Bad news, NFL — Eagles will be very good for a looooong time

Bad news, NFL — Eagles will be very good for a looooong time

Bad news, NFL. They're not going away.

The Eagles are here for the long haul, and the rest of the NFC East and the NFC and the entire league is going to have to reckon with this team for the foreseeable future.

The team that just won Super Bowl LII will return largely intact in 2018. And 2019. And to a great extent, 2020 as well.

You never know exactly what the future holds, but this team is built for the long haul.

They will probably lose Patrick Robinson this offseason, but the list of potential free agents is small. You'd love to have Trey Burton back, but that may be financially impossible. Nigel Bradham is a free agent and could walk.

But every offensive starter with the exception of part-time starting running back LeGarrette Blount is signed through next year and nine of them are signed through 2019. There will be decisions to make at running back with Blount and Jay Ajayi, who is up after next year, but Corey Clement, who looks like a budding star, isn't going anywhere until 2021 at the earliest.

The entire starting defensive line is intact through next year, with only Brandon Graham unsigned for 2019. Bradham is the only defensive starter unsigned in 2018 and only Graham, Jordan Hicks and Ronald Darby are unsigned in 2019.

Let's jump into the future.

The Eagles have these guys under contract for 2020: Alshon Jeffery, Mack Hollins, Zach Ertz, Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Jason Kelce, Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Timmy Jernigan, Derek Barnett, Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas.  

That's 2020. Three years from now!

Carson Wentz is under contract only through 2019, but the Eagles will take care of that at some point long before he hits free agency.

Look at the NFC East. Eli Manning is quarterbacking the Giants. He's 37 and hasn't won a playoff game since 2011. Alex Smith is quarterbacking the Redskins. He's 33 and has won one playoff game since 2012, and it was over a mediocre Texans team and he didn't even play that well. Dak Prescott is quarterbacking the Cowboys and he's never won a playoff game, and his decline from 2016 to 2017 certainly has to have the Cowboys wondering exactly what his future looks like.

Heck, the Eagles may have the top two quarterbacks in the division. And in Wentz and Nick Foles, they have two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in their 20s. What happens there remains to be seen, but at worst they have an elite quarterback to move forward with and another quarterback who has tremendous value as well.

More than anything, Jeff Lurie and Doug Pederson have turned this into an incredibly attractive destination. Talented players are going to want to come here and be part of this special thing they've built, and the Eagles' front office can be selective in who it signs.

When the Eagles do lose valuable players, they're in position to replace them. Joe Douglas has really solidified the talent evaluation aspect of the front office. His decision to bring Super Bowl winners into this locker room — Torrey Smith, Corey Graham, Chris Long, Blount — really made a difference not only helping the young guys prepare for Super Bowl week but also really helping forge the unselfish, team-first mentality that Pederson was building.

"In my mind, there's a huge window here," Smith said. "The team's still building. We lost a lot of players (to injury) and still won the Super Bowl. They're going to come back healthy, most of the guys who were part of this are coming back, and they're going to keep adding good players, too. This thing can keep on rolling."

Really, everything is in place.

An owner willing to spend, a scouting staff with an extraordinary knack for finding players that fit in both on the field and off, a general manager who's a master at juggling salary cap and contracts, a coach who's a brilliant motivator and play caller, a staff of first-rate teachers and a stable of talented players who want to stay here.

Thinking back to 2004, that never seemed sustainable. We all knew the Donovan McNabb-Terrell Owens dynamic was a ticking time bomb. There was no way T.O. was going to have a long run with the Eagles, and without him, that just wasn't an elite team. A good team but not an elite team.

This feels different.

This team was built to last, built to be sustainable, built to contend for Super Bowls every year for the foreseeable future.

The Eagles haven't won playoff games in consecutive seasons since 2003 and 2004. They've had sporadic success but since those first few Andy Reid seasons, they haven't been able to sustain any measure of success.

Now they can. Now they will.

This really feels like the start of something special. Not the end.

Trey Burton denies report questioning his Eagles future

AP Images

Trey Burton denies report questioning his Eagles future

Several hours after an NJ.com report surfaced that the Eagles were unlikely to re-sign Trey Burton, the tight end denied it on Twitter.

Replying to a tweet about the report from former Eagles teammate Emmanuel Acho, Burton said he hasn't spoken to anyone.

NJ.com's Matt Lombardo reported Friday that the Eagles made Burton an offer that the soon-to-be-free-agent "didn't consider serious."

"We are fully expecting Trey to sign elsewhere," the source said.

It wouldn't be surprising whatsoever if Burton leaves in free agency. A team will likely pay him starter's money and offer him a chance to start, which he doesn't have here with Zach Ertz firmly entrenched.

The Eagles are over the projected salary cap, and while they could create space in numerous ways, they also have to worry about re-signing key linebacker Nigel Bradham.

6 ways for Eagles to create cap space

6 ways for Eagles to create cap space

The Eagles are coming off a thrilling season but there's a lot of work to be done. 

The NFL's new league year begins on March 14 and the Eagles must be under the salary cap by then. The problem is that based on projections, the Eagles are set to be more than $9 million over the cap, according to OverTheCap. So it's time for some maneuvering. 

The good news is that Howie Roseman's specialty has always been finding unique ways to get the Eagles out of cap trouble. There are ways for him to do it again.

Cut Torrey Smith 
Probably the easiest one. Smith was a great teammate and a solid addition to the Eagles' locker room, and he really stepped up his game in the playoffs, but it's probably not enough to bring him back. He just wasn't good enough last season, and cutting him would save the Eagles $5 million in cap room with no dead money. The Birds still have Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor, while Mack Hollins is entering Year 2. 

Cut Brent Celek
This one will hurt, but Celek can take away the sting if he decides to walk away as a champion. He's set to have a cap number of $5 million. That's just way too much for what Celek provides these days. By cutting him, the Eagles would save $4 million in cap space. So just between Smith and Celek, the Eagles will almost get back to zero ... but there's other work to do. They'll still need money to sign free agents and draft picks. 

Extend Brandon Graham 
Graham is entering the final year of his contract with a cap number of $8 million. He wants a new contract and deserves one. Good news: An extension would work for both sides. Graham would get more money long term and the Eagles could get his cap number down this season. 

Rework/cut Vinny Curry
Curry is coming off of probably his best season in the NFL but will have an $11 million cap number. That's tough to swallow, especially with Derek Barnett waiting for his chance to start. It seems likely the Eagles will ask Curry to take a pay cut or rework his deal. If not, cutting him would leave $6 million in dead money but would also save $5 million in cap room. 

Trade Mychal Kendricks
If you remember, Kendricks actually wanted a trade last offseason. Good thing that didn't happen. Kendricks ended up being a big part of the Eagles' success in 2017. Depending on what happens with Nigel Bradham in free agency and with Jordan Hicks' Achilles recovery, trading Kendricks might again be an option. A trade would save $4.4 million in cap space. 

Trade Nick Foles 
This is such a tough one — we explore it more here. But basically, Foles is a pretty amazing insurance policy until we know when Carson Wentz is going to be ready. If the Eagles do trade Foles, it would save them $5.2 million that they could certainly use. The problem is that by the time they know Wentz's status, free agency will be long gone and that cap space won't help this year. But it could help in 2019.