Will the Eagles need to make a cap-related move before the season starts?

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)

The Philadelphia Eagles have had a busy two days, but that might only be a sign of things to come. The team finally pencilled second-round pick Landon Dickerson to his rookie contract, just one day before Training Camp is set to open. This comes on the back of the signing of 28-year-old cornerback Steven Nelson…but do the team have enough cap space to facilitate both moves?

Prior to yesterday’s acquisition, the Eagles had an estimated $4.8M in cap space (per the NFLPA), some cap tracking sites show different figures at around $3.6M. We know that Steven Nelson’s contract is a one-year deal worth $2.5M, with incentives pushing the value up to around $4.1M. This leaves the team roughly $2.3M in cap space. OverTheCap have Landon Dickerson’s 2021 cap number at $1.5M. This would obviously push the Eagles very close to the salary cap limit and these numbers are of course estimated, so they may even be a little over the other side of the mark. With a need to have at lease some funds available, there is a chance that we see a move or two before the start of the regular season.

There are two names who would obviously be on the shortlist should the team need some additional funds. Zach Ertz carries an $8.5M cap hit and has been banded around the NFL this season as if it were someone trying to sell a couch on Facebook, while Derek Barnett could be traded for a saving of $10M, given that he is entering his option year.

It’s safe to say that Derek Barnett has more upside here because he’s still only 24-years-old, but there’s a twist. The Eagles did sign Ryan Kerrigan this offseason. In 2020, the former Washington standout played in just 38% of snaps while his sack total dropped to just 5.5. Coincidentally, that’s the same number of sacks as tallied by Derek Barnett…who played in 49% of snaps. Kerrigan, by comparison, is on the books for just a $2.5M cap hit.

A team may be more likely to take a flyer on Barnett than they are Zach Ertz from a production standpoint, given that it’s not as if Barnett’s stats fell off a cliff last year. He has shown gradual growth, it just hasn’t been substantial enough to warrant a long-term deal yet…but that isn’t to say a change of scenery wouldn’t squeeze that out of him.

If the Eagles find themselves in a spot where they do need some cap relief thanks to the surprise signing of Steven Nelson, the good news is that there are at least two assets who can be moved with relative ease to achieve that. Whether or not that comes to fruition is anyone’s guess given how quiet the team have been this offseason.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire