Wake-Up Call: On Some Money Matters

Eagles QB Nick Foles talks to WR Desean Jackson during the Eagles-Cowboys game. 10/20/13
Now seems like a good time for a little cap clarity.

The 2012 draft class will be eligible for new contracts at the end of the season, and that’s a pretty big deal for the Eagles. Their philosophy is to identify the key young players, invest in them, and build out from there. The ’12 group consists of Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Nick Foles and Brandon Boykin. That’s a big part of the projected core moving forward, and includes a Pro Bowl quarterback that could be in line for a monster raise.

Howie Roseman recently suggested that releasing DeSean Jackson was financially-driven in part, and that tough decisions like that have to be made in order to build the team properly.

But was it really necessary?  Were there alternatives? What kind of money will Foles command? And what type of financial shape is the team in overall? For answers, we called on former agent and salary cap expert Joel Corry.

This is what we learned:

— The Eagles are sitting on a little over $20 million of cap room for 2014.

— They added approximately $6 million of cap space this season by releasing Jackson.

— Even with Jackson on the roster, they would have the eighth most cap space in the NFL this season ($14.25 million).

— Leftover cap room can be rolled over to the next year. Corry estimates that, with the rollover, the Eagles could have anywhere from $25 to $30 million in cap space for next season (assuming the league cap number increases at a similar rate as it did this past year). If Jackson remained on the roster in 2015, that number would dip to $9-14 million.

— That’s a noticeable difference. However, the Eagles could have held onto Jackson for this season and released him prior to the ’15 campaign. That would have given them $8 million in relief for next season, upping their total cap room to approximately $17-22 million.

— There are other ways to create financial flexibility. Below is a list of players that the Eagles could consider moving on from after the season and the cap space that would be created for ’15, according to Corry.

Name
Potential cap relief
Trent Cole$8.425 million
DeMeco Ryans$6.9 million
Cary Williams$6.5 million
Brent Celek$4.8 million
James Casey$4 million
Todd Herremans$2.8 million
Total$33.425

Add a few of those contracts together, and all of a sudden you’re talking about a healthy amount of financial relief. There’s a decent chance they’ll need it.

— Foles’ contract runs through the 2015 campaign, but the Eagles may try to lock him in after this season when he becomes eligible.  If he finds a high level of success again this year, they’ll have to pay a handsome sum. Corry believes that Foles could end up in Jay Cutler territory. The Bears’ signal-caller recently inked a seven-year, $127 million deal that includes $54 million guaranteed.

“I’m not saying you have to go seven years, but you have to go 18 [per season] on the average,” said Corry. “Now to get in the game with quartertbacks, you’re going to have to go 18 million per season and close to 50 million in guarantees. [Colin] Kaepernick should get done before  training camp starts. That’s going to be another benchmark Foles is going to point to. And I can’t see that number coming in below Cutler. He wants $20 million per season…I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets it. That’s just going to be another data point to add to the equation to help Foles.”

Factor  in possible raises for Cox, Boykin and Kendricks — as well as the demands of the ’13 class coming right behind them — and the space can get eaten up pretty quickly.

Assuming Roseman intends on locking up the majority of the core players from ’12 and beyond, is there merit to the argument that they had to move on from Jackson?

“From a cap standpoint? Next year, yes,” said Corry. “This year? No.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

The Eagles inked Jordan Matthews to a four-year contract, leaving Marcus Smith as the lone rookie in need of a deal.

All you need to know about the OTAs, which got underway yesterday.

“We do have a lot of new things that teams are going to start stealing.” The Eagles’ plan when the secrets get out.  

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Vinny Curry is anxious to make an impact, according to the team’s website.

“I’m trying to find my place and my role to make this defense better,” he said. “I know the assignments now and I have a better understanding of what the defense is all about. I feel like I held my own last year and I improved as I went along. I watched a lot of film and feel like I got better.

“Now I’m ready to take it up a notch. I approached the offseason that way. I believe that good things come to those who wait and I’m a good teammate. When I get in there, it’s my job to provide a spark. I want people to say, ‘Vinny Curry helped the team win.’ The only thing you can do is improve and improve every day, and that’s what I’m doing.”

Jimmy Kempski lists Trent Cole versus Marcus Smith as one of his top camp battles.

It feels like the ROLB job is Marcus Smith’s in 2015, with Trent Cole keeping it warm until Smith is ‘ready.’ I sure hope that’s not the way Smith and the Eagles see it. Smith is a 1st round draft pick, and while Cole picked up the position as the 2013 season progressed, he remains an imperfect fit. This job should absolutely be one to watch. Frankly, it would be highly concerning if Smith couldn’t at least push Cole hard for this spot, which Brandon Graham could not do a year ago.

COMING UP

OTAs continue at the NovaCare Complex.

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