Eagles 2016 Offseason Preview

Current Estimated 2016 Cap Space: $21.1 million

 


Expected 2016 Cap Space: $34.4 million

 

Estimated Rookie Cap: $6.471 million

Roster Overview

 

Players Under Contract: 60
Pro Bowlers: 3
Unrestricted Free Agents: 8(3 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 13

Salary Cap Breakdown

Eagles Salary Cap

Eagles Offensive Spending

Eagles Defensive Spending

Free Agents to Re-sign

The Eagles are likely stuck in the “what other option do we have” category when it comes to Sam Bradford. His perceived value comes almost exclusively because of draft status and little else, but it was also clear that the team was better off with him than Mark Sanchez last year. I can understand the logic of looking elsewhere but the best solution might be a two year deal at a reasonable price with big incentives for the playoffs. If he is too expensive though the team can not go there…If not too expensive bringing back Walter Thurmond might help the defense, though he is always an injury risk. It may depend on if the new staff sees him as a safety or corner.

Free Agents to Let Walk

The Eagles are pretty invested in their defensive line which likely means Cedric Thornton will have a new home in 2016…The Eagles can do better than bringing back Nolan Carroll.

 

Contracts to Modify

The Eagles got a jump on me here by already doing contracts for Zach Ertz and Lane Johnson which really leaves Fletcher Cox as the prime player left. The rumors are that the Eagles have already begun contract talks with Cox. In light of the contracts signed for Johnson and Vinny Curry, Cox is likely going to ask for the moon.  Cox is every bit as productive as Marcell Dareus who earns over $15 million a year. Re-signing Cox puts the team in a tricky spot with Bradford as many will argue that the non-stopgap or rookie QB has to be the highest paid player on the team and a deal for Cox in excess of $15M puts them in a bind with Bradford. My assumption is if a deal gets done with Cox before Bradford that is over $13 million per year that means Bradford will not be back…I would look into seeing if Jason Peters is willing to bring his cap number down with a tradeoff as added guarantees. The team has hitched their finances to Johnson as the tackle of the future and the O-line cap numbers are pretty high for a team that still need o-line help. Peters pretty much tipped his hand when he pulled himself last year that he is only playing for a winner at this stage of his career and there may be no better way to build a winner than to have the money to spend on others around him…The Eagles already reworked the contract of Brent Celek.

Players to Consider Releasing

If the team is going to bring back Bradford I think the backup needs to be a young player with upside, even given Bradford’s injury history, not Mark Sanchez. Cutting Sanchez would save $3.5 million in cap room…Darren Sproles is always a weapon on a return but they would be better off saving $3.5 million by cutting the veteran runner…Every year Im surprised DeMeco Ryans is still on the team and I’ll probably be surprised again this year when they don’t save $3.5 million by cutting him.

Salary Cap Analytics by Bryce Johnston

The Eagles entered the offseason in a slightly below average cap situation for 2016 and a slightly above average cap situation for 2017 and beyond, when the Murray and Maxwell contracts will see sizeable (but not complete) decreases in true salary cap commitment.  However, after signing Ertz, Johnson, Curry and Celek  to new contracts, the team now ranks 6th in the league in Commitment Index and is a large Sam Bradford or Fletcher Cox contract away from challenging for the most committed team for 2017 and beyond (before taking free agency into account, which will likely alter the rankings to a large degree).

There has been some discussion as to whether the Eagles must choose between Bradford or Cox in the wake of the Ertz/Johnson/Curry/Celek contracts.  However, the NFL salary cap never forces a choice as to one player versus another.  The choice is more a question of present production versus future flexibility and the degree to which the team feels comfortable making future salary cap commitment to the players involved and roster as a whole.

The team does not have many obvious contracts to terminate; Cooper has already been released and Sproles will most likely be an outlier as 33-year-old RB playing out the final year of a contract.  If the team views this as a retooling year and would prefer to shift the utilization of potential 2016 assets into future seasons, trading Barwin, Jenkins, Peters, Mathews and/or Sproles – while releasing Ryans, passing on Bradford, and generally punting on free agency – would leave the team in an excellent salary cap position in 2017 as the result of carried-forward cap space and additional rookie contracts from the 2016 and 2017 drafts.

Bryce Johnston, @NFL Cap Analytics

Expected Contract OutcomesExpected Contract Value 2.0 utilizes an algorithm based on a player’s contract characteristics, age, position and 2015 performance to forecast probabilities as to the outcomes of contract termination decisions.   The lower the Expected Outcome, the more likely the player’s contract will be terminated in 2016.  A pay cut is treated as a termination.  We have applied ECV 2.0 to all contracts scheduled to count $2 million or more against the 2016 salary cap with the exception of exercised 5th year rookie options.  Expected Savings is the calculated by multiplying the probability a player will be released by the cap savings realized by the team upon such release.

PlayerPositionExpected OutcomeExpected Savings
Lane Johnson*OL99.9%($20,475)
Nelson AgholorREC99.9%($7,412)
Zach ErtzREC99.7%($31,200)
Mychal KendricksF799.1%($40,920)
Byron MaxwellDB98.2%($121,440)
Vinny CurryF797.4%($396,000)
Marcus SmithF795.6%($44,112)
Brandon GrahamF794.9%($101,200)
DeMarco MurrayRB94.7%($267,500)
Jason KelceOL94.0%$96,800
Brent Celek*REC93.6%($257,600)
Connor BarwinF788.9%$349,335
Ryan MathewsRB71.2%$287,900
Malcolm JenkinsDB64.5%$1,951,950
Jason PetersOL51.2%$3,287,900
Riley CooperREC47.5%$1,523,080
Donnie JonesKP47.0%$927,850
Mark SanchezQB38.0%$2,170,700
DeMeco RyansF733.6%$2,323,650
Darren SprolesRB8.0%$3,221,400
Expected Change in Cap Room+$14,852,706

 

*Prior to signing extensions:  Brent Celek (18.1%) and Lane Johnson (94.7%).

 

True Cap SpaceRealizable Cap Space depicts the total amount of salary cap space potentially at the team’s disposal in 2016, and True Cap Space makes further adjustments to take into consideration amounts that are accounted for in practical terms.  Most True Cap Space will be used on players currently under contract as a result of the team choosing to not release them.

True Cap Space (2016)
Adjusted Salary Cap$157,280,362
Prorated Signing Bonus Amounts($24,301,075)
Realizable Cap Space$132,979,287
Fully Guaranteed Salary($29,997,066)
Minimum Salary Cap Holds($19,350,000)
True Cap Space$83,632,221
League Rank22nd

Commitment Index – Commitment Index identifies the degree to which a team has “mortgaged its future” by measuring its net future salary cap commitments  as a percentage of the average net future salary cap commitments of all teams.  A Commitment Index Score of 100% is average, and a negative Commitment Index Score indicates that the team has more current salary cap space than future salary cap commitments.  The Commitment Index Score of every team in the league changes to at least some degree with every transaction executed by any team in the league, so Commitment Index Score is measured as of a specific point in time (in this case, January 11, 2016). 

Commitment Index (2017+)*
Prorated Signing Bonus Amounts$26,917,683
Fully Guaranteed Salary$4,423,488
Current Cap Space($20,109,262)
Net Commitment$11,231,909
Commitment Index Score65%
League Rank (1st = Most Committed)19th

*Following the contracts signed by Zach Ertz, Lane Johnson, Vinny Curry and Brent Celek, the Eagles now maintain a Commitment Index Score of 271%, which ranks 6th in the league.

Offseason Plan

Id imagine that a lot of the Eagles offseason plans will revolve around what happens with Bradford. If the Eagles get boxed into a bigger than expected contract for Bradford they probably won’t have much to spend. If Bradford goes then they probably have a few extra dollars to spend, though in either event I don’t expect the Eagles to jump in on the most expensive players as they did last year.

The Eagles big runs in free agency generally have not been a big success so I think the fact that they are spending so much to keep their current players in place gives us an idea as to what they are planning this year- a focus on the mid tier talent to fill the roster and finding the impact player in the draft. They already have, by my estimates, the highest salary spent on a roster and it will be hard to catch them if they extend both Cox and Bradford. That’s a pretty solid justification for not doing the Byron Maxwell type contracts this year.

If Bradford leaves that probably puts the Eagles into the market for Chase Daniel or a similar low cost player with a bit of upside. There is the rumor that the Eagles are considered bringing back Nick Foles who they traded to the Rams last year. Foles would cost the team $7.75 million if they acquired him which would be an affordable option. I could see the logic in that even though Foles was so bad for the Rams last year. He is familiar with the organization and one year at $8 million is probably a better value that Bradford at $16.  There is also no long term commitment with Foles.

The one position I think they will target in free agency is guard. Given who the coach is it sees logical that they will be linked to Jeff Allen in free agency. Alex Boone and Ramon Foster would be two other names that might provide value at a reasonable price. With all the money they have invested in DeMarco Murray they have to improve their interior line play so this to me is their number 1 priority. Would they bring back Evan Mathis and blame all of that situation on Chip?  Stranger things have happened.

If Thurmond does not come back then the Eagles should look for a safety in free agency. Safety is very deep this year and there will a number of names that may not be terribly expensive.  George Iloka of the Bengals might be a name to watch. I think he would fit the mold of high upside player that isn’t the kind of name that will be a backbreaker. He should help the run defense.

They will be looking for depth at linebacker, cornerback, and even the d-line to allow for more rotations, but I see these as all draft needs. Im sure they will sign some minimum salary types to fill those roles, but its almost always better to have younger players in those spots. In the draft the team may look for a tackle of the future as well as a young quarterback to groom plus more depth at the positions above.

The Eagles have more on-paper talent than their results from last season and should be right in the thick of things if the coaching staff gets more out of the team and they fix their offensive line.

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