Really great discussion on Inside the Birds this week about the Eagles cap space situation beyond this year. Over the weekend, the rumor of Jadeveon Clowney being offered a contract arose. Yannick Ngakoue has been a hot commodity all offseason long. The Eagles have plenty of cap space this upcoming season. So why don’t they pull the trigger on these big name players like fans want them to? Well, the cap space situation starting in 2021 makes one of these splashes a lot less realistic.
They’ve really run into the perfect storm of kicking the can down the road when it comes to contract extensions with guaranteed money coupled with a global pandemic which will stymie league revenue. The Eagles were bound to run into a year like this and they could always untwist the pretzel they were in, but Coronavirus and the Alshon extension make things much more complex (more on that later).
So who is causing these binds in the team’s salary cap? Let’s take a look:
Carson Wentz: Cap Hit – $34.67 million
This is the price of doing business in today’s NFL. If you have an elite quarterback, they are going to command a dominant portion of your cap. Wentz cap hit is 16% of the Eagles cap number for 2021. It’s the first year where his new contract really hinders the team. But, it is a problem every team with good quarterback play hits one their QB comes off their rookie deal. You think this is bad? Wait until Patrick Mahomes gets his $200 million deal. Wait until the Cowboys cave on Dak. It’s imperative you make a Super Bowl run when your quarterback is still on his rookie deal.
Fletcher Cox: Cap Hit – $22.447 million
This will be a repetitive theme as we go through: If you have a player who one of the best at his postion, he will get paid like it. The Eagles have multiple players who are top 10 or even top 5 at their position. Therefore, they get paid in that echelon. Fletcher Cox is the 2nd best defensive tackle in the league, he gets paid like the second best defensive tackle in the league.
Alshon Jeffery: Cap Hit – $18.5 million
This is the absolute killer right here. This is the one causing salary cap hell and disarray. Forget about the fact they owe $15 million to Jeffery this year, they owe even MORE ($18 million) next year!!! Howie Roseman is extremely good at configuring players’ salaries so that everything fits and they are able to maximize talent in the process. But, this restructured deal he completed with Alshon just makes no sense. Jeffery will likely start the season the PUP list and missed almost the entire season a year ago. With the rumors swirling and constant injury issues, he has become basically untradeable. I would love to see Alshon back playing at a WR1 level or even somewhat close to it but we haven’t seen it recently. But, they are still on the hook for WR1 money. This one is the ultimate salary cap quagmire for the team.
Brandon Brooks: Cap Hit – $14.5 million
Brooks has been the best Guard in the league and every fan base would likely agree. Guy has been a stud and the Eagles are lucky to have someone with this level of production who also represents the community so well. But, the Inside the Birds guys brought up a good point: if he has another serious injury, would 2021 be his last year as an Eagle? Pretty interesting point to ponder, but I love this guy and hope for nothing but sustained health, both mentally and physically.
Zach Ertz: Cap Hit – $12.271 million
Oh boy, this one could beome a conundrum very quickly. Ertz has been one of the faces of this era of sports not just with the Eagles but in Philadelphia as a whole. He is still incredibly productive, just a year removed from setting the tight end receptions record. But they have a talented back-up tight end waiting in the wings. Once George Kittle gets a contract extension, Ertz will get a deal just below that. It won’t be cheap. Oof, they’ve got to make some tough decisions with some extremely loveable players.
Darius Slay: Cap Hit- $15.75 million
Slay is getting paid something ridiculously low like $4 million base salary in 2020. But, then in 2021 his REAL cap numbers start to hit. Slay is the perfect example of a player who embodies all the sayings we’ve been using to describe the Eagles salary cap situation. They kicked the can down the road ($4 million in 2020) but Slay is super talented (probably top 5 at his position) so they were eventually going to have to pay him the money he deserves for the class of player he is in. Howie Roseman said he was tired of watching the ball fly over the corners heads. He paid a pretty penny to make sure he never had to watch it happen again.
*salary cap figures courtesy of Spotrac*