Jerry Jones Was Right: The Philadelphia Eagles’ Window Is Now

Jerry Jones Was Right: The Philadelphia Eagles’ Window Is Now

PHOENIX — The 10 players that the Philadelphia Eagles made available to reporters during Tuesday’s pre-Super Bowl media session were largely made up of franchise cornerstones. Combined, they have appeared in more than 1,100 games and were named to 27 Pro Bowls.

In terms of experience, the Eagles have the clear edge over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 57. The Eagles’ roster is a half-year older than the Chiefs, an average goosed by the in-season pickups of Robert Quinn, Ndamukong Suh, and Linval Joseph.

The Eagles are rightful favorites over the Chiefs in Sunday’s title game. They have the most complete roster — not just in the Super Bowl, but the entire NFL.

But that advantage over the rest of the league will change drastically the minute the game ends. Because Philadelphia has a staggering 20 free agents — the majority of whom are either starters or key rotational players.

Philadelphia Eagles’ Uncertain Future

A sizable number of those players will sign elsewhere this offseason. An equal number might simply retire. That’s what happens when you load up for a one-year run to cash in on your quarterback’s rookie contract — which is precisely what the Eagles did.

It’s a reality that Jerry Jones, perhaps inartfully, highlighted in a recent media session.

“I’m real hesitant to bet it all for a year,” Jones said at the Senior Bowl last week. “There’s a lot of things that can happen for that year. … A couple of teams [Eagles and Rams] that have had some real success putting it all out there and paying for it later. Don’t think that doesn’t pop in my head and get my eye, as far as doing it, and I know how to do that.”

It’s probably bad form to talk bleep about your No. 1 rival while they’re preparing for the Super Bowl.

And Jones’ comments certainly struck a nerve.

“I’ll talk at the Combine about next year,” Eagles GM Howie Roseman said when asked about the Eagles’ window.

Nick Sirianni, asked Monday if this is the last real chance for this core, said: “I don’t look at it that way. You work hard, you connect every day, regardless of the scenario. We look at it as an opportunity to play for each other and get better this week.”

But there’s no spinning away this reality for the Eagles: Some of their most recognizable names are out of contract next month. That list includes Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Javon Hargrave, Jason Kelce, Miles Sanders, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, and T.J. Edwards.

Will some of those free agents be back? Sure. But with just $5 million or so in cap space — not to mention the advancing age for some of those big names — it’ll be impossible to bring them all back.

“If you want to build a championship team, you have to absolutely make sure that you have enough capital for the future to [both build and manage the roster],” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said. “We’ve always emphasized having enough draft capital and resources through free agency, after free agency in opportunistic moments when players are undervalued. We’ve always done that.

“On the other hand, the maintenance stage, you can’t be too emotionally affected. We’ve got to do what’s best for the ’23 team, the ’24 team, the ’25 team, and you know that. But when you have an opportunity to win a Super Bowl, win an NFC Championship, there’s nothing, no stone unturned.

“Even during the season, Howie engineered some wonderful moves for Gardner-Johnson, Linval [Joseph], and [Ndamukong] Suh. It’s all part of our emphasis of both the short-term and not giving up future assets that we need to keep building.”

What could make it really challenging to keep building? Jalen Hurts will soon need a new contract. Next year is the final year of his rookie deal. By 2024, he’ll be costing far more against the cap than he has the past three years.

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And that added financial obligation will make it all but impossible to build a defensive line that recorded 70 sacks in the regular season and keep a secondary that has stars all across the field.

When asked Tuesday if Roseman assembled one of the greatest collections of defensive line talent in NFL history, Brandon Graham replied:

“I have to say yes, because for us to have 70-some sacks in a year, it’s been a fun year. On top of that, the way we play together, it’s like a brotherhood. It’s something you don’t want to see go, even though it’s the last game, and you know this team is going to be different. We want to make sure we finish the job by getting this win.”

On the defense’s back end, James Bradberry and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson will likely be one-year rentals. And if the Eagles beat the Chiefs Sunday, it’ll all be worth it.

If not, Philadelphia will have to rebuild without a bunch of diamonds to comfort them.

“It’s obvious the clock is ticking,” Bradberry said, “but at the same time, when we do think about it, we just try to enjoy the moment, be in the present. Even if we didn’t have a whole bunch of free agents, the team still probably wouldn’t be the same next year. … We just try not to think about it and enjoy the moment.”