Stay or go? Cap-strapped Eagles faced with key personnel decisions

Stay or go? Cap-strapped Eagles faced with key personnel decisions

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The Super-Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles are faced with some critical decisions as they look to gear up for a repeat.

They are currently projected to be about $9 million over the 2018 salary cap — the only team in the red. The good news is that 20 of their 22 starters are under contract for next season, leaving very few needs, but they are still faced with tough calls when it comes to some of their veteran players.

Here are the biggest questions:

What to do with Nick Foles?

The Super Bowl MVP carries a cap number of just under $8 million. Trading Foles would not only offer some financial relief, but would help replenish their draft stockpile. The Eagles don’t currently have a second or third-round pick in April’s draft.

On the flip side, Foles and Carson Wentz together carry a 2018 cap number of under $15 million. Having two quarterbacks of this caliber is a luxury they can afford while Wentz is on his rookie deal. The Eagles know better than anyone the value of having a quality No. 2. Given that Wentz is still recovering from a torn ACL and LCL, the Eagles might look to save elsewhere unless they’re bowled over by an offer.

Which free agents will they keep?

Linebacker Nigel Bradham, running backs LeGarrette Blount and Darren Sproles, cornerback Patrick Robinson, defensive tackle Beau Allen and tight end Trey Burton, thrower of the “Philly Special,” are among the notable pending free agents.

Bradham (85 tackles, 5 TFL, sack, 8 passes defensed) has turned into a vital part of Jim Schwartz’s defense. It would be no surprise if the Eagles prioritized re-signing him, especially given the lack of depth and health concerns with Jordan Hicks. Robinson was signed to a one-year, $775,000 deal last offseason and developed into one of the better slot corners in the game. His price tag is going to go up — probably way up — and it could be difficult for Philly to justify re-signing him, especially with Sidney Jones back from an Achilles injury and in line for playing time along with Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills.

When it comes to Sproles and Blount, it could come down to what the market bears. Both are valuable to the team, but with Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement in the fold, they don’t need to force the issue.

Which veterans will be cap casualties?

Left tackle Jason Peters is 36 years old, is coming off a torn ACL and MCL, and carries a cap number of around $11 million. But he’s also said to be moving around very well — one teammate who saw him work out leading up to the Super Bowl said he looked like he could play in the game — and coach Doug Pederson made him the favorite to start on Wentz’s blindside in ’18. The team has tried unsuccessfully to get Peters to take a pay cut in the past. Let’s see if they give it another go.

Tight end Brent Celek carries a $5 million cap hit. Now that he has helped secure the Eagles’ first Super Bowl title, it might be time to ride off into the sunset. Wide receiver Torrey Smith‘s contract is structured so he’s on a series of one-year deals. He’s due to make $5 million this season. After an up-and-down year, the Eagles will have to decide whether to continue to roll with Smith or trust that the youth in the pipeline, led by Mack Hollins, will step in and get the job done.

Defensive end Chris Long represents about a $2 million cap hit, while linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who has demanded a trade in the past, has a cap number of around $7.5 million.

Who will want a new deal?

Defensive end Brandon Graham, one of the heroes of Super Bowl LII, is a good place to start.

He is entering the final year of his contract. The team’s leader in sacks (9.5) and tackles for loss (16), Graham is sure to command a healthy pay day. On the plus side, a reworked deal could very well lower his ’18 cap number of $8 million.

Breaking Sports News

via http://www.espn.com – TOP http://www.espn.com

February 14, 2018 at 07:37AM

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