Coming home from Miami, after what may be the worst loss in recent memory for the Philadelphia Eagles, many fans and personnel alike were wondering where to go from here to salvage the season. While the Eagles were far from out of the playoff race, the display they put forth on MNF against the Giants did little to convince anyone they deserve a spot in the playoffs. Despite the win, it took until the fourth quarter for the offense to click and the defense surrendered two horrific touchdowns to the aging Eli Manning. At the very least, the Monday night game made it clear and obvious that Philadelphia is no longer a Super Bowl favorite. Nevertheless, the late-game comeback, followed by a reprise against the Redskins this Sunday has affirmed the fact that the roster is not devoid of young talent.
The stage has been set for a winner-takes-all showdown against Dallas this weekend. In spite of a very tumultuous season, the Eagles find themselves holding on to a glimmer of playoff hope. Philadelphia sports’ sites are beginning to fill with postseason optimism after a stretch of dreary performances.
While there is much to talk about with playoff brackets being filled with pens now instead of pencils; instead, we’ll be looking beyond the playoffs. Specifically, what can be done in the offseason to ensure the Eagles aren’t a newer iteration of the Atlanta Falcons or Carolina Panthers — teams that are just a few years removed from the ultimate game that now struggle to finish with a winning record.
The good news is that all is not lost. The roster is still full of talent and with Howie Roseman at the helm, the Eagles will always have cap space to play with. The NFC East was the least competitive division in football, and looks to be ripe for the taking next season as well.
The bad news is that change is no longer seems like an option; instead, it is a necessity. The Eagles may be able to fight their way into the playoffs but have not yet settled on a recipe for success. Over the span of the season, fans have vocalized a slew of cut candidates and players that just haven’t lived up to the hype. That being said, cutting ties just to try out a new pair of scissors does nobody any good. Therefore the goal should be to free up as much cap space while retaining as much talent as possible.
Unfortunately, with Howie Roseman’s contract restructuring having tendrils on nearly all the Eagles’ significant contracts, back-loaded deals with a large portion of the money owed take up a bulk of the Birds’ cap space. Cutting a player with such a contract would leave a large deficit on the Eagles’ tab. Realistically, the team is in no position to commence any sort of significant rebuild. With that in mind, let’s look at the books — what can the Eagles really do to retool this roster?
Re-sign/ Let Walk
If the Eagles are to set themselves up for a rebuild of any capacity, the approach to resigning free agents needs to be bare bones. Resigning role players may keep the team in playoff contention, but it will not vault them back to the Super Bowl. The estimated cap total below includes a $30M cap rollover from 2019, as per Spotrac, which gives the front office plenty of wiggle room. Still, with a couple of big-ticket players to enter free agency, a few hefty contracts could lock up a bulk of that cap space in a hurry. Smartly, Howie Roseman has already inked a few key players to extensions during the season, which alleviates some of the burden come springtime. Nonetheless, the team will need to be stingy when re-signing the remaining players in the last year of their deals.
|Eagles’ Cap Space (Over the Cap/ Spotrac)||$40.4M|
|Greg Ward (ERFA)||Re-sign||$585,000|
|Joshua Perkins (RFA)||Re-sign||$720,000|
|Jay Ajayi (Club Option)||Walk||–|
|Boston Scott (ERFA)||Re-sign||$660,000|
|Corey Clement (RFA)||Walk||–|
|Iosua Opeta (ERFA)||Re-sign||$570,000|
|Anthony Rush (ERFA)||Re-sign||$645,000|
|Nigel Bradham (Club Option)||Walk||–|
|Craig James (ERFA)||Re-sign||$645,000|
|Total Remaining Cap Space||$26.6M|
What should be prevalent from the suggested re-signings is the importance of retaining the young players on the roster. As much as possible, the Eagles need to keep their young, cheap, low-risk signings. This is especially true for positions of need (RB and DT depth, WR), as well as positions the Eagles have had success developing (namely OL and DL). For those ERFA guys on the roster, it should be a no brainer: sign them for next to pennies and allow them the opportunity to compete for a roster spot. Teams need only offer exclusive rights free agents the minimum terms for a one year contract to retain them. Boston Scott’s contract is a little larger because he was originally a draft pick of the New Orleans Saints.
Apart from bringing back the young, spry playmakers, the decision to let nearly all other veterans walk may turn some heads. A few decisions, in particular, will stand out. If there is to be a rebuild, the underlying philosophy must be that a “half-way” restructure would only delay the inevitable and waste precious years of Carson Wentz’ prime. It would also give new coaches — coordinators and position coaches alike — the opportunity to start fresh with players more catered to their scheme. Nevertheless, there are some names left unsigned above that are more damning than others.
A look at how the offense and defense may shake out this offseason can be viewed on the page below.
Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports