Over the salary cap: Top 10 highest paid Eagles players

Posted on February 16, 2021 - Last Updated on February 22, 2021

Each year, the Philadelphia Eagles seem to struggle with their salary cap. More times than not, it looks worse than it is before restructuring contracts. However, this year, due to lousy draft picks and poor deals by general manager Howie Roseman, the front office has some work to do.

Historically speaking, the salary cap increases each year. In fact, 2011 was the only year it decreased — until 2021. Due to revenue loss from the COVID-19 pandemic, the projected salary cap for the 2021 season is $175 million (down from $198 million in 2020). Fortunately, the Eagles can bring over $22.7 million in cap space from the 2020 season resulting in a projected salary cap of $197.7 million.

But…as it stands, the Eagles have 64 players on their contract, with the top 51 equating to approximately $250 million in salaries. The Eagles now need to save $52 million before the start of the season.

Below is a look at the top 10 highest paid Eagles players for 2021, some of which may save Philadelphia money if they decide to part ways.

Carson Wentz — $34,673,536

It’s no secret that Carson Wentz has been the most talked-about player all season. With persistent rumors regarding a trade, Philadelphia braced for the news last week, but nothing came.

If a trade does occur before Wentz’s roster bonus activates on March 19, the Eagles will take on $33.8 million in dead cap space. It would be the largest dead cap hit in NFL history.

If Philly decides to forego a trade, they will spend just shy of a million dollars more to keep him on the roster. However, if the “franchise quarterback” remains the team’s franchise quarterback, his contract could be restructured, saving approximately $18 million. This would have to be a sure plan, as pushing money into future seasons would make it difficult to move on later.

Fletcher Cox — $23,880,000

In 2016, Fletcher Cox signed a six-year contract extension worth $103 million with $63 million guaranteed.

Hypothetically speaking, if the Eagles cut Cox, they would save $2.8 million in salary-cap space. This would never happen. Cox has been with Philadelphia his entire NFL career, and he is consistently one of the team’s best players, earning his sixth Pro-Bowl this past season.

The Eagles could restructure his salary, saving as much as $11 million.

Brandon Graham — $17,928,000

Graham has also been with Philadelphia since the start of his NFL career. In 2019, he signed a three-year, $40 million contract extension. This past season he secured his first Pro Bowl.

If the Eagles part ways now, they would save $716,000, which is pennies compared to Graham’s worth. Restructuring his contract would save about $9 million.

Lane Johnson — $17,848,500

So far, each of Philadelphia’s highest-paid players started their NFL career as an Eagle. Lane Johnson is no different.

First signing with the team in 2013, he signed a six-year contract extension worth $63 million with $35.5 million guaranteed in 2016, becoming the highest-paid right tackle in the NFL. His contract was revised again in 2019; a four-year $72 million deal with $54.6 million guaranteed. He is now the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL.

The Eagles won’t cut him, but they could restructure his deal.

Darius Slay — $15,750,000

Slay was traded to the Eagles in 2020 in exchange for a third-round and fifth-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. He signed a three-deal worth $50 million, with $30 million guaranteed. 

Javon Hargrave — $15,200,000

Hargrave, who was previously with the Pittsburgh Steelers, joined Philadelphia in March 2020. He signed a three-year $39 million contract.

Brandon Brooks — $14,554,235

In 2016, Brandon Brooks joined the Eagles, signing a five-year, $40 million deal. His contract was extended in 2019 through the 2024 season and came with a $54.2 million salary.

Brooks was named to the Pro Bowl in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Given his success in Philadelphia, the Eagles would be senseless to even think about parting ways with him.

Zach Ertz — $12,471,500

Similar to Carson Wentz, Zach Ertz’s name has been tossed all over the NFL recently. Before the 2020 season, contract extensions with big paydays were given to tight ends across the league — namely, George Kittle of the 49ers and Chiefs’ Travis Kelce.

Ertz wanted a piece of the pie too, but the extension never came. He then played one of the worst seasons of his career, later becoming emotional when questioned about potentially leaving Philadelphia.

There are now rumors about Ertz and Wentz becoming a package trade deal. If rumors prove true, the Eagles will save $4.7 million; however, they could also restructure his contract, saving $4.8 million.

DeSean Jackson — $10,659,000 

Jackson’s second stint with the Eagles began in 2019 when he signed a three-year $27.9 million contract. He may be one of the best players to ever come through Philadelphia, but Jackson has only played a total of eight games since his return.

Some may argue that in those eight games, he has still been able to make NFL history (most recently setting a record for 25 career touchdowns of 60-plus yards), but the 34-year-old can’t seem to remain healthy.

If the Eagles part ways with him this year, they will save nearly $6 million.

Derek Barnett — $10,051,000

The Eagles signed Barnett in 2017 to a four-year, $12.85 million contract. In 2020, the team exercised their fifth-year option, which has now increased Barnett’s salary by almost $8 million compared to last year.

If Philadelphia were to part ways, they save $10 million.

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Alicia Andaloro

Alicia was born and raised in Philadelphia, becoming an avid Eagles fan as a child. She graduated from Penn State University and now works in the medical field. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and baking.

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