One of the most fascinating teams to watch in the NFL and how they approach the 2021 free agency period will be the Philadelphia Eagles. With the organization seeming to choose a quarterback over head coach, several free agents could be lost in the shuffle to the Eagles having one of the worst cap situations in 2021.
The $34.7 million elephant in the room
There is no reason to bury the lead. Every one of the Eagles’ offseason moves in 2021, including free agency, revolves around the decision with Carson Wentz.
After the firing of Doug Pederson, it appears GM and VP Howie Roseman made his choice. He chose to move forward with Wentz rather than keep the coach who brought the city its first Super Bowl in 2017. I mean, the guy has a statue outside the stadium, for crying out loud.
Wentz’s contract by the numbers
If Wentz only needs a new head coach to believe in him, it will be answered soon. The Eagles bet the house on it happening. Wentz’s contract hangs over the entire organization.
The deal, which includes a $34.7 million cap charge for 2021, provides no easy out to the Eagles. A release would result in a loss of more than $24.5 million in cap space for next season, while a post-June 1st cut would keep Wentz’s contract on the books until that date. It’s basically handcuffing flexibility during free agency and the draft. His 2022 through 2024 cap numbers are $31.3, $34.3, and $32 million, respectively.
They also didn’t account for a global situation to hit when negotiating this contract. Due to its economic impact, the salary cap is expected to fall to $176 million. Leaving the Eagles an estimated $52.3 million over the salary cap, according to Over The Cap.
To make moves in free agency in 2021, the Eagles could cut or restructure deals with veterans
If the Eagles attempt to bring back any of their guys in free agency, they will need to be creative with contracts and cutting players.
They’ve already released WR DeSean Jackson. Releasing TE Zach Ertz and DE Derek Barnett would result in $14.8 million in cap space. Also, trying to restructure deals would make sense as well.
DT Fletcher Cox comes to mind under this scenario. Cox will account for nearly $24 million against the cap in 2021. They could redistribute his base salary over the next four years of his deal. They can take the same approach with guys like DE Brandon Graham ($17.9 million), OT Lane Johnson ($17.8 million), and G Brandon Brooks ($14.6 million). All of this relies on those players being willing to take a restructured deal, though.
Even after making all of these moves, the Eagles might still find themselves unable to re-sign players becoming free agents in 2021. Every penny needs to be saved to sign a larger name in the offseason to help out the receiving corps and secondary, not to mention an offensive line that allowed a league-high 65 sacks.
Several larger names for Eagles could leave as free agents
It’s nothing new for a franchise to look different one season to another. The Eagles, though, could look drastically different.
One name that will likely leave in free agency is T Jason Peters. Following the injury to Brandon Brooks, Peters came back and showed his age. At 38 years old, he struggled at times with speed edge rushes and only played in eight games before toe surgery ended his season.
Upgrades in the secondary will need to be a focus of the Eagles in free agency
Safety Jalen Mills, cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, and defensive end Vinny Curry will most likely sign elsewhere.
Mills, a former seventh-round selection, recorded 283 tackles, 5 interceptions, 5 quarterback hits, and 1.5 sacks with the team. He transitioned to safety to fill in for Malcolm Jenkins in 2020 but struggled at times, as did the rest of the Eagles’ secondary. The Eagles allowed a 68.7% completion percentage (27th) and deflected an NFL-low 43 passes.
Coleman signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract in 2020, and the Eagles got what they paid for most of the time. Coleman has 44 tackles (37 solo) and failed to intercept a pass in his 15 games. Working out of the slot for the Eagles, he will likely find himself on another team in 2021 once free agency wraps up.
As for Curry, age will be the determining factor at 32 years old. He logged 3.0 sacks and 10 QB hits across 11 games, even making a start on three separate occasions. In a move that upset some of the fan base, Roseman and the Eagles cut rookie DE Casey Toohill to make room for Curry. Turning 33 in July, the Eagles will let him walk during the 2021 free agency period.
Philadelphia Eagles’ 2021 offensive free agents
RB Corey Clement, 27
TE Jason Croom, 27
TE Joshua Perkins, 28
LT Jason Peters, 39
TE Richard Rodgers, 29
RB Boston Scott, 26
QB Nate Sudfeld, 28
WR Greg Ward, 26
Philadelphia Eagles’ 2021 defensive and special teams free agents
DE Vinny Curry, 33
S Jonathan Ford, 26
LB Nate Gerry, 26
P Cameron Johnston, 29
CB Crevon LeBlanc, 27
DT T.Y. McGill, 29
S Jalen Mills, 27
DT Hassan Ridgeway, 27
LB Duke Riley, 27
CB Nickell Robey-Coleman, 29
LB Alex Singleton, 28
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