2021 Offseason Guide
We all know the inevitable of the 2021 offseason. We are in cap-hell, currently estimated at being 64 million dollars over the estimated cap floor of 175 million dollars. Some things are going to have to happen and I’d like to take you all through some scenarios that could occur in the coming offseason. There’s going to have to be a lot of movement so hunker down and let’s get into this thing.
Alshon Jeffery (Saves $7.827M)
Desean Jackson (Saves $5.802M)
Genard Avery (Saves $920,000)
Derek Barnett (Saves $10.051M)
Marquise Goodwin ($Saves 4.450M)
Rick Lovato (Saves $562,500)
Total Savings: $29,045,000
Cap Space: -$35,002,989
A few of these are inevitable and a few of these are up in the air. Regardless of the circumstances, Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson will not wear midnight green in 2021. With cap hits of $18.486M and $10.034M respectively, the pair of veteran wide receivers have combined to play 12 games over the last two seasons. Yes, I said combined. Two players on this roster are eating ~$28.5M in cap space and are giving the Eagles nothing in return. Genard Avery, whom the team traded their 2021 4th round pick for, is likely another cap casualty. A rotational pass rusher at best, when healthy, Avery hasn’t been what we expected him to be and that’s mostly because of the step forward that Josh Sweat has taken. Genard will find a new home, but not in Philadelphia. Fellow acquired veteran Marquise Goodwin may not ever take the field as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, after opting out of the 2020 season, a ~$4.5M cap hit for a one trick pony who has struggled with soft tissue injuries in the past doesn’t seem to be the smartest business decision. Former first round pick Derek Barnett has not lived up to expectations and is expecting a lofty pay raise due to his fifth-year option being picked up. However, with that contract being non-guaranteed, he is a prime candidate to receive the axe as well. As for Rick Lovato, you can’t justify paying a long-snapper $1.227M in this league. He’ll likely be replaced in the offseason.
Carson Wentz (Save 15.4M)
Brandon Graham (Saves $13M)
Fletcher Cox (Saves $15M)
Total Savings (w/ cuts): $72,445,000
Cap Space: $8,397,011
Obviously, this is where your big money conversions come into play. None of these players will lose any of their contractually obligated money. Their base salaries will all be converted into signing bonuses and they will receive their money up front, rather than a weekly salary. This is a common technique used in salary negotiations by GM’s, Howie’s go to technique actually, and with these being the three largest cap figures on the roster it should be a no brainer. Carson Wentz should be motivated to restructure his contract after a poor season and the overwhelming need for help/a youth infusion on the offensive line. Additionally, Brandon Graham will probably be given the ultimatum to restructure or finish his career elsewhere. I would assume BG wants to retire an Eagle and will be more than happy to cooperate. Fletch is always a team player and is willing to help the team move money around. Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks and Malik Jackson are other candidates to restructure.
Zach Ertz (Saves $4.702M)
A trade in the offseason for disgruntled tight end, Zach Ertz, is probably the best way to handle things. He’s made it clear that he wants to be paid as a top tight end in this league (along the lines of George Kittle/Travis Kelce) and that’s simply something the Eagles cannot afford. Zach has been great in Philadelphia. He’s a fan favorite and one of Carson Wentz’s favorite targets but that shouldn’t get in the way of them parting ways with Ertz rather than giving out another loyalty contract to an aging tight end that is nothing more than a slow slot receiver in the passing game and a traffic cone when blocking. Best wishes on your future, Zach.
Totals Savings: $77,147,000
Cap Space: $13,099,011
Jason Kelce (Saves $8.414M)
Man, what a career it has been for Jason Kelce. A sixth-round pick out of the University of Cincinnati, the man has given life to the undersized centers of the league. He has done everything asked of him and more in his tenure in Philadelphia but if there was ever a time to retire, now is the time to do it. Fighting through broken fingers, a broken arm, muscle strains, lower leg injuries, inconsistency from your guards, now is the time to go out on top. I’ll forever have love for you Kelce, and your play never dwindled, but help this team one last time, brother.
Total Savings: $85,561,000
Cap Space: $21,513,011
Just like that, we’re back in business. First thing is first though, free agency will happen before the draft so let’s dive into what free agency may hold for the Eagles with all this new found cap space.
UFA: Jason Peters, Jalen Mills, Nate Sudfeld, Will Parks, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Vinny Curry, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Ricard Rodgers, T.Y. McGill, Duke Riley, Corey Clement, Rudy Ford, Joshua Perkins, Nate Gerry.
RFA: Cameron Johnston, Boston Scott.
ERFA: Sua Opeta, Travis Fulgham, Luke Juriga, Michael Jacquet, Alex Singleton, Greg Ward.
Of the losses, I don’t see a lot of folks that jump out at me to have them be resigned. My guess is, the Eagles bring back Will Parks and Duke Riley on short turn (1 year) contracts and let the rest walk. Cre’Von will be hard to see go but we’re seeing what short corners in the NFL do and that’s get abused. Wide receivers are too physical in today’s league to just be fast. You must have size and speed. As for the RFA’s, I would look for them to tender a late round condition on both Johnston and Scott and all of the ERFA’s will likely return, excluding Sua Opeta.
Potential Free Agent Additions:
The Eagles have determined that Jalen Hurts is the backup quarterback for the next 3 ½ season. Given Sudfeld not dressing for any but one game this season, they will likely bring in a couple camp arms and ride with Wentz and Hurts for the season.
RB: Mike Davis (CAR), Marlon Mack (IND), Devonta Freeman (NYG)
I think the Eagles will be looking for a cheap compliment to Miles Sanders this offseason. They’ve been unwilling to spend big money at the running back position (rightfully so) for a while now and I don’t look for that to change this offseason. Marlon Mack is probably the peak of what they spend, with a low cost veteran like Devonta Freeman being the most likely outcome.
WR: Allen Robinson (CHI), Juju Smith-Schuster (PIT), Kenny Golladay (DET), Marvin Jones Jr. (DET), Curtis Samuel (CAR), Isaiah McKenzie (BUF), Tim Patrick (DEN)
Wide receiver could go one of two ways this offseason, they’re going to pay up for the young talent on the market with proven ability to play at an elite level on an NFL field, or they’re going to go with a mid-to-low cost option that will get them there until they try to develop the youth further. I’d much prefer the former because WR free agent groups like this don’t come around very often. AR12 and Juju should be the top targets but don’t sleep on Kenny Golladay either. Marvin Jones Jr. is on the list a mid-cost veteran presence to help the young group grow.
Tight End: None.
There will likely be a low-cost TE2 behind Goedert after the Ertz trade and a possibility at a Richard Rodgers return, but they shouldn’t be very active on the tight end market.
Offensive Line: None.
We’ll get to this in a later article. None in FREE AGENCY! Keep that in mind. Probably some low cost backups but nothing exciting.
Defensive Line: Jadaveon Clowney (TEN), Justin Houston (IND), Yannick Ngakoue (BAL), Derek Wolfe (BAL), Tak McKinnley (LVR), Larry Ogunjobi (CLE), Trey Hendrickson (NO), Carl Lawson (CIN).
Given the Eagles’ willingness to spend money on the defensive line, why not sure it up with the departure of Derek Barnett? BG, Fletch, Hargrave and Yannick sounds like a fun defensive line to watch. Even if they don’t spend big money on a young pass rusher like Yannick, Hendrickson or Lawson, look for them to bring in a low-priced veteran presence on a one-to-two year deal like they did with Chris Long. Additionally, they could look at Tak McKinnley as an underwhelming, youthful edge rusher that may have just been the product of being on a bad defense that they could bring in for cheap.
Linebacker: Avery Williamson (PIT), De’Vondre Campbell (ARI), Haason Reddick (ARI), Nicholas Morrow (LVR), Jarrad Davis (DET), Anthony Walker Jr. (IND), Matt Milano (BUF).
Who am I kidding? The Eagles don’t spend money on linebackers.
The Eagles have already paid big money to their top cornerback, Darius Slay, so don’t expect much movement on this front. Maybe they bring back Will Parks, maybe they bring back Jalen Mills, but I don’t expect any “shock and awe” from the front office in the secondary.
My best guess of free agent additions:
Devonta Freeman, Curtis Samuel, Justin Houston, Haason Reddick.
I don’t think the Eagles will be big players in free agency. They’ll make a couple signings that people don’t see coming but mostly just filling holes the cheapest way possible, but still keeping the fans interested. I think their big plays will come in the draft and the trade market, which is what I’m going to get into next.
Nick Easton – C/OG – New Orleans Saints
A small bodied interior utility man that has made starts across the entire offensive line, but suddenly finds himself out of a position with club control for 3 more seasons? Sign me up.
Justin Simmons – S – Denver Broncos
If you want a splash play in the secondary, this is the one for you. This would technically take a sign-and-trade with the Denver Broncos but if they show willing enough to franchise tag the defensive superstar again, look for him to request a trade.
Kerryon Johnson – RB – Detroit Lions
Lastly, we need a solid running back behind Miles Sanders and that’s never been more evident. The Eagles have signed/drafted three straight backs that mirror each-others skill sets. It’s time to get somebody that can run between the tackles and not force the ball outside on the perimeter.
Well, up until the draft, this is my guide to the 2021 offseason. It’s going to be tricky, it’s going to be a rollercoaster ride and it’s not always going to be fun for us. There are some players that are going to go that we don’t want to see and we’re going to have to make moves to flip the script on this team and I think these are the moves that help us get to that point. Either way, Go Birds!