became a cornerstone of the offensive line. After allowing a sack against the Browns in week 1 of 2016, he hasn’t allowed one since. That’s nearly 3 FULL seasons without allowing a single sack. Remarkable.
Recovering from a torn Achilles, Brooks has two years left on his deal in Philadelphia, costing the Eagles over $11M each season. But coming off of an injury that may haunt the team in the early stages of next season, is now the time to cash in on his value before it goes up even further?
If the Eagles could extend the 29-year old to a 3/4 year deal, lowering his 2020 cap hit, swallowing some of it now and spreading the rest out, would this not be yet another cap-savvy move from one of the most forward-thinking GM’s in the league?
Brooks may be the most under-appreciated member of the Eagles offensive line, but if Howie strikes fast, we could see the former Texan lining up in midnight green for years to come.
Ronald Darby is a free agent next year, as is Jalen Mills, who still hasn’t been able practice after suffering a mysterious foot injury that ended his 2018 season. Much like the Brandon Brooks situation, Jones is coming off of a season-ending injury himself, but flashed plenty of potential when healthy in the early stages of 2018.
If Sidney Jones ends up starting either in the nickel or outside at CB2 this year, one can make a very early case for the Washington product being a breakout candidate.
The Eagles long-term picture at corner is murky at best and if the team believe in their former second-round pick, locking him up now and again, cashing on the value before he starts seeing dollar signs, may make sense.