NFL Free Agency is in full swing, and many teams have made many moves. One team that has been quiet, however, is the Philadelphia Eagles. Then again, this shouldn’t really be a surprise. The Eagles cap situation was pretty dire, even after the restructures. The team is more on the sell and rebuild side versus the buy and compete side. That doesn’t mean that the Eagles haven’t made any moves, but most of them are in search of further cap relief.
As predicted, 31-year-old wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was released. He hardly played the last two years, and he never reached the lofty heights he set for the Chicago Bears. Still, Jeffery was a great wide receiver for the Birds, and will forever be remembered for his touchdown in Super Bowl 52. However, Jeffery has been far too injury prone and less than reliable, and he was completely ineffective in 2020.
The Eagles also released DT Malik Jackson the same day. Jackson suffered a season-ending injury early in his debut season for the Birds in 2019, but was fairly productive in 2020. He was second in QB hits and tied fourth in tackles for loss amongst the Eagles. Javon Hargrave really showed out in the second half of the season however, making Jackson surplus to requirements.
These moves don’t really alleviate any cap room this year, but they do insure that the contracts will be off the books for 2022, which is a good idea anyways. Next year is most likely a lost season, so getting 2022 as free as possible is the goal.
Marquise Goodwin never played for the Eagles due to sitting out from Covid concerns. He reverts back to the San Francisco 49ers and was then promptly cut. He nets the Eagles a seventh-round pick for their troubles, giving them 11 picks in the upcoming draft..
Eagles Contract Restructures
Brandon Graham officially got his restructure. It’s a one-year extension worth $20 million over two years for the defensive end. Full details are yet to come out, but considering Graham’s old cap hit was $17 million, significant savings are most likely due. As for extending him, Graham had his best year in 2020, and has been getting better every year. He’s also one of the leaders on the team and one of the best locker room guys.
Kicker Jake Elliot and safety Rodney McLeod also received restructures, although details haven’t been released. McLeod’s cap hit was $5.5 million and Elliot’s was $3.3. Before suffering a season-ending ACL injury, McLeod was having a great season, with the Eagles’ safeties ranking sixth in coverage grade according to PFF. However, McLeod will be 31 going into the season, and while ACLs aren’t the death-knell they used to be, it still isn’t great. A restructure is fine, as long as it’s not an extension.
As for Elliot, Doug Pederson’s propensity for going for it on 4th down and a general lack of offense meant Elliot ranked 28th in field goal attempts. Without much chance to show his stuff, his career low field goal percentage may just be variance. He was perfect from 30-49, but strangely missed two field goals between 20-29, then was 2/5 from 50+, which isn’t terrible, but also isn’t good.
Eagles Free Agency Signings
Eagles re-sign DT Hassan Ridgeway for depth behind Hargrave and Fletcher Cox. He’s been effective when playing, but has only managed 14 games in two years with the Birds. Full contract details still forthcoming. On one hand, Ridgeway is extremely solid. On the other, paying a guy to play less than half the season is worrisome. The injuries were unrelated, but there is real question marks about his ability to stay on the field.
The Eagles replace Jalen Mills (who went to the Patriots) with safety Andrew Adams. He was a starter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019, but was relegated to mostly special teams duties last year with the emergence of Antoine Winfield Jr. and Jordan Whitehead as the preferred safety duo. While he has starting experience, it’s assumed he will be more of a depth piece than the regular starter.
With all the moves that have been made so far, the Eagles are reportedly under the cap as of right now. That’s pretty impressive, given they were over by $30+ million just a week or so ago. Zach Ertz can still be moved. Trade talks have started with the Los Angeles Chargers and the Buffalo Bills, but nothing concrete has come yet. It’s important to note that the Eagles aren’t forced to make a move on him. If a good offer doesn’t come, Howie Roseman is unlikely to budge.
The likelihood of the Eagles being good in 2021 is quite low. Unless Jalen Hurts turns into 2010 Michael Vick and the defense suddenly shapes up, 2021 is looking pretty lost. Whatever moves that can be made to free up space down the road are the moves the Eagles should be making. 2022 and beyond should be the goals here. That also means not making any reckless signings in free agency this year. Restraint is the name of the game for the Eagles in 2021, and that’s been the general strategy so far.