The Eagles have made it a point recently to identify who on their roster is sticking around and who is no longer in their plans for the future. While they’ve mainly been focusing on the first of those, the moves they make hint at who they’re no longer interested in keeping around, whether it be for salary issues or because they don’t fit into the system. Now that they’ve re-signed Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, Jason Peters, and Jason Kelce, their cap space has been sufficiently reduced and they need to make moves to clear some back up. Here are some players they could part ways with to clear some salary:
WR Jason Avant
Avant has been a respected wide receiver his whole career in Philadelphia, known for almost always making the catch and keeping his mouth shut. He’s the perfect example of a great leader that still knows his place on the team without expecting to be the highest paid player and get all the targets. The problem is, he’s played 8 seasons and he’s starting to drop off. He had the lowest receiving yards since 2008 and has never had a season of more than 3 TDs. Yes, he’s an excellent 4th WR, but nothing more than that. And with the Eagles spending a lot of money now on his position, spending $3.96 million on Avant in 2014 (his cap hit) will likely not be in their plans. He’s a nice veteran to have, but I have a feeling he’s played his last games in Philadelphia unless he takes a pay cut.
TE James Casey
The Eagles signed Casey before the 2013 season with the idea that he’d be the 2nd TE on the team and play a lot in Chip Kelly’s new system. But when the Eagles drafted TE Zach Ertz in the second round of last year’s draft, Casey became expendable immediately. He proved himself to be a solid pass catcher filling in for Owen Daniels in Houston as well as an excellent blocker, but he was just not needed in Philadelphia after the drafting of Ertz. Sure, Casey might be a nice 3rd TE if they could keep him around for under a million, but it seems unlikely that they’d pay him $3.985 million (his cap hit in 2014) after catching just 3 catches for 31 yards last year. I really like the guy, but he’s just not worth his contract. He’s probably gone at this point.
LB Brandon Graham
As a Michigan fan for most of my life, it pains me to admit that Graham has been a pretty big bust since the Eagles traded up in the first round to snag him 13th overall. No, he hasn’t been terrible, but he hasn’t played to the caliber of a first round pick, and they’ve never even needed him because they had better guys. He could probably be a starter on another team, but at this point it’s unlikely that that will ever be in Philadelphia. His cap hit in 2014 is expected to be $3.378 million, which isn’t insane, but with the amount he plays, it’s not worth it. He for some reason doesn’t fit the system (I don’t get it, he’s a better build for a LB than a DE in the NFL) so they’re not likely to keep him around much longer. Unless they keep him and trade another one of their LBs…
LB Trent Cole
Yes, that weak foreshadowing in that last sentence was to Cole. It’s even more painful to admit that Cole is probably not the best fit for a 3-4 defense since he’s a pass-rushing DE, but there have been rumors that Cole could be on his way out in exchange for a high-round rookie. Cole is still a great player and could easily start for most teams, but a cap hit of $6.6 million next year could deter more than a couple teams. That is, unless the Eagles don’t get much in return. If I were them, I’d trade Cole on draft day after they’ve already selected an OLB so that they can be 100% sure that they have someone to fill in for him. It’s a shame that he may be gone, but maybe things will work out and he’ll get to stay. But dumping his salary might look attractive to the Eagles front office, so who knows.
S Patrick Chung
Chung was brought in last year to try and save the awfulness that was the Eagles secondary. Well, they managed to only help the CBs on the team because the safeties are still a disaster. Chung can be a really good player at times, and other times he can be terrible. That is, when he’s actually on the field. He missed four games last year and was banged up in many others, forcing the Eagles to mix and match at the safety position. He didn’t have a single INT last year after having at least one in every season he’s played, and he’s also never played a full season. I’m actually fine with keeping him around since Kurt Coleman, Colt Anderson, and Nate Allen could be gone as well, but if they’re trying to dump a little salary, he makes $3.25 million next year.
Since I’m obviously not a member of the Eagles front office, these predictions are total speculation. A few of these guys I’d like to see still on the roster, but teams have to make tough decisions because of the nature of the business.