Eagles Wake-Up Call: Wish List Extends Beyond Bradford, Cox
Even with the NFL’s salary cap rising some $12 million in 2016, a lengthy offseason to-do list could edge the Eagles closer to the ceiling than is typical under Howie Roseman (and Joe Banner before him).
“We had gotten accustomed to pushing over a lot of money (from the previous year); it’s going to be much more difficult to do that,” Roseman acknowledged recently. “We still have a couple things we’d like to do here in this offseason.”
Including signing Fletcher Cox to what promises to be a mega-deal, and locking Sam Bradford into a contract that could be worth around $15 million per season. That could take a pretty sizable chunk out of the estimated $30 million in available cap room that the Eagles currently enjoy.
And while those are the two top priorities at the moment, they are not the only ones.
The Eagles, for instance, appear to be interested in re-signing free-agent to-be Nolan Carroll. Roseman spoke with Carroll’s representation on Monday, according to a source familiar with the situation, and the two sides are expected to have further discussions on Wednesday. (Tuesday, it seems, will be dedicated largely to the Bradford talks.)
Carroll was having a pretty strong season before breaking his ankle against the Lions on Thanksgiving. The 29-year-old corner expects to be back on the field by OTAs. He has expressed his desire to return to Philadelphia, though that tune could change if he’s allowed to hit the open market. A handful of teams have shown preliminary interest, per a source, including a couple within the division. Given that the Eagles may very well have the starting corner spot opposite Byron Maxwell in mind for Eric Rowe, they could quickly be priced out in any free-agent bidding. So sooner rather than later might be the answer there.
They must decide how to proceed at the safety position. Jason La Canfora named the Eagles as one of the teams that are “sniffing around the high-end safety market” before mentioning Eric Weddle as a possible $8 million per year player. Walter Thurmond would surely command less than that, but he stands to be a free agent himself if no deal is struck between now and when the legal tampering portion of free agency open on March 7.
There is the offensive line to consider. Perhaps linebacker and wide receiver, too. Enough wants/needs that, coupled with the in-house deals given out and the two big ones potentially yet to come, could make for some pretty tight cap times in the near future. All the more reason to come to a resolution with Bradford sooner rather than later so that a much-needed road map can be fully laid out.
WHAT YOU MISSED
More on the Bradford situation, with a couple thoughts.
“They’re just trying to get this done.” What they’re saying about Sam Bradford and the Eagles.
Josh’s notebook from a busy week at the NFL Combine, including the weirdest questions asked.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Tommy Lawlor writes that grooming a quarterback behind Bradford might be good thing.
I’m sure some people would prefer the Eagles just spend pick 13 on a QB and let that guy play right away. If you go back to 1999, Donovan McNabb spent about half the season on the bench and then took over. Wouldn’t Doug Pederson want a model like that?
The problem is that QBs these days are not as NFL ready. McNabb spent most of his college career playing under center. He understood 5 and 7-step drops and the importance of timing. McNabb still had plenty of learning to do to adjust to the NFL. But at least he knew the basics. Jared Goff and Paxton Lynch are accomplished passers, but they have a lot of learning to do on NFL QB basics.
You can argue that these guys are better off sitting for a year or even two. Think about the two best QBs in the league. Tom Brady sat for a year. Aaron Rodgers sat for 3 years. Really gifted athletes like Russell Wilson and Cam Newton started from day one. Both have been very successful, but are still developing as passers.
There is something to be said for having Bradford start for the next few years while the rookie learns from the bench. There are no guarantees. This model didn’t work with Kevin Kolb.
Jeff McLane of the Inquirer takes a look at the Eagles by position, starting with quarterback and the volatile running back situation.
The Eagles have $16.5 million in salary-cap space earmarked for three running backs: DeMarco Murray ($8 million), Darren Sproles ($4.5 million) and Ryan Mathews ($4 million). That’s a lot of money devoted to one position, especially a position in which it’s possible to get production from cheaper alternatives.
Murray wants out of Philly, or so it has been reported this offseason. He has wanted out for a while, it seems. But what’s his gripe now? [Chip] Kelly and his offense are gone. He’s still among the highest-paid running backs in the NFL and he should have more opportunities to run downhill in [Doug] Pederson’s scheme. I just can’t see the Eagles being able to trade Murray with his contract – unless he’s willing to take a significant pay cut. Flat out releasing him before June 1 would cost the Eagles $13 million in dead money. So he’ll likely be back.
Deadline to use the franchise and transition tag is 4 p.m. Could be an interesting day.