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.
Here is a quick look at every teams estimated 2021 salary cap space against their 2020 record
Top right= good record, good cap position
Top left= good record, bad cap position
Bottom right= bad record, good cap position
Bottom left= disaster pic.twitter.com/3Wo7luqCJg
— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) January 11, 2021
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.