The Philadelphia Eagles have already handed out a lot of money, but they’ll need to make a few moves to increase their cap space.
I’ve always loved analyzing a team’s salary cap and the money side of things. It’s honestly one of my favorite parts about following professional football. The Eagles have dished out some new contracts to a lot of players such as Lane Johnson, Vinny Curry, Zach Ertz and Brent Celek, and with a decision still to be made about Sam Bradford and if they’re willing to pay him, they need to start thinking about clearing a little more space in their team salary.
Following the release of Riley Cooper, the Eagles now have about $21.6 million in cap space, which is not going to be enough to both keep Bradford and sign rookies, much less any free agents they want. The cap still hasn’t seen its yearly increase, which I would guess to be about $10 million, so that will help. But who should be cap casualties moving forward? These are some possible names to keep in mind:
QB Mark Sanchez
He’s set to make $5.5 million next year, and the Eagles could save $3.5 million of that by releasing him. They could even save $4.5 million if they traded him, which shouldn’t be out of the question if they were somehow able to trade Matt Barkley last offseason. Sanchez is still a serviceable backup, and could even fight for a starting job on a team that has a disastrous QB situation. Either way, drafting a backup or getting a much cheaper one in free agency is a much better option than keeping the overpaid Sanchez.
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I don’t think Barwin has ever played in a 4-3 in the NFL, and while I don’t think it’s too late for him to learn, the Eagles probably already have starters at both DE and OLB that means that Barwin may be the odd man out. It would really pain me to see him go because of how much of a leader and great person he is, but the Eagles do save $3.15 million by cutting him and $6.15 million by trading him. He’s still talented enough to be traded for a mid-round pick in my opinion, and using that pick to draft a guy that’s a better fit may be beneficial in the long-run.
Sproles has been great as a return man these past couple years, which has been a huge boost to the team’s special teams, but on offense he’s been a little underwhelming. Whether it’s incorrect use, under-use or something else, Sproles just isn’t the same player he was five years ago. As almost exclusively a returner he’d be worth keeping, but at $4.5 million, and with DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews already on the roster, there might not be space for all three. Cutting or trading Sproles would save $3.5 million. They might be able to get a late round pick for him in a trade, but at his age, he’s not really worth his salary.
LB DeMeco Ryans
I feel like the only reason Ryans was kept around last year was because he was such an important leader on the defense, but other guys have taken over that role at this point, so Ryans is left as primarily a backup. I expect Jordan Hicks, Kiko Alonso and Mychal Kendricks to be the starting linebackers, and that’s assuming Barwin isn’t even in the mix. Ryans doesn’t really have a place on the team unless as depth, and he’s too expensive for that. They save $3.5 million by cutting him, and it may be worth it.
OT Dennis Kelly (save $790,000), DE Brandon Bair (save $725,000), DE Taylor Hart (save $546,1220) and RB Kenjon Barner (save $600,000) are all other guys who could easily be cut, among some other smaller names on the team. It wouldn’t save much to cut any of these guys, but I have a feeling that every dollar will count this offseason.