It’s not that the Eagles have no salary cap space, but they’re certainly in a situation where they’ll be able to add some more by either reworking some contracts or letting go of some guys completely. It’s always a tough decision to let a long-time veteran go just because he’s too expensive, but sometimes it needs to happen. There have even been talks of the Eagles parting ways with LeSean McCoy because of his high cap number. This seems unlikely, but it’s sobering to think that it’s even a possibility. Having a hard cap forces teams to make tough decisions, and the Eagles will have their fair share of them.
Because of this need for cap space, I am going to lay out a few possibilities of players the Eagles could release, trade, or restructure in order to save money. As always, all salary cap data is thanks to the amazing service known as Overthecap. Here’s my list:
LB Trent Cole
Trent Cole has been a great defensive player for the Eagles over the years and has spent his whole career with them. He did a good job of converting from a 4-3 DE to a 3-4 OLB, totaling 52 tackles, 6.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. He’s actually one of my favorite players on the defense. The problem with him is how expensive he is for his age. Cole is 32 and has played 10 seasons in the NFL. His cap hit next year would be second highest on the team at $11.625 million, and the team could save $8.45 million if they cut him prior to June 1. If they cut him after that day, they can save $10.025 million. That seems like a no-brainer that he needs to leave in some fashion, unless he’s able to restructure his contract to lower his cap hit. If he can get it down to $4 million or lower, or somewhere in that range, he’ll probably stay with the team. I hope that’s the route they go.
My verdict: restructure his contract
Cary Williams seems like the most likely player to not be in an Eagles jersey next year. He had a pretty bad season last year and was part of one of the worst secondaries in the entire league. He is a bit of a punk and gets a lot of penalties. Oh yeah, and his $8.2 million cap hit is fourth highest on the team. If the Eagles release him, they get $6.5 million in savings no matter what time they do it. For a player that played as bad as he did last year, it barely makes sense to bring him back in any capacity regardless of cap hit. But his exorbitant cap hit is just another huge reason why he should be released as soon as possible.
My verdict: release him immediately
LB DeMeco Ryans
When people first started suggesting that the Eagles should part ways with DeMeco Ryans after this year, I adamantly argued with that. But the more time that passes, the more I move towards the idea that maybe they shouldn’t bring him back. He has a cap hit of $6.9 million, which is currently sixth highest on the team. Is he really that valuable? He’s coming off his second Achilles tear of his career and has already reached the 30-year-old mark. I still think Ryans has a few years left in him, but the injuries may have decreased his ability for the rest of his playing career. Even if he came back, would he be the same player? One of the reasons the Texans got rid of him was his first Achilles injury. He eventually returned to form, but not immediately. The fact that they can save all of his cap hit by releasing him is enticing, but it’s too early to tell if he’s on his way out.
My verdict: keep him one last year, but don’t re-sign after that
TE Brent Celek
I’d be lying if I didn’t say Brent Celek has been one of my favorite Eagles these past bunch of years. He’s such a tough guy and is a great blocker, never seeming to get injured. I just love every time he gets jacked up by two guys, only to stand up and scream in triumph for holding onto the ball. This is an example of a long-time veteran that makes sense to hold on to for now. He does have a cap hit of $4.8 million, and the Eagles could save all of that if they cut him. His receiving numbers have noticeably declined in the past few years, so is it worth it to pay that much for a mostly blocking tight end? In his case, yes.
My verdict: keep him
TE James Casey
Alright, I can’t exactly make a case for Casey staying on the team. I was surprised to see him stay on the roster last offseason, but he managed to do it. TE/ST/whatever position he really is Trey Burton impressed as a special teams player in 2014, and I’d like to see him get a little involved in the offense. Assuming they keep Celek, which seems pretty likely in my opinion, I don’t see Casey coming back. He’s spent the past two years as a third string tight end who barely played, he’s not exactly worth the $4 million cap hit that’s attached to him. He did technically have more touchdowns than Celek last year, but he barely saw the field.
My verdict: release him
RB LeSean McCoy
I really don’t want to be putting him on this list, but unfortunately there is still a chance LeSean McCoy is not a member of the Eagles next year. Why? Well, running backs have seemingly become one of the more expendable positions across the league, and he has a cap hit of $11.95 million, the highest on the team. Based on what the Cowboys apparently offered DeMarco Murray, the top RB in the league this past year, that position isn’t quite valued in the double digit millions. The Eagles would save $7.6 million if they released him before June 1 and $9.3 million if they released him after that day. It seems like a good opportunity to save some money, especially considering he said he doesn’t want to take a pay cut. Still though, I doubt it will happen.
My verdict: keep him
WR Riley Cooper
There is a very low chance the Eagles would get rid of Riley Cooper so soon after they just signed him to a big deal, but there still remains a small chance. He has a $4.8 million cap hit next year, which is far above his value. He was the worst wide receiver in the league last year, so his worth is basically nothing. If the Eagles released him and drafted somebody else, I highly doubt he would be of lower quality than Cooper. The Eagles would only save $1 million if they cut Cooper, and that’s only if it’s after June 1. But if they need a little extra cash to sign someone, I don’t think it’s a terrible idea to cut ties with him.
My verdict: I’d cut him after June 1, but he’ll probably be back