With Jenkins Out, Eagles Continue to Wash Hands of 2011 Spending Spree

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistFebruary 25, 2013

Aug 30, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (97) along the sidelines during the second quarter against the New York Jets at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Jets 28-10. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Actions speak louder than words, and the Philadelphia Eagles continue to admit that their "Dream Team" spending spree of 2011 was a tremendous mistake, this time with the release of defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins (first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter).

Jenkins wasn't a problem in Philadelphia the last two years, but the 32-year-old certainly didn't appear as though he had enough left in him to be part of the solution. The Eagles are switching to a 3-4 defense, which Jenkins has plenty of experience in, but he wasn't worth his salary.

With $4 million being wiped from the books, this was close to being a no-brainer for the Eagles, who are now very likely to look for a 3-4 defensive end to pair up with Fletcher Cox in the draft and/or free agency.

It's also another step away from that summer spending spree that made the Eagles the darlings of the lockout-shortened 2011 offseason. Jason Babin, Ronnie Brown and Vince Young were also part of that splurge, and none of them made it through two seasons. Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could both be destined to join those four as former Eagles in the coming weeks. 

The Eagles have a ton of cap space and all of their key draft picks as they look to reload and find replacements for those who represented a failed experiment under a former regime. With Jenkins and Babin gone, potentially the entire secondary hitting the road, and with Bill Davis bringing his 4-3 under scheme to town, expect this D to look extremely different in 2013. 

Temporarily, you can pencil in Mike Patterson or Cedric Thornton as replacements for Jenkins, but this is a team that is likely to have somewhere between $20 and $30 million in cap space by the time the new league year launches in mid-March. General manager Howie Roseman might fear pulling a 2011 all over again by spending that money aggressively, but it's good to know you have the flexibility to take some chances as you retool.

Cutting Jenkins helps the Eagles get to that point.

They're gambling that they'll find someone who is nearly as effective in the draft or on the open market, or that Patterson or Thornton can hold it down (not likely). Considering Jenkins' age and salary, that seems like a solid gamble to make. 

UPDATE: The Eagles confirmed later in the day that Patterson is also out, leaving Cox and Thornton as the only two real options at defensive end. It's safe to assume they'll be focusing on that position this offseason.