The Super Bowl champions have some serious decisions to make regarding their salary cap this offseason. Having already lost quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo to the Vikings and offensive coordinator Frank Reich to the Colts, the Philadelphia Eagles‘ front office will look to retain the core of players who brought a Lombardi Trophy to Philadelphia. However, with some notable veterans coming back from injury, in particular left tackle Jason Peters and running back Darren Sproles, players will have to restructure their contracts for this team to stay intact. Others will simply have to be released in order to create cap space. So, which current Eagles are potential candidates to prorate their contracts and which players might not be returning to the Bird Gang next season?
|Player||Base Salary||Signing Bonus||Option Bonus||Workout Bonus||Roster Bonus||Cap Hit||Cap Savings If Traded/Cut|
|DT Fletcher Cox||$11,500,000||$5,200,000||$1,200,000||–||–||$17,900,000|
|RT Lane Johnson||$10,250,000||$2,000,000||–||$234,375||–||$12,484,375|
|RG Brandon Brooks||$8,750,000||$2,200,000||–||–||–||$11,136,379|
|DE Vinny Curry||$9,000,000||$2,000,000||–||–||–||$11,000,000|
|LT Jason Peters||$7,750,000||$3,666,666||–||$250,000||–||$12,484,375||$4,330,000|
|WR Torrey Smith||$5,000,000||–||–||–||–||$5,000,000||$5,000,000|
|TE Brent Celek||$4,000,000||$1,000,000||–||–||–||$5,000,000||$4,000,000|
|OG Chance Warmack||$1,000,000||$375,000||–||–||$609,375||$1,984,375||$875,000|
The above table lists eight players that could see their contracts restructured or be straight up released. While the top four names are cornerstone players for the franchise, the bottom four are potential trade/cut candidates. The Eagles are currently $7 million down in terms of cap space and will not have a second or third round pick in this year’s draft. While everyone would love to see the same Super Bowl championship team in 2018, the NFL is a business and difficult decisions have to be made.
Rumors have been swirling around Philadelphia regarding Brent Celek’s possible retirement. The 11-year NFL veteran finally got his Super Bowl ring, and the 2017 season would be a storybook ending to an incredible career. The Eagles would save around $4 million if Celek decides to call it quits, but that only puts a slight dent in Philly’s 2018 cap deficit. Torrey Smith, last year’s free agent addition at wide receiver, proved to be a clutch performer at times this past season, but also led the team in drops. His production can be easily duplicated by second-year receiver Mack Hollins or another receiver in the later rounds of the draft. No Celek or Smith on the books would get the Eagles out of the red, but there would still no room to sign pending free agents like Nigel Bradham, Trey Burton or Darren Sproles.
Of the team’s 13 unrestricted free agents, Nigel Bradham might be the most important to re-sign. After Jordan Hicks went down, the Eagles struggled to find a capable backup to fill his role. Instead, Jim Schwartz relied primarily on a base nickel defense, with three cornerbacks and only two linebackers typically on the field. While Mychal Kendricks handled most pass coverage responsibilities, Bradham excelled at the middle linebacker spot and was instrumental to the Eagles’ top-ranked run defense. According to spotrac.com, the 28-year old linebacker’s market valuation should see him getting $5.5-$6.0 million per season. With no spending room available, cornerstone players like Fletcher Cox ($17.9M cap hit), Lane Johnson ($12.5M cap hit), Brandon Brooks ($11.1M cap hit) and Vinny Curry ($11M cap hit) may have to restructure their current deals. A necessary sacrifice if the Eagles want to bring back some key roster components for next season.
Restructuring NFL contracts typically includes taking the non-guaranteed money through the player’s base salary or other bonuses and converting it into a guaranteed signing bonus. Jason Peters restructured his current contract last season and may be asked to do it once again. After suffering a terrible knee injury, the 36-year old left tackle has been publicly outspoken about his desire to return to the Eagles in 2018. The most logical restructuring of Peters’ contract would be to move some of his base salary into a roster/workout bonus. If Peters can stay healthy for the entirety of the 2018 season, he will be paid like the Pro-Bowl offensive tackle that he is.
By playing around with the website overthecap.com, I was able to restructure the contracts of Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Vinny Curry and Jason Peters in order to give Nigel Bradham a 3-year, $17 million deal (~$5.5M base salary per season) and Darren Sproles just over $1 million with a modest roster bonus. That means no Beau Allen, Trey Burton or LeGarrette Blount returning. While fans would love to see those players come back, the numbers simply do not work out (unless the Eagles prioritize any of them over Peters/Sproles). However, the debate remains on whether or not some will even take a pay cut. Personally, I believe the camaraderie and brotherhood of this team is too powerful for someone to walk away for a larger contract.
Next week on The Restructured Reload, Matt will take a look at some draft prospects the Eagles’ scouts should have their eye on next Thursday at the 2018 Draft Combine.