According to ESPN, the Eagles have the 5th most cap space in the NFL.
Teams with the most available salary cap space. pic.twitter.com/yfklqVczgp
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) April 15, 2014
A common reaction to the Eagles being flush with salary cap space is to wonder why they didn't go hard after safety Jairus Byrd or other top name free agents. The reason is simple. The Eagles have a number of players from the very productive 2012 draft class that they are going to have to lock up long term, and they already have a lot of money allocated to the 2015 cap. According to overthecap.com, the Eagles currently have the 2nd highest 2015 cap number in the NFL.
While there are some big contracts the Eagles can easily shed (DeMeco Ryans, Trent Cole, Cary Williams, etc.), the Eagles front office would still be wise to ensure they can lock up their own good players to long term deals.
In the same way your cell phone plan had rollover minutes, in the NFL, you can roll over unused cap space into the following year.
The 2012 draft class, which included Nick Foles, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Boykin, Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry, and Bryce Brown, are all set to become unrestricted free agents after the 2015 season. The Eagles may need that excess $20 million in cap space this year to sign those players, and others, to long term deals. Here's a list of current Eagles who could be cashing in next offseason:
• Nick Foles: If Foles builds on his 2013 performance in 2014, he's going to make bank in a big way.
• Fletcher Cox: Cox has yet to have that dominant breakout season, but at the very least, he has proven to be a good NFL starter the Eagles will look to lock up long term.
• Brandon Boykin: This one is a little tricky. How do you pay Boykin? Or more importantly, how does Boykin want to be paid? Will he want to be paid like a starting "every down" CB? You can bet he thinks he can be a very good every down starting CB, as opposed to just being stuck in a sub package role, and he's probably right. I think the Eagles would love to lock down Boykin for the long term, but I wonder if the two sides will differ on his projected future role, and how he should be paid for whatever that role may be. Still, Boykin is an obvious player the Eagles will want to keep around.
• Mychal Kendricks: Kendricks struggled as a rookie and in the early part of the 2013 season, but was much better as his second season wore on. He still has plenty of upside, and with DeMeco Ryans' tenure as an Eagle potentially coming to a close sometime in the next year, Kendricks' importance to the middle of the defense will be heightened.
• Jeremy Maclin: Maclin is of course on a one-year "show me" deal. If he produces in the Eagles' offense, he'll be in line for a new long term deal, which the Eagles reportedly wanted to do in the first place.
• Cedric Thornton: Thornton will be a restricted free agent next offseason, but if he continues to be a valuable starter in the Eagles' 3-4 defense, the Eagles may look to lock him up long term.
• Bradley Fletcher: Fletcher is the first "outsider" on this list. He'll be an unrestricted free agent after this season. Prior to the 2013 season, Fletcher signed a modest 2 year deal worth $5.25 million, and was a pleasant surprise in his first year with the Eagles. If he continues to stay healthy and play well, Fletcher is a perfectly fine 2nd CB. The Eagles will have to make a decision on Cary Williams next season, who will count for $8.16 million against the cap in 2015. If the Eagles choose to move on from Williams, it would make sense to bang out a new deal for Fletcher.
• Allen Barbre: Barbre will be a free agent after this season, and he's the Eagles' best OL backup. With the Eagles' starting OGs getting up there in age, Barbre, who will be 30 in June himself but with low mileage, could find himself being a bigger part of the team's plans.
• Vinny Curry: Here's another odd one. Curry is thought by some to be on the trading block because of an imperfect fit in the Eagles' defense. However, if he continues to adapt to the Eagles' 2-gap defensive scheme, his role (and his production) in the defense could increase and make the Eagles think about trying to keep him long term.
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