Can the Eagles Afford Bennie Logan And DeSean Jackson?

Evaluating the market for the potential free agents.
Bennie Logan. (USA Today Sports)

Bennie Logan. (USA Today Sports)

When Howie Roseman went on his spending spree last offseason, he locked up the Eagles’ first two picks in the 2013 draft — Lane Johnson and Zach Ertz. But as the months progressed, it became increasingly clear that signing their third pick in that draft, Bennie Logan, was not a priority.

Now, if the Birds want to keep the 27-year-old defensive tackle who is set to become a free agent this offseason, they may have to open up their wallets even more.

“I think some of the Eagles’ recent contracts, which have been a bit more optimistic about the future potential of their players, will have Logan looking for a big number if he is to bypass free agency to stick with Philly,” Over The Cap’s Jason Fitzgerald told Birds 24/7. “That means looking for Tyrone Crawford/Damon Harrison money in the $9 million per year range, but my feeling is that his market value likely will fall in the $5.75-6.75 million per year range.”

While the Eagles currently have little projected cap space in 2017, ranking 29th out of 32 teams with around $9.4 million, Roseman could save more than $20 million by cutting Connor BarwinJason KelceMychal KendricksRyan Mathews and Leodis McKelvin. However, the Eagles would have to spend money in free agency — or use draft picks — to replace each contributor. Given the team’s draft slots, the Birds will have to spend roughly $7 million to sign their rookies.

If Logan does seek — and receive — money comparable to his NFC East rivals in Dallas and New York, he would likely be one of the top-10 paid defensive tackles in the NFL. Both Crawford and Harrison earned five-year deals worth about $45 million, featuring cap hits in years two through five around $9 to $11 million a year. However, because their deals are backloaded, Crawford’s year-one cap hit was only $4.35 million while Harrison’s was $6.6 million.

“I think Logan is a hard guy to estimate a number on,” Fitzgerald said. “He doesn’t rush the passer, he only played 46 percent of the team’s snaps and he’s a good run defender, but I don’t think he is at the point of a Damon Harrison where there is a buzz about him. I’ve found defensive tackle to be somewhat of a crapshoot in free agency where some guys break the bank while other just sit and end up settling for a one-year contract.”

As for DeSean Jackson, Fitzgerald projects the 30-year-old receiver will get a deal this offseason that is similar to his current one. While Jackson was technically on a four-year deal worth $32 million, it voided to a three-year deal worth $24 million, averaging out to $8 million per year with $16 million fully guaranteed.

“He closed the year incredibly strong until the final game, but he’ll also be 31 next year and his whole game is speed,” Fitzgerald said. “Brandon Marshall was the same age when he redid his contract with the Jets for around $8.7 million per year. Marshall was coming off a poorer season in Chicago, but was probably considered the better player.”

However, one major difference between Jackson’s current deal and Marshall’s contract is how it’s structured. While Marshall’s cap hit was $9 million in his first year, Jackson’s was just $4.25 million in his first year because it was backloaded. Washington had to absorb cap hits of $9.25 million in each of the last two seasons.

It appears the Eagles could make room for both Jackson and Logan if they really wanted to by backloading contracts and putting themselves up even tighter against the salary cap in the next year or two, but between the Birds’ financial state, the team’s interest level in each player and other teams having much more money to splurge in free agency, it seems more likely the Eagles will only end up with one of these guys — if either of them.