The Philadelphia Eagles are among the most unpredictable teams coming into this year’s NFL Draft. There has been a whirlwind of speculation surrounding potential trades that see the team both ascend and descend down the draft order. A few player names have been thrown into the mix as well, with Zach Ertz arguably being the most notable. If Howie Roseman is going to make a move, this may be his last shot at cashing in on some of those bigger contracts.
The Eagles are no strangers to making shocking trades and draft decisions. Their Salary Cap situation looked bleak coming into the offseason and needed a solid two months worth tweaking and restructures just to level out. While they shouldn’t need anywhere near as much effort to break even next year, there are some worrying contracts to note.
Lane Johnson is now 30-years-old and coming off of a pretty significant ankle surgery. He may be among the best right tackles in the league but durability has not been his friend and arguably robbed him of several pro-bowl campaigns.
2021 marks the most expensive year of his contract (for now) as he carries a $17M cap hit. While it drops a few million each year after that, there is a lot of excess money that will have to be trickled back in after the Oklahoma product agreed to restructures to help the team in the past.
For instance, he’s ‘technically’ on the books for a whopping $28M in 2028. He would be 37-years-old. Obviously, that’s not going to happen. Years 2026-2028 were automatically void if a 2021 bonus was exercised priced at $4m. That didn’t happen. The Eagles are going to have to cough up sooner or later before they find themselves in very deep water.
That, or they could seek to cash in on someone who has never so much as put together an average season. Every year has been ‘great’ at a bare minimum. With three first-round picks next year, the Eagles could likely move on from Johnson to get another, and go through one year of shoddy offensive line play (what’s new) before finding a long-term solution on the right.
Fletcher Cox is in a similar scenario. Many regard the draftee as an Eagles legend and quite rightly so. He’s on the books for a $23M cap hit this year and a similarly sized one in 2022, his contract year. By that point, he will be 32-years-old and his play has already seemingly regressed a little over the past few seasons. The team invested heavily in Javon Hargrave last year, making him the highest-paid nose tackle in the league. Either they stick with Cox for two more years and swallow a monumental cap hit, or they cash in and decide to restart the process, potentially using some newly-acquired capital to bring in a long-term option.
The Eagles haven’t drafted a defensive tackle highly since Bennie Logan who was drafted in the third round back in 2013. With the group now lacking depth and their main man slowing down, perhaps this is the time to hit reboot.
We all know that the Eagles cherish their players in the trenches. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been thrown at both the offensive and defensive line over the past decade and that shouldn’t change any time soon. But what we haven’t seen from Howie Roseman is an ability to complete his two-part plan.
Finding cornerstones and securing their future is fantastic if you can find someone to catch the baton when Father Time catches up. They’re yet to do that across the board, just look at Jason Kelce for example.
With this year’s NFL Draft being the most pivotal since that of 2016, Howie Roseman may not have many bigger opportunities to pull the trigger on a blockbuster trade that would fully kickstart the rebuild. The Eagles have a new coaching staff and a shiny new starting quarterback…but would he be tempted to part ways with someone who has served the team as valiantly as Johnson or Cox has if the right offer came along? Only time will tell but if we’ve learned one thing about the Eagles, it’s to expect the unexpected.
Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire