The Eagles have had a very impressive offseason. They drafted well, navigated free agency calmly, and addressed the Elephant in the room in extending Carson Wentz. But now comes the calm before the Training Camp storm and a window for reflection. Where should the Eagles front office focus their attention before the pads start clanging together? The answer lies in 2021.
After the Carson Wentz extension, the team still have $24M in cap space, which is not only surprising, all things considered, but downright masterful from Howie Roseman. But the work shouldn’t end there.
By now, we know the Malcolm Jenkins situation. The 31-year old played every single snap last season and has missed just 1.6% of snaps since signing with the team in 2014; a truly astonishing feat. However, he’s guaranteed absolutely nothing in the last two seasons of his contract. While the Safety position has become an all-or-nothing position in recent years, with the elite being guaranteed crazy amounts, and others next to nothing, Jenkins, the ninth-highest paid at his position, has every right to seek a bump. But he’s not the only one.
Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer implied that two more players are seeking new deals, Lane Johnson and Zach Ertz. While there’s likely weight to this, the duo is contracted through 2021, so those talks are probably going to occur down the line. Nigel Bradham and Brandon Brooks, however, are in similar positions to Malcolm Jenkins…not to mention Derek Barnett.
The aforementioned are all contracted through the next two seasons and were made somewhat cornerstones to build around. If the Eagles wish to retain these players, penning new deals before the almighty weight of backloaded contract sets in, could be a strong idea. But why should these players take priority?
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?
The Eagles have been able to retain all five of their Super Bowl 52 OL starters along the offensive line, which is almost unheard of. Brooks has been one of the most important players along that front, quietly playing great football, not allowing a single sack since week 1 of 2016.
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.
After a 97-tackle campaign, Bradham needs no introduction. In a linebacker corps that has seen transformation almost year-on-year, Bradham has been the stone statue at the center of it all. Missing two games in the last two years, the former Bills linebacker restructured his deal to give the Eagles some cap relief and while that was great for this offseason and the Birds do have a potential-out in 2020, his cost spikes to a cap hit of around $9.6M if the Eagles don’t rework his deal.
Whether due to injury or a lack of depth, Bradham has become a crucial cog in the Eagles defense and while they’re in no danger of losing him, they are in danger of stinging themselves with a surge in costs, which could haunt a team who are already projected to be $41M over the cap.
A Nigel Bradham extension with a dummy year or two, where Roseman can move some of that $8M base salary in 2020 to a bonus, is a very likely scenario. Not only does it ease the cap-load, but it somewhat rewards Bradham for his stellar play as he enters year number four as an Eagle.
The Eagles may not deem it urgent enough to extend any of the players listed in this article, but if Malcolm Jenkins finally gets his bag, you can bet that Brandon Brooks will be subtly coughing in the background of a classroom to attract some attention, and Nigel Bradham may follow suit after sacrificing some up-front money for the help of the team.
It’s all well and good looking at Ertz and Johnson and speculating extensions, but Roseman built his fortress on foundations that will start to erode as the cap storm hits the shores. If they’re not re-enforced and block by block the pieces start to crumble, it becomes a frantic race against time that the Eagles can’t afford to lose in the midst of their Super Bowl window.