The Philadelphia Eagles made a mockery of themselves in the 2011 offseason by signing a slew of big-name free agents to ridiculous contracts.
Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha earned the biggest contract, signing a five-year deal worth $60 million. The Eagles also inked defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, defensive end Jason Babin and quarterback Vince Young to sizable deals.
Most of those players have not lived up to their contracts, with Young and Babin already gone, Asomugha likely to be released this offseason and Jenkins a possibility to leave as well. Yet despite all of their struggles handling players through free agency, the Eagles still have the most available salary cap space in the entire NFL.
That's right. Out of all 32 teams, the Eagles are in the best shape when it comes to spending money this offseason. That's good news for a fanbase that is desperately hoping for new head coach Chip Kelly to turn around a 4-12 team that lost 11 of its last 12 games in 2012.
The following slides will go through each position on the Eagles and address how the team is doing with its salary cap space, as well as my projections for the 2013 offseason.
When the Eagles re-signed Michael Vick to a one-year contract worth up to $10 million in incentives, they saved themselves a tremendous amount of money. Vick had been scheduled to make $17.9 million in 2013. It's likely that the Eagles saved themselves about $10-to-11 million with Vick's new contract.
The contract for new Eagles quarterback Dennis Dixon has not yet been released but it's likely about $1 million at the most. Nick Foles is scheduled to make $636,345 in 2013 and veteran Trent Edwards will undoubtedly be cut, freeing up $715,000 in salary cap space.
The Eagles may look to target a quarterback in the draft, likely in the middle or upper rounds, to compete for the 2013 starting job. But with the news that the Eagles are not interested in trading Foles, it's likely that the team's three quarterbacks for 2013 are already set and no further moves will be made.
There's absolutely nothing the Eagles should do at the running back position during the offseason. It's set as it is.
Veteran LeSean McCoy is scheduled to make $4.95 million in 2013. He's obviously not going anywhere, as McCoy is still considered one of the top backs in the league.
Backups Bryce Brown, Dion Lewis and Chris Polk, as well as fullback Stanley Havili, will each make about $500,000 next season. Brown and Havili are a lock to make the team, while Lewis and Polk will likely compete for the third running back spot.
In the second year of his new contract, DeSean Jackson will make $9 million. That's a hefty figure but it's worth it for the Eagles, as Jackson has the potential to be one of the most explosive receivers in the NFL.
Jeremy Maclin ($2.953 million) and Jason Avant ($2.71 million) are each bargains for their price and their spots on the 2013 team are all but locked in. Riley Cooper and Damaris Johnson, the team's fourth and fifth wide receivers, will make a little more than $1 million combined.
The Eagles should leave the wide receiver position alone this offseason.
Veteran Brent Celek is scheduled to earn $4.531 million in 2013. That's a lot of money to pay a tight end but Celek is a vital part of the Eagles offense. He's never made a Pro Bowl and he has inconsistent stretches but he's effective enough to finish with about 700 receiving yards each season.
Clay Harbor ($743,250) will likely be the backup to Celek for the fourth straight season.
Again, the Eagles don't need to make any moves at tight end. Their skill position players are arguably their biggest strength.
The Eagles saved $9.6 million by cutting veteran left tackle Demetress Bell following the season. Five-time Pro Bowler Jason Peters will return in 2013. He's scheduled to make more than $10 million, but he's also one of the best tackles in the game so he's definitely worth his salary.
Left guard Evan Mathis ($4 million), center Jason Kelce ($580,000) and right tackle Todd Herremans ($4.3 million) are all valuable members of the offensive line. Mathis and Herremans are fresh off new contracts signed last offseason, while Kelce is still on his rookie contract.
The problem for the Eagles is the amount of money due to right guard Danny Watkins, the team's first-round draft pick in 2011. Watkins is scheduled to earn $2.17 million, which is too much money for a player who was benched in both 2011 and 2012. I expect the Eagles to cut Watkins this offseason and make a push in free agency for Buffalo Bills guard Andy Levitre. If not Levitre, the Eagles should target a starting-caliber guard in the draft.
Things are complicated on the defensive line, as five players are scheduled to make more than $2 million. There's no way all five are on the team next season, especially with the Eagles switching to a 3-4 defense this offseason.
Defensive ends Trent Cole ($5.35) and Brandon Graham ($2.95) will definitely be on the 2013 team. Both deserve to be starters. 2012 first-round draft pick Fletcher Cox ($2.32) was the team's best defensive lineman as a rookie.
The issue for the Eagles is at defensive tackle, where a pair of veterans, Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson, are both in danger of getting cut. Jenkins is scheduled to earn $5.5 million. Patterson will make $4.064 million.
I think one of the two will be cut and I think it will be Patterson, who turns 30 next season. Jenkins is 32 but he's a better player and one of the team's few vocal leaders on the defensive side of the ball.
Expect the Eagles to draft a defensive lineman or two but I don't see the Eagles making a free-agent signing here.
Veteran DeMeco Ryans is a potential salary cap casualty, as he's due $6.6 million in 2013. But I don't see the benefits of cutting the team's best linebacker after only one season in Philadelphia.
The team's other four linebackers (Mychal Kendricks, Casey Matthews, Jamar Chaney and Jason Williams) will all earn less than $1 million in 2013. Expect Kendricks and two of the other three to return.
This is a position where the Eagles would have the room to target a player in free agency, such as veteran Nick Barnett, who was recently released by the Buffalo Bills. Expect a player to be drafted too.
I just don't see any possible way the Eagles can justify keeping Nnamdi Asomugha, who is scheduled to earn $15.3 million in 2013. Asomugha was a below-average cornerback in 2011 and a terrible cornerback in 2012. He's going to be 32 years old in July and he's clearly on the decline. Consider him gone.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a free agent and will likely receive a sizable contract based on name recognition and past success with the Arizona Cardinals. The Eagles could put the franchise tag on him, likely costing about $10 million, but it makes much more sense to let him go.
That leaves the Eagles room to sign a player in free agency, such as Sean Smith of the Miami Dolphins. They will also likely draft at least one cornerback, possibly with the fourth overall pick. And they could even make a massive trade if they wanted to.
Money isn't the issue at safety. Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman are scheduled to make less than $2 million between them in 2012. Talent is the issue. Neither Allen or Coleman is good enough to start.
The Eagles would be smart to make a serious run at Jairus Byrd, the 26-year-old for the Buffalo Bills who has been one of the league's best safeties over the past few seasons. William Moore and LaRon Landry are other possibilities at safety, as well as veteran George Wilson.
In the draft, the Eagles definitely need to select a safety. The second or third round (or both) seems logical to me.
The secondary is where the Eagles should be spending the most money this offseason. All four players may not return to the 2013 team.