The Eagles made the right decisions this past week in locking up some players for the future. It wasn’t a guarantee that the Eagles would be able to re-sign both Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin because of cap space, but they managed to do it. In addition, the Eagles locked up C Jason Kelce and T Jason Peters to long-term deals to keep their stud offensive line in Philadelphia. These moves are the first of many that the Eagles will have to make this offseason to keep around the important guys and let others go that are too expensive or don’t fit the style of play anymore. But these four are a great start.
The most breaking news of these is the retention of both Cooper and Maclin. It seemed like for a while that it would be one or the other, with Maclin getting the priority because of how well he’s done for the Eagles in his career, but I’m very glad they kept both. Chip Kelly likes big, tall receivers, and Cooper is definitely that guy at 6’3″ and 222 pounds. While Maclin and DeSean Jackson don’t fit that bill, they are quick guys that can go down the field and help run the fast-paced offense Kelly likes.
Cooper got a little more than I originally expected, with his contract valued at $25 million over 5 years ($8 million guaranteed). $5 million a year average isn’t too bad, but considering he’s only had half of a good season, it’s a bit steep. His cap hit next year is only $1.8 million too which is low for now. I have confidence though that as long as Nick Foles is under center next year, Cooper will continue to dominate and have an equally good season, even with Maclin there. Maclin got a 1 year deal for $3.5 million guaranteed, with a maximum of $6 million. I’d be fine with paying him that full amount as long as he doesn’t get hurt again. This will likely be the first step to locking him up for a long-term deal if he doesn’t ask for too much next year.
While getting Cooper and Maclin back was huge, extending the contracts of Kelce and Peters was equally important. Peters’ deal was a 4 year, $38.3 million extension that will actually give him a lower cap hit for the next three seasons than 2013 while still keeping him on the team (his cap hit in 2013 was $11 million and his cap hit in 2014 will be $8.3 million). Kelce’s extension was a 6 year, $37.5 million deal with about $10 million guaranteed. His cap hit next year will increase by about $2 million, and then will increase another $1.6 million in 2015. But if he continues to be one of the best centers in the league, I have absolutely no problem with them paying him that much money. He’s worth it.
These signings will certainly use up a lot of the cap space earned from Michael Vick’s departure and the extra $10 million in the salary cap, but they still have about $6 million remaining (not including the Maclin deal, which hasn’t had a cap hit determined at the moment). Since Maclin’s deal could be up to $6 million, that could use up the rest, which means other players on the roster could be gone. Likely candidates are Jason Avant and James Casey, both of whom would have a cap hit of close to $4 million next year. While these players are nice veterans to have on the team, they’re not worth the amount of money they’re getting in comparison to their on the field importance. They’ll also have to make room for rookies in the 2014 draft, so Casey, Avant, and others could all be on the way out. Either way, the moves the Eagles have made so far are putting them in a good situation for free agency and the 2014 season.