Eagles' Top Contracts to Consider Cutting Ahead of NFL Free Agency

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IFebruary 8, 2021

Eagles' Top Contracts to Consider Cutting Ahead of NFL Free Agency

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    After completing a 2020 season that was played amid the coronavirus pandemic, there are numerous NFL teams that need to find ways to clear salary-cap space heading into the offseason. That includes the Philadelphia Eagles, who will need to subtract some contracts if they are to make additions to their roster.

    The Eagles are projected to be $49 million over the salary cap by Over The Cap (based on a $180 million cap, which hasn't yet been set for this year). But it may not be long before Philadelphia begins making moves to put itself in a better financial situation.

    On Saturday, ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter reported that the Eagles are likely to trade quarterback Carson Wentz "in the coming days," and that would be a huge contract off the books for 2021. The 28-year-old is set to make $25.4 million next season and has four years remaining on his current deal.

    Even if a trade happens, though, Philadelphia will likely make other moves to clear additional cap space.

    Here's a look at several players the Eagles could consider cutting this offseason.

Malik Jackson, DT

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    Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

    Malik Jackson earned $10.1 million in 2020, but he did not generate the type of production to merit that contract. In 15 games (six starts), he had 28 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He had only one sack over his final nine games of the season.

    ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported on January 4 that the defensive tackle had agreed to restructure his contract for 2021, but that may only be a short-term financial solution. And the 31-year-old may not play a big role for Philadelphia, either, so it could make sense for the two sides to part ways.

    It wouldn't be a total surprise if the Eagles also decided to cut ties with fellow DT Fletcher Cox, who is set to make $16 million next season and is under contract for two more years. However, the 30-year-old could have more trade value than Jackson, so there may end up being offers for Philadelphia to consider.

    If the Eagles want to move on from Jackson, they'd likely have to release him. And as Philadelphia potentially tries to get younger on the defensive line, it might make the most sense to clear a bit of cap space and give his playing time to somebody else moving forward.

Alshon Jeffery, WR

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Like Jackson, Alshon Jeffery agreed to restructure his contract for 2021, per Fowler. However, the wide receiver is still set to bring a $6.6 million cap hit for next season, and it would only be a short-term financial solution for the Eagles.

    The best decision may be for Philadelphia to cut ties with the 30-year-old, who has been limited to 17 games over the past two seasons. In 2020, he played only seven games, notching six receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown. And that's one of several reasons why the Eagles' receiving corps was one of their weakest position groups.

    Philadelphia will likely want to add a receiver or two this offseason, whether that's through free agency or the draft. It could also cut ties with DeSean Jackson, another veteran receiver who has dealt with injuries and hasn't lived up to expectations in recent years.

    Perhaps the Eagles will see if Jeffery is garnering any trade interest, but that may no longer be an option considering his recent injuries and lack of production.

    And with how badly Philadelphia needs to create cap space, now may be the time to move on from trying to give the South Carolina product a role in its offense.

Derek Barnett, DE

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    It can be tough for teams to release players it once used a first-round draft pick to select. But sometimes, it's the move that needs to be made, and that may be the situation between the Eagles and defensive end Derek Barnett.

    The 24-year-old was selected by Philadelphia at No. 14 overall in the 2017 NFL draft, but he hasn't quite lived up to expectations over his first four years. He's now set to make $10 million in 2021, before becoming a free agent after the season.

    If the Eagles aren't planning to sign Barnett to a long-term deal, then it may make sense to release him now (assuming they're not able to find a trade partner) as that would clear a substantial amount of cap space. He had 34 tackles and 5.5 sacks in 13 games this past season, so Philadelphia wouldn't be losing a huge part of its pass rush, either.

    Plus, the Eagles may look to add pass-rushers this offseason to build a better defensive front. That likely isn't possible to do without clearing cap space, so the Tennessee product could end up being a casualty of those circumstances this offseason.