Eagles re-sign Thornton, release Avant as free agency nears

Eagles GM Howie Roseman has been quite busy this offseason, and free agency hasn’t even begun. With just a week now to go until free agents officially hit the market, he’s been able to lock up a lot of their important players. This is key because it prevents these players from even having an opportunity to get offers from other teams. DE Cedric Thornton was a big re-signing because of how well he played, and WR Jason Avant was an expected release in order to make room for further moves. I’m very happy with the way the Eagles have started this offseason.

Getting Thornton back is a key move. In his first season moving from a 4-3 DT to a 3-4 DE, he picked up 60 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. And he’s still very young at just three years into the league. While the details of the 1-year deal he signed are not available at the moment, it’s sure to be at least a slight increase from the $555k he made last year. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that number at least triple…he’s worth it. He’s also eligible to be a restricted free agent next year, but I have a feeling the Eagles will make an effort to re-sign him again if he keeps this up.

In order to counteract this signing, the Eagles received veteran receiver Avant. Avant, who spent his entire career with the Eagles, was set to make a $1 million roster bonus soon and close to $4 million overall for the year, so they made sure to release him before the bonus kicked in. Avant had been a solid backup WR for them for his whole 8-year career, but the Eagles made the right decision to let him go once his contract got steeper than his worth. Avant had a much less productive season last year than usual, even without the presence of Jeremy Maclin. He finished the year with 38 catches for 447 yards and 2 TDs. While those aren’t bad stats for a 4th receiver, it’s a decrease in production, and it’s not surprising now that he’s getting much older. Despite the release though, they’ll still have a $710k cap hit from Avant’s contract, but that’s a lot better than $4 million

Since the Thornton and Maclin deals haven’t provided specific numbers that can factor into the team salary cap, they still sit with about $8 million in space (including the dead money). Safeties T.J. Ward and Jairus Byrd both will not be given the franchise tag, so there’s always a chance that the Eagles would target them, but at this point it seems a lot less likely. Regardless, Roseman is doing an excellent job of getting this team to the next level.

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