NFL’s 2021 salary cap decision will pile pressure on the Eagles


The NFL and NFLPA agreed to a deal on Friday that will essentially green-light the NFL season after much deliberation. From potential opt-out clauses for players who are concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic to scheduling updates and roster limits, there isn’t much that wasn’t addressed. One of the things that will remain the same, however, is the salary cap floor, which will not sink below $175M.

The great news here is that Howie Roseman knows what he’s working with. The idea is that the NFL will try to negate the losses of this period over the next few seasons, meaning teams can plan for the short-term as they started out this offseason. The bad news is, that means they’re still in a monumental cap hole.

After this season, the Eagles, who were previously around $50M over the cap, would be expected to be -$71M over the baseline, according to OverTheCap. Not good.

Howie Roseman has long-been a salary cap savior. A man who will backload deals, introduce dummy years and prorated bonuses in order to keep good players in the building longer and keep that guaranteed number as low as possible…until said player grows tired (Cc: Malcolm Jenkins). If you need a gentle reminder, just look at Carson Wentz’s contract in comparison to QB’s around a similar paygrade:

This will undoubtedly be his toughest challenge yet. Although, one quick gleaming positive – at least they paid Carson Wentz and now won’t have to cough up mega-money after franchise-tagging their starter…ahem, Dallas.

Of course, it won’t all be filled with difficult decisions and caffeine-induced breakdowns. If Alshon Jeffery is cut with a post-June-1st designation, he’ll save the team $13M of space which they can roll over into next season. Unfortunately, we cannot add that onto the $20.3M of cap space they have this year which is already rolled over in the estimations.

DeSean Jackson really didn’t do himself many favors this offseason and his $8.6M cap-hit this year may well end up being restructured down the line. A trade would save them around $6M if they wanted to pursue that path. I’d assume they keep him around this year since it would be a lofty expectation to put on Jalen Reagor’s shoulders to hit the ground running without a preseason or OTA’s as a rookie. If they don’t, the Eagles do still have Marquise Goodwin waiting in the wings who also carries a cap-hit of $4.2M this year and $5.8M next year. It is hard to imagine both sticking around though with the salary cap having been confirmed.

Malik Jackson could be another name facing a contract restructure after missing his entire first season in Philly and carrying a $4M cap-hit this year before seeing it spike to $13M next offseason.

Then, there’s the tricky stuff. After next offseason (not this offseason coming), Dallas Goedert will be coming out of his rookie deal and joining Zach Ertz as a pending free agent. While it’s a little premature to look ahead to 2022, we already know that Ertz and Lane Johnson wanted new deals and deservedly so. One player got his wish. Ertz is one of the top tight ends in the league and like with Carson Wentz, Howie has to use foreshadowing here knowing that the market will spike the second George Kittle signs his big payday. Ertz will want a hefty deal that reflects his pay and will understandably want a lot of that money guaranteed. Paying both simply may be out of the equation depending on how Roseman deals with the obstacles immediately in front of him. Ertz has already restructured his deal on numerous occasions, I doubt he’ll do it again.

In reality, the Eagles should find a way to glide under the cap by the skin of their teeth. They always do. Roseman will somehow squeeze blood from a stone, turn water to wine (somehow less miraculous than a Jason Peters paycut), and approach veterans on the team such as Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, and of course Carson Wentz, to take one for the team.

Backloading contracts and finding credit card-like loopholes has long been Roseman’s thing…but will it be enough to keep the team’s head above water?

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports