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I answered the first batch of your questions yesterday and we got enough for three separate mailbags, so that’s how we’ll do this. Another coming tomorrow.
Let’s get to today’s questions:
Which other veterans do you see being released or traded this off-season as the Eagles begin the rebuild?
— Shawn (@ShawnPatrickS) February 19, 2021
I think this question came before DeSean Jackson was released by the Eagles but that was a pretty obvious one. There are at least three other veterans I’m sure won’t be back in 2021: Alshon Jeffery, Malik Jackson and Zach Ertz. With Jeffery and Malik Jackson, the Eagles have already determined they’re going to cut them. They restructured their contracts so they can cut them with a post-June 1 designation and still get salary cap benefit before that. We know Jeffery and Jackson are going to get cut because the Eagles built in $25 million base salaries in 2022 for both if they are on the roster on the second day of the new league year, according to a league source. That’s in place to guarantee they get cut in a timely manner. So they’ll be released by March 17.
And Ertz is definitely gone too. He knew it when he had a tearful press conference the day after the season. The Eagles are going to try to trade Ertz, but I don’t think he has a ton of value. If they’re able to move him, the Eagles will get a Day 3 pick back. And if this lingers too long, my guess is that he asks for his release.
Aside from those three, there’s nothing definite. But any older player with a big salary has to be available in a trade. The first guy I think of is Darius Slay. He doesn’t have the long ties to the franchise like Fletcher Cox or Brandon Graham and he makes a ton this season. He could be a nice addition for a team in contention.
This is now a total rebuild (scary thought with Howie picking talent);
1 - how long until Eagles are consistant playoff team again? (Worst case?)
2 - should trading down for more picks be an option?
— AR (@rometone215) February 19, 2021
1. This is a good question and no one knows the answer. I know Howie Roseman hasn’t had the best track record in the draft recently but the Eagles made 10 picks last year and they’re going to make around nine this year. So there is more opportunity for him to build this team. He was able to do it very quickly the last time but he did it with a bunch of cheap contracts for veterans, which isn’t a sustainable way to build a team. They’re going to attempt to build a young nucleus now.
It doesn’t take long for rebuilds in the NFL anymore and if the Eagles get a couple young players in this year’s draft this year, they’re well on their way. The quarterback situation is something they’ll have to figure out but if Jalen Hurts is the guy, they’ll have a chance to surround him with young talent. Another important note: By eating this dead money for Carson Wentz this year, the Eagles’ cap situation really improves in 2022 as the league-wide cap number should hopefully skyrocket. The Eagles could be big spenders in a year, so this rebuild might not take as long as you think.
2. Yeah, it’s always an option, but it’s situational. If the Eagles are sitting at 6 and they have two players with almost identical grades and they think they can get one of them at, say, 9, then they’ll move down. The Eagles look at the draft through the lens of value. It’s all about maximizing value.
If the Eagles could redo the 2016 draft, would they still draft Wentz? If not, who would they draft instead? Maybe not trade up?
— Brian Wiora (@brianwiorasport) February 19, 2021
Honestly, I think they’d do it all over again. Not only that, but I think they’d be right to do it again.
Because here’s the thing: It worked. They identified Wentz, made the play to move up and get him and in his second year he was a legit MVP candidate and the Eagles won the Super Bowl. And to be clear: The Eagles do not win the Super Bowl without Wentz that year. He got them off to an 11-2 start and set the tone for that run.
That’s what makes this breakup so painful. It’s not like the Eagles just traded away some failed first-round pick; that happens plenty in the NFL. They traded away a first-round pick who was nearly the best player in football in his second season and was a top 10 quarterback for most of his time on the team. The draft pick worked … and then it all disintegrated.
What do you think are some positions the Eagles can make impactful additions to via FA? (ie 2016 with Brooks and McLeod)
— Em (@eighteenth_emjs) February 19, 2021
The Eagles aren’t going to have the money to pull off moves like that this year. Their cap situation is going to prevent them from spending big money. But I agree with you that those moves were two of the best free agent signings in recent Eagles history. The Eagles will have to go with more bargain-bin options this year.
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