Offseason Preview: Philadelphia Eagles
In case you missed it, the Philadelphia Eagles made the first major move of their 2021 offseason. On Thursday, they agreed to trade quarterback Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a couple of draft picks. Let’s take a look at the Eagles’ outlook leading up to the start of the league year and free agency.
The Wentz Trade
A toxic saga came to an end on Thursday with the trade agreement that will send Carson Wentz to Indianapolis for the 2021 season. In exchange, the Eagles received a 3rd-round draft pick in the 2021 draft as well as a conditional 2nd-round pick in 2022. The 2nd-rounder can become a 1st-round pick if Carson Wentz plays at least 75% of the Colts’ offensive snaps in 2021. It could also become a 1st-round pick if Wentz plays a minimum of 70% of the Colts’ offensive snaps and they qualify for the playoffs.
The Wentz trade leaves the Eagles with a heavy cap hit of $33.8 million, but after this season, he is completely off the books from Philadelphia going forward. Following the NFL’s announcement of a $180 million minimum salary cap, teams now have a better idea of where their finances need to be before the start of the league year. While Wentz’s contract will occupy a significant portion of this season’s salary, it now allows Philadelphia more flexibility to move money around to future years, which will be necessary because the Eagles are currently projected to be about $47 million over the 2021 salary cap.
Getting Under the Salary Cap
With the Philadelphia Eagles’ current salary cap situation, they will be forced to make some significant moves with their high-profile players. Some will likely receive restructured contracts with more guarantees to shift salaries away from 2021. Others will likely be looking for employment elsewhere in an offseason that could see more player transactions than we have ever seen before.
Here are the players who would be considered realistic candidates to restructure their contracts and remain with the team. They are listed in order of their 2021 cap number.
- DT Fletcher Cox
- DE Brandon Graham
- RT Lane Johnson
- DT Javon Hargrave
- RG Brandon Brooks
- LG Isaac Seumalo
- FS Rodney McLeod
- K Jake Elliott
ON THE FENCE
Next, we have players whose future with the Eagles is unknown. It would not be a surprise to see them playing elsewhere, but there is still a decent chance they return for 2021.
- CB Darius Slay
- DE Derek Barnett
- C Jason Kelce (considering retirement)
- WR Marquise Goodwin (likely release with a chance to re-sign)
- WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside
- DB Jalen Mills
UNLIKELY TO RETURN
These players would be a considered a surprise to return to the Eagles in 2021. They are likely headed elsewhere because of their contract and/or their standing in the team dynamic.
- QB Carson Wentz (traded to Indianapolis)
- TE Zach Ertz (trade rumors circulating)
- WR DeSean Jackson
- WR Alshon Jeffery (restructured contract to accommodate June 1 release)
- DT Malik Jackson (restructured contract to accommodate June 1 release)
- LT Jason Peters
- LB Nate Gerry
Free Agent Options
While the Eagles are not expected to bring in any high-profile free agents this offseason as a result of their salary cap situation. With that in mind, the team still has several holes to fill. If they follow the path most expect, their top needs will be wide receiver, cornerback, linebacker, and quarterback. Let’s take a look at some budget-friendly options on the free agent market.
The Eagles need a veteran wide receiver to add some experience to a young group of receivers.
- Marquise Goodwin – highly likely to be released but could be re-signed for close to the veteran minimum. Philadelphia traded for him last offseason, so there is clearly some interest.
- Mohamad Sanu – high character veteran to lead a young WR room. Sanu relies on technique and reliable hands so he could be like another position coach on the field.
Darius Slay is the projected starter on one side but he could be moved due to his expensive contract. The Eagles need at least one starter across from him and possibly a second in the event he is moved.
- Xavier Rhodes – played his best football under Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon. Rhodes is 31 and has experience in the scheme.
- Dre Kirkpatrick – played in a similar scheme and was a former 1st-round selection by Cincinnati.
- Rasul Douglas – former 3rd-round selection of the Eagles who is better fit for Gannon’s defense than former DC Jim Schwartz.
The Eagles have neglected the linebacker position for several years and are void of talent at the position. It is possible that they sport two new starters compared to week 1 of 2020.
- Anthony Walker Jr. - was in Indianapolis for the first 4 seasons of his career with Gannon and Head Coach Nick Sirianni. He’s a former 5th-round pick and has been reliable starter for the Colts in the shadow of Darius Leonard.
- Reggie Ragland – highly regarded out of college but has struggled with injuries early in his career. He played in all 16 games two of the last three seasons and could be a bargain find to play significant snaps in 2021.
Following the Carson Wentz trade, Jalen Hurts will be the only quarterback on the Eagles’ roster. They are expected to add some competition as well as a reliable backup in the event of injury to the mobile Hurts.
- Tyrod Taylor – served as the stop-gap quarterback for Justin Herbert in Los Angeles and has experience with Eagles’ Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen. He has a similar play style to Jalen Hurts.
- Nate Sudfeld – spent the past four seasons in Philadelphia and the organization has a very high opinion of him.