HEAD Coach Doug Pederson warned you when he said “as you know, the nature of the business is you can’t keep everybody. It’s just the way it goes.” So when certain players start hitting the cutting room floor, don’t act like you didn’t see it coming. Let’s look at WHY we have to lose some people, and who we may lose.
And don’t get mad at me. This is just math. You’d have to be pretty stupid to argue with addition and subtraction. Let’s get to it!
The 2018 season has a salary cap of $178M. The Eagles have $3.7M in roll-over money from 2017. Those two numbers combined, gets our adjusted cap up to $181.7M. That’s the good news. The bad news is, our top 51 contracts (plus dead money), total $186.6M. That leaves the Eagles with negative $4.87M.
In order to get under the salary cap, we have to either convince a number of players to play for less money (restructuring), trade away some heavy contracts, or cut our way to savings. Those are the three options.
Restructuring off of a Super Bowl win is highly unlikely. In fact, some players will want raises. So then who do we have to cut or trade? How do we make $4.87M (4.9M) in cap space?
Well first let’s look at who’s got a large base salary, but won’t hurt us in dead money, if we cut them. I didn’t say we wouldn’t miss their talent if we cut them, I said it won’t hurt us as far as the dead money penalty.
Those players are WR Torrey Smith ($5M base/zero penalty), DE Brandon Graham ($6.7M base/$1M penalty), C Jason Kelce ($6M base/ $1.2M penalty) and TE Brent Celek ($4M base/$1M penalty). Those four players represent $21.7M in salary and only $3.2M in penalty money. That’s $18.5M in cap savings, right there.
Smith and Celek are natural cuts, since Smith carries no penalty, and word is that Celek may retire anyway. Combined, they free up $8M in cap space. That would get us out of the hole, and even put a little spending money ($3.1M) in our pocket.
Graham represents $5.7M in savings, but he’s also our best DE. So moving him likely does far more harm than good. So that move is out.
Kelce represents $4.8M in savings if he’s cut, but if he’s traded for a pick, to a team like sayyyyyy, the Buffalo Bills (HINT HINT), we’d save the entire $6M. (Remember when moving Kelce was a hot topic in early 2017?) Kelce, plus Smith, plus Celek would get us to $9.1M in cap space.
Given the way he ingratiated himself with the fan base at the Super Bowl parade, moving Kelce wouldn’t be popular right now. However, given the Eagles extending C/G Stefen Wisniewski last year, and the futures signing of C John Toth just last week, it’s clear that the Eagles are actively looking at the C position. (And if you think Wiz’s extention was so the Eagles could lock up a Guard, consider the presence of Isaac Seumalo, Chance Warmack and Darrell Greene. Wiz isn’t here to stay at Guard.)
Having $9.1M in cap space (Kelce/Smith/Celek) would help us re-sign some of our own Free Agents like TE Trey Burton or OLB Nigel Bradham. However, adding another $7.6M to the pot would allow us to be aggressive. That’s the amount we’d re-coup if the Eagles trade QB Nick Foles for picks instead of a player, getting us to $16.7M.
Having $16.7M brings back Bradham, rescuing an already thin LB corps from becoming a blood-spurting wound. It also opens the door to keeping Burton or DT Beau Allen, and maybe even RB LeGarrette Blount.
Or instead of Foles, we could trade FS Rod McLeod for a day two pick, and save $6M. Then our cap space would look like $15.1M, with McLeod replaced by say CB/S Jalen Mills. That scenario also would enable us to keep Bradham and so forth. So there are options.
In any case, the Eagles will probably piss off a lot of fans in the next month or so. That’s not for being stupid, but just to get the books out of the red. So be ready for it, and remember where you heard it first.