Updating the Philadelphia Eagles' Cap Situation After First Wave of Free Agency

Bryn SwartzSenior Writer IIIMarch 25, 2014

Philadelphia Eagles' DeSean Jackson warms up before an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the New Orleans Saints, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Michael Perez/Associated Press

For the most part, the Philadelphia Eagles are finished with free agency. Their main focus right now is on the NFL draft, which is just six weeks away. Oh, and there's the minor issue of whether DeSean Jackson will be on the team in 2014, an issue that has completely dominated the headlines for the past week. 

The Eagles' salary-cap situation for 2014 will be drastically affected by the team's decision to either keep, trade or release DeSean Jackson, but for the sake of this article, we'll assume Jackson is going to be on the 2014 team. After all, he did tweet this morning that he talked to Chip Kelly, which many have taken to mean that the two are now on good terms

So, moving on to the salary cap, the Eagles have $75,017,363 committed to the offense in 2014 and $50,170,753 committed to the defense. That's easily the highest amount of money any team has committed to its offense in 2014 (and don't forget that Nick Foles earns less than one million). 

They're going to be using an estimated $131,468,925 in total cap, giving them $17,831,024 in available cap space. That figure ranks the Eagles eighth in cap space among the 32 NFL teams. 

This comes after a free-agency spending spree that was considered to be relatively mild, especially considering the team's major moves in 2011. Even last year, the Eagles were big spenders in free agency, adding six new starters on the defensive side of the ball.

This year, the Eagles signed just two potential starters on defense: cornerback Nolan Carroll and safety Malcolm Jenkins. Realistically, Carroll will probably open the season as the third or even fourth cornerback, providing much-needed depth, while Jenkins is guaranteed to be one of the two starting safeties. 

Other additions include linebacker Bryan Braman, safety Chris Maragos and running back Darren Sproles. Braman and Maragos were signed as free agents and will mostly play on special teams. Sproles was acquired in a trade for a fifth-round pick and will be a key member of the offense for the next few seasons. 

As it stands, the Eagles have a lot to think about involving their future. Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Nick Foles and Brandon Boykin are all due for contract extensions next offseason, assuming they continue to play well this year. 

In order to pay those players, the Eagles will need to make a number of cuts. The good news is that they have some fairly obvious player cuts to make after this season. 

Philadelphia Eagles Player Contracts in 2015
PlayerContractAge By Start of 2015 Season
DeSean Jackson12 million28.8
Trent Cole11.63 million32.9
Cary Williams8.17 million30.7
DeMeco Ryans6.8 million31.1
Connor Barwin6.1 million28.9
Todd Herremans5.2 million32.9
Brent Celek4.8 million30.6
James Casey4 million30.9
Brandon Graham3.22 million27.4

There's no way Cole will be on the team in 2015. The same goes with Cary Williams. DeMeco Ryans. Todd Herremans. James Casey. Probably Brent Celek and Brandon Graham. And yes, DeSean Jackson. 

That's a ton of money the Eagles could save by getting rid of a bunch of players who are either a) going to be past their prime, b) not that good or c) both. 

The Eagles could save over $30 million just by releasing Cole, Williams, Ryans and Herremans, all likely obvious roster cuts within the next year-and-a-half. That'll give the team much-needed money to extend their own players or add free agents from other teams. 

General manager Howie Roseman has proven to know exactly what he's doing when it comes to allocating the team's salary cap. He extends players at the right time, like he did during the 2012 offseason and this past offseason. He's learned from the disastrous 2011 Dream Team fiasco, and now spends wisely, like he did in 2013, or sparingly, like he did this year. 

The Eagles are in prime position to make a run in the NFC over the next few seasons. They have a tremendous head coach, a smart GM, a brilliant young quarterback, a top offense and an improving defense. Add in some smart decisions with the salary cap in the next year and the Eagles could quickly turn into a powerhouse with the room to add some top-notch free agents if they desire.