Wake-Up Call: Why the Eagles Are Being Aggressive
You wonder if Fletcher Cox would have been locked up months ago if not for the short-lived Chip Kelly power grab.
Howie Roseman comes from the Joe Banner school of financial management that teaches to sign your core players early. The logic is sound: the money arrow is always pointing up in the NFL. The more dollars that come in, the higher the cap. As the cap grows, so too does the cost of the individual deals. If you have identified someone that you want to keep around long-term, it’s best to strike as soon as possible while leverage is still on your side and before the price spikes.
Cox became eligible for an extension at the conclusion of the 2014 season. Since then, Ndamukong Suh inked a six-year deal that contains a shade under $60 million in guarantees and averages out to about $19 million per year; Cox has elevated his game while marching a step closer to the end of his deal; and the cap jumped $10 million, with another $10 million bump (if not greater) expected to be announced in March for the ’16 season.
Some league insiders believe Cox will command somewhere around $16-18 million per season now, if not higher. Assuming the 25-year-old was willing to play ball last season, the Eagles lost a significant amount of money by waiting.
That (somewhat extreme) example helps explain why Roseman has been so aggressive to start this offseason. By signing Lane Johnson and Zach Ertz in their first year of eligibility, he locks them in at a number that may seem steep now but should eventually look like a bargain if the players continue to develop as anticipated.
It might not take very long at all to see that value. The 2016 cap number is expected to be released in early March. The 32 teams have already been told to expect an increase from $143.28 million to as high as $153.4 million. And that could prove to be conservative. The NFL just signed a deal with CBS and NBC for Thursday night games that will pay them $450 million annually — up from $300 million this past season. That’s an infusion of $150 million, over half of which will be designated for the players. Add that with an increase in ticket sales and the possibility of two teams moving to the L.A. market, and you’re looking at a potentially big leap in revenue over the coming years. This will be the third season that the salary cap has gone up at a clip of $10 million. It may only grow faster from here.
That should be reflected in free-agent prices this spring. The market will reset when the salary cap number is announced and free agency begins. Current precedents will become dated in a matter of weeks. Hence why Roseman and company are working to secure deals now. If Vinny Curry is allowed to get to free agency, his number could skyrocket. As Joel Corry recently pointed out, the Eagles (like other teams) strive for “internal salary consistency” and would probably be hesitant to pay Curry much more than Brandon Graham is making ($6.5 million annually). Given the large pool of cash that will be awaiting pending free agents, there’s a decent chance the Eagles would get blown out of the water trying to stick to that number. In that sense, it’s a race against the clock to get something with Curry done.
Then there is the Sam Bradford situation. Many are wondering how the recent deals have impacted the Eagles’ chances of being able to retain the QB. Long story short, they will be in a position to keep Bradford in the fold even if they need to go the franchise tag route (which will likely come in at around $19-$20 million). The Johnson, Ertz and Brent Celek deals are pretty cap-friendly for 2016 (Ertz, for instance, costs just a touch over $3 million against the cap). The Eagles currently have about $21 million available in space, per overthecap.com. Even with new deals for Cox and Curry, there is plenty of salary to be shed that can help make it work with Bradford.
Whether they choose to go down that road remains to be seen. What we do know is that the Eagles have returned to their old ways when it comes to player contract approach, which seems to be a generally positive development — particularly given the current environment.
WHAT YOU MISSED
A local “riser”, some insight into personnel head search, and a QB to the Eagles in Round 1? WTS.
“I said, ‘Sure, sure, like you’re going to go from high school to the NFL,’” Booty says, laughing at himself. “And of course, the laugh was on me.” Adam with a very good piece on Doug Pederson‘s stint as a high school coach.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Dave Zangaro with some observations from Senior Bowl week.
6. The most fun I had all week was Thursday morning while watching the North squad run 1-on-1s between receivers and DBs. I enjoyed it so much because I got a chance to watch Braxton Miller. What an absolutely electric player he might be. We knew the quarterback-turned-wideout from Ohio State was athletic before the week, but he showed me his capabilities as a route runner. He drew a ton of gasps from the crowd for some of his moves. They were ankle-breakers.
7. Wondering how the Temple kids looked? Well, I thought they held their own. Tyler Matakevich, who is probably the top Owl in the draft process, made some nice plays. But his two teammates impressed me even more. We’ll start with Matt Ioannidis. The defensive tackle wreaked havoc inside against the North team guards all week in practice. It was really impressive. Then, Tavon Young had a few big-time pass breakups. The Owls weren’t out of place with the rest of the competition.
Max Rappaport of PhiladelphiaEagles.com wonders what type of impact Pederson will have on DeMarco Murray.
With Pederson on board, the rookie head coach is excited by the prospect of finding ways to maximize Murray’s immense talent. As offensive coordinator of the Chiefs for the past three seasons, Kansas City ranked top 10 in rushing yards and top five in rushing touchdowns during every year of his tenure. This past season, the Chiefs ranked third in rushing yards per attempt (4.7) and first in rushing touchdowns (19).
His accomplishments in 2015 were made more impressive by the fact that the team’s leading rusher, four-time Pro Bowl selection Jamaal Charles, was knocked out for the year with a torn ACL in Week 5. In his absence, the Chiefs relied heavily upon two largely unproven young backs, Charcandrick West (634 yards) and Spencer Ware (403 yards). It’s easy to dream about the kind of success, then, that Pederson could have with Murray,Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles in Philadelphia.
“I think DeMarco Murray fits well into what I can bring,” Pederson told reporters during his introductory press conference. “I think there’s a unique style there with him. When you go back and look at his tape in Dallas, I think there are some great opportunities with him, more of a downhill-type guy, physical running back.”
We’ll continue to keep tabs on the personnel head search and potential extensions.