Best & Worst Contracts 2014: Philadelphia Eagles

Moving on to the champions of the NFC East…

Best Contract: Jason Kelce

Jason KelcePhiladelphia is one of those teams where there are always a number of good contracts. They are one of the best run front offices in the league and are often signing very team friendly contracts. There were a few places I thought of going with this including Brent Celek (who got the nod last season), Trent Cole, and even Riley Cooper, but thought that the Jason Kelce contract was just a bit better than all the others on the books.

Kelce is one of the bright young centers in the game, having started every game he was healthy enough to play in since his rookie year in 2011. Kelce was entering the final year of his contract and would have likely become a free agent in 2015 as the cost of the Franchise tag for centers is usually prohibitive for using a tag on the position. Kelce’s deal was also important for the Eagles to do sooner rather than later since they realized that the market could potentially change once Alex Mack hit free agency, not to mention expected extensions for the Pouncey brothers. While teams were awaiting final word on salary cap possibilities the Eagles entered into negotiations with their players and signed them before the new salary cap rise was made public knowledge.

The Eagles pretty much hit it right on all accounts. The higher priced centers did seem to extend the market. The salary cap rise was large.  None of it mattered to Philadelphia as Kelce was locked into a six year extension that pays $6.25 million a season. The value of the contract over the first three and four years is just $6 million a season and the signing bonus was also $6 million. By 2016 Kelce could be released with $3.6 million in cap charges and the last two years of the contract carry no dead money.

Over the first three years of the contract Kelce’s cap charge will never exceed $6.2 million and the Eagles did not give away much upside to get that. Kelce can only incase the value of the contract by $200,000 for each time he makes the Pro Bowl. The guarantee per year and percent guaranteed in the contract are well below the norms for a player in his salary range. About the only thing missing that could have benefitted the Eagles would have been per game roster bonuses to protect in the event of injury. That’s a very minor quibble on a very good contract.

Worst Contract: James Casey

James CaseyLast year there were plenty who disagreed with my selection of LeSean McCoy as worst contract on the team and the selection looked even worse in light of a great season. I still believe $10 million a season for almost any running back qualifies as a poor contract, but in light of last years use of James Casey I felt the need to change the pick.

Casey is one of those players that can play some tight end or a bit in the backfield. In today’s game I’m not sure that this is worth $4 million a season on a three year contract, but I know it is not worth it when you never play the player. Casey officially saw action in just 153 offensive snaps (around 14% of their plays) for the Eagles in 2013 and was relegated to mainly playing just special teams. The year prior, in Houston, Casey played in over 50% of the teams offensive plays.

What made it worse is that the Eagles guaranteed 50% of his contract- $6.05 million upon signing. If they were to release him this season it would cost the Eagles $2 million in cash. I don’t know if the Eagles did not play him because they were hoping they could find a trade partner and were afraid that playing him might hurt his trade value or just because they did not have space for him, but they essentially have a $4 million hole in their salary cap.

I’d guess they will see if they can trade him this preseason the way they traded Isaac Sopoaga last season, who had a similarly structured bad contract and rarely played, but I would think that ship has sailed. Maybe the Eagles will try to negotiate his contract down this season or perhaps they can find a role for him in the offense, but something will need to change to make the contract fit with the performance.

 

2013’s Best and Worst Eagles Contracts:

2013 Best Contract: Brent Celek (Starting TE)

2013 Worst Contract: LeSean McCoy (Pro Bowl RB)

Click Here to Check out OTC’s other Best and Worst Contracts from around the NFL!


 

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  • Dominik

    There were a few places I thought of going with this including [...] Trent Cole

    First of all, thank you for the article. I’ve been waiting for the Eagles best & worst for quite some time, I enjoy this segment :)

    Could you please clarify why Trent Coles contract is a good one, let alone a potentially best from a team that has a lot of team friendly contracts, like you postulate?
    His salary is ranked 4th at the 43DEs at his cap page and while the subject of 43DE or 34OLBs is a difficult one, he clearly isn’t an elite pass rusher anymore.

    I could see your point in having him relatively cheap through 2012-2014, with a reasonable cap hit. He balloons after the season and will clearly be restructured or cut after this season – with 3.2m dead if they cut him. But they couldn’t cut him this year or last year – even though he wasn’t as good as he was earlier in his career.

    • Sean Stott

      Why would they have wanted to cut him last year? He’s one of the best defensive players on the team, if not the best.

      • ICDogg

        I don’t think they would want to cut Cole, but he’s certainly not as productive as he once was. I think this will likely be his last season with the Eagles, especially if the rookie 1st round pick plays well. Cooper, it’s hard to say. He played well but it’s relatively short-term that he’s done anything.

        The foundation of this Eagles D is in the 3 man D-line, all young players (23, 24, and 25) playing pretty well already and who will likely improve in the 2nd year of the scheme.

        Best contract on the Eagles is obviously Foles, but I don’t think rookie contracts are what you are using in this exercise. Casey may well be the worst, since they haven’t been using him.

        • http://www.nyjetscap.com/ Jason Fitzgerald

          Yeah no rookie contracts as you and I could negotiate those since they are all slotted. Im not going to kill or credit a team for a draft pick and say its a good or bad contract. Veteran deals show the negotiators skills and gameplans in building a team.

      • Dominik

        Cole was non existent in the pass rush in the first 8 games, then he got a little hotter, but he collected 5 of his 8 sacks against the Raiders, Redskins and Cardinals – not exactly great O-Lines. The other three came against the Bears, where they were in a huge hole early and had to pass the whole time.

        I like Cole, but in this scheme, he’s not worth that kind of money. He’s a classic 43 DE. Can’t move in space, can’t cover – the opposing QB will know that he’s coming and that’s not what this new Defense is all about. You don’t have to be Luke Kuechly in coverage as an OLB in this system, but you shouldn’t be a liability, at least.

        If there would have been a good pass rushing FA on the market and they would have been able to cut Cole at a reasonable cost, I think they would have made it.

        But: I sure hope the best for Cole. Like I said, always a class act since he’s an Eagle. I just don’t think that Howie Roseman is too happy about this contract. In retrospective, that is, he couldn’t know that back in 2012.

    • http://www.nyjetscap.com/ Jason Fitzgerald

      To me that deal was about buying one season out of Cole (2014) and not have any contract headaches leading into it. He had been scheduled to count $7.5M or so in 2012 and 2013 and they took a cap increase of about $4 million over that time frame in return for the $6.6M cap hit this year. I look at that as a slight discount on the franchise tag and blocking headaches. I dont care one bit about the back end salaries on the deal because its all funny money. Its very different than the no reason extension the Cowboys gave Jay Ratliff a few years back that tied them into him or dead money forever.

      I also think Cole is pretty productive, albeit in an up and down manner (meaning he has some monster games and then is gone for other stretches). Now if they were tied beyond this year its an issue but hes not at that age yet where I would have been that concerned back in 2012 when signing it.

      • ICDogg

        Right, certainly they didn’t anticipate at that time that they would be switching from a wide 4-3 to a 2-gapping 3-4. Those base D’s are about as different as two NFL defenses can be from each other. The change in defense has left some players who were 4-3 linemen in situations where they really don’t fit as well as originally anticipated, most notably Cole, Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry.

    • http://www.nyjetscap.com/ Jason Fitzgerald

      Coopers I think is a decent deal when I see what other twos can do. Most get paid on potential (meaning a few big games like he had) and I thought he didnt. He also had zero upside in his contract. I consider him one of the better deals in the secondary market this offseason though Id have the same questions about his future as others do. I think the Eagles are hedging on both he and Maclin and thats a reason why they do so well year after year. They have players in place to evaluate before they make those decisions to cut ties with or phase out the veteran player.

      • Dominik

        Thanks for the explanation! I get your reasoning. I viewed Cooper contract as a little too high, but you’re the cap expert. If that is a team friendly, or at least a fair #2 contract, they did the right thing. He should be a solid #2, while I doubt he’ll ever be a #1.

        With Cole, it probably is more of a production concern for me. But again, I get your reasoning.

        Funny thing is, I read yesterday in an archive article from another blog back in 2012 that the Eagles didn’t anticipate a huge salary cap increase in 2014 – they thought it would barely increase at that time. They structured the contracts back in that FA period that way. While they were clearly wrong about that, it doesn’t matter really, since the 2012 draft class is awesome and they rollover the cap from this year to extend those young studs next year when they’re allowed to.