Eagles can erase their remaining salary cap debt with a few simple moves

PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 27: Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Derek Barnett (96) looks on during the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Philadelphia Eagles on September 27, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

It’s been a chaotic week for the Philadelphia Eagles. Carson Wentz is in Indianapolis, DeSean Jackson has been released, and Alshon Jeffery has been informed that his future is not in the City of Brotherly Love. Aside from the start of a new era, there is a method behind the madness. As things stand, the Eagles are still $37M over the salary cap (excluding Jeffery’s release). Here are a string of moves they can make that will entirely erase their remaining debt.

The obvious choice

The Eagles approached both Alshon Jeffery and Malik Jackson a few weeks ago and were able to restructure both of their contracts in order to move on from them easier. On top of this, the team can designate two players per year as a post 6/1 release. saving them even more cap room.

Jeffery’s release is imminent after a rollercoaster, but Jackson’s status is still up in the air. The team may be able to trade the defensive tackle after a 2020 campaign that was filled with flashes of potential. If they don’t, then they have a strong contingency plan in place.

If they were to release Jeffery and Jackson at the beginning of the league year, they would save an estimated $8.9M. By designating both players as a post 6/1 release, that number shoots to $21M.

Salary cap: -$16M

Eagles say goodbye to a former first-round pick

I like Derek Barnett, I do. But I like saving $10M more. After the Eagles picked up his fifth-year option last year, Barnett needed to ball out and prove he was not only worth the upcoming price-tag, but a potential contract extension beyond it. He didn’t.

If you had to give $10M to either Josh Sweat or Derek Barnett tomorrow, who would you choose? If you answered DB, I am slightly concerned.

The argument for Barnett has always been that he came into the league so much younger than most and even now, is only 24-years-old. He’s also been an NFL DE since 2017 and has been unable to prove he’s the lock to replace Brandon Graham when the time comes, which is exactly why he was drafted.

Barnett’s 5.5 sacks were unable to surpass his 2019 total of 6.5 and despite an added spin-move to his arsenal, there just isn’t enough on show to justify a $10M hit.

The good news is that Barnett does hold some intrinsic trade value and the cap hit doesn’t change regardless of how his departure plays out. Whether it’s for some draft compensation, a plug-and-play veteran elsewhere, or a simple release, the Eagles need to be smart here.

Salary Cap: -$6M

The writing on the wall for Eagles TE Zach Ertz

This one should be fairly obvious, but the Eagles will net themselves a $4.7M cap saving in parting ways with the tight end who they already appear to have emotionally disconnected from.

This is not the end to the tenure of Zach Ertz that anybody expected or wanted, but it might be all that’s left after Roseman refused to pay the Stanford product ahead of the 2020 season, leading to a visibly frustrated and dejected run of form. Ertz ended his year with an emotional press conference where it became clear just how much this all meant to him.

It’s a real shame and it shouldn’t have ever come to this, but saving $4.7M by moving on from Ertz will bring the Eagles one step closer to salary cap safety.

Salary Cap: -$1.3M


Not only is WR Marquise Goodwin still on the roster, but he will count for $4.4M of worth of cap space in 2021…for now. After understandably sitting out the 2020 season, Goodwin watched on as the offense plunged itself into a position of needing a full rebuild.

His services may be valuable to what is now a young receiving corps, but $4.4M may be worth more.

Salary cap: +$3.1m

Eagles Restructure candidates

The Elephant in the room is always the idea that Roseman will approach a player he has previously launched an actual money printer at and then very politely ask for some of it back. This could be the case with the biggest contracts on the roster, with Fletcher Cox being an obvious candidate…but leverage is thin. However, there are two names worth noting.

Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks are both coming off of season-ending injuries. Rodney McLeod tore his ACL in 2018 and his restructure pretty much wiped his big $9.9M payday away. While neither Johnson nor Brooks will likely see a hit this drastic due to their impact on the offense and importance for a new QB, the Eagles could very easily salvage an extra couple of million from either contract through some crafty restructuring efforts from GM Howie Roseman.

Salary Cap: +8M

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire