Eagles

Eagles to face major 2015 salary cap decisions

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Eagles to face major 2015 salary cap decisions

Whether or not DeSean Jackson returns to the Eagles, one thing is certain.

The Eagles are going to have to make several difficult and most likely unpopular decisions in the next year to get under the 2015 salary cap.

Forget this year for a minute.

The Eagles are already in cap trouble next year.

The good news is that the cap is expected to increase by $7 million to $10 million next year, thanks to revenue from the new TV deal.

Although the actual figure won’t be announced until next winter, people who track this stuff believe the unadjusted cap will increase from $133 million in 2014 to about $142 million in 2015.

The Eagles currently have 51 players under contract in 2015, and their combined cap figure is $144,766,514.

Several members of that 2012 draft class will be eligible for contract extensions after the season, and there is no way the Eagles would risk losing Nick Foles, Brandon Boykin, Mychal Kendricks and Fletcher Cox through free agency after the 2015 season, so re-signing those four after 2014 will be imperative for the Eagles next winter.

Foles, if he comes anywhere close to his 2013 performance, will demand a massive contract. Boykin, if he repeats his six-interception breakout 2013 season, will also be due a commanding deal. Cox and Kendricks are fundamental building blocks of the Eagles’ young defense, and they will be due sizable, long-term, multi-million dollar deals as well.

So you see the predicament the Eagles are in. They’re already over the projected cap figure, they still have to re-sign at least four key players, and they’ll certainly need money available to go after some free agents a year from now and sign their 2015 draft picks.

Something has to give.

A look at the Eagles’ 2015 contracts shows that 13 players make up nearly half of that $144.77 million figure.

Those 13 players have a combined 2015 cap hit of $68,025,140, or 47 percent of the Eagles’ current 2015 total cap figure.

They are:

• $10.25 million … LeSean McCoy
• $10.025 million … Trent Cole
• $10 million … DeSean Jackson
• $7.55 million … Jason Peters
• $6.9 million … DeMeco Ryans
• $6.5 million … Cary Williams
• $5.5 million … Connor Barwin
• $4.8 million … Brent Celek
• $4 million … James Casey
• $4 million … Riley Cooper
• $4 million … Todd Herremans
• $4 million … Malcolm Jenkins

Safe to say that anybody on that list, other than McCoy and Peters, could become a cap casualty after this upcoming season.

The Eagles still have plenty of room under the 2014 cap, and they’ll probably carry over $10 million to $12 million in unused cap space to 2015, which would increase their adjusted cap figure to somewhere in the $155 million range.

But they’ll still have some decisions to make about the veterans listed above to get under the cap.

No team in the NFL currently has the 2015 salary cap commitments the Eagles do. In fact, no team is within $10 million of the Eagles.

Here are the top five current 2015 cap responsibilities in the NFL:

• $144,766,514 … Eagles
• $131,941,818 … Cardinals
• $129,786,728 … Dolphins
• $125,454,961 … Chiefs
• $123,585,579 … Saints

Any player the Eagles release or trade after the 2014 season would give the Eagles dead money in the cap if he got a signing bonus that is still being pro-rated. To determine the amount of dead money, you simply add the remaining pro-rated amounts. The longer the player is still under contract and the larger his initial signing bonus, the higher that number will be.

How much dead money would the Eagles incur releasing some of their higher-priced veterans after the upcoming season? Remember, the cap savings is a player’s projected cap number minus dead money:

• $4 million … DeSean Jackson
• $3.2 million … Riley Cooper
• $2.6125 million … DeMeco Ryans
• $2 million … Evan Mathis
• $1.8 million … Connor Barwin
• $1.7075 million … Brandon Graham
• $1.666668 million … Cary Williams
• $1.6 million … Trent Cole
• $2.4 million … Todd Herremans
• $0 … Brent Celek
• $0 … James Casey

So you see whose jobs are in jeopardy. But it’s always risky unloading a player with a high cap figure because now you have to replace him.

If the Eagles cut ties with, say, Trent Cole, DeMeco Ryans, Cary Williams, Brent Celek, Todd Herremans and James Casey in January, they would have a net gain of $37,970,832 in cap space, which is a lot.

But that raises a whole new set of challenges.

Casey didn’t contribute last year, but Cole has been the Eagles’ best pass rusher for the past decade, Ryans was the Eagles’ defensive MVP a year ago, Williams is one of the team’s emotional leaders and a physical corner, Celek has been one of the NFC’s most consistent receiving tight ends since 2007, and Herremans has been a steady starter since late in 2005.

Which leads us to why it’s so critical that the Eagles put together a third consecutive outstanding draft.

It’s easy to get rid of expensive players. It’s a lot harder to replace them with younger, cheaper versions who are just as talented.

Alshon Jeffery doesn't think much of facing old team

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Alshon Jeffery doesn't think much of facing old team

Alshon Jeffery will be going up against his former team this Sunday, but he isn’t interested in looking back. The Eagles' wideout is happy with where he’s at now, and there’s only one thing on his mind.

“It’s a regular game,” Jeffery said Tuesday. “We’re just trying to win.”

Jeffery spent the first five seasons of his NFL career with the Bears before signing a one-year contract with the Eagles in March. Needless to say, the change of scenery has been beneficial so far. Not only is he on pace for his most productive campaign since 2014, but the sixth-year veteran is likely headed to the playoffs for the first time as a pro.

The Bears may be second-guessing their decision to let a Pro Bowl-caliber receiver depart in free agency. For Jeffery, the move was a no-brainer.

“I’m here in Philly,” Jeffery said. “I’m happy with that. It was the best decision for me. I love it.”

At this point, the tough questions for Jeffery aren’t really about the Bears at all. That’s in the past, and he’s fine with leaving it there.

The real questions are about Jeffery’s future, specifically whether he’ll remain a member of the Eagles beyond 2017 after his current deal expires.

To which Jeffery replied, “I hope so.”

“I let my agent take care of that,” Jeffery said. “He and (Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman) do a great job. Whatever they have going, let them talk about that. I just play football.

“Philly is a great city, great town, everyone has welcomed me with open arms. I’m having a great time here.”

It’s easy to understand why Jeffery is enjoying himself.

For starters, Jeffery is beginning to pile up the numbers. Over the Eagles’ last three games, he has 12 receptions for 213 yards with four touchdowns.

Jeffery is heating up, and he’s getting on the same page with quarterback Carson Wentz. As for the Eagles, they like what they’ve seen all along.

“Even early on when the ball wasn't going to him as much, totally unselfish, hard-worker,” Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. “These things take time — the chemistry, the opportunities — and so the confidence level grows.”

Jeffery is up to 38 catches, 567 yards and six scores — plus a league-leading three two-point conversions — on the season. With six games remaining, a 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown season is not entirely out of range.

Then again, statistical milestones don’t seem to be what drives Jeffery.

“As long as we get the division and that ring, I don’t care what happens,” Jeffery said. “That’s all that matters. Winning a Super Bowl, that’s all that matters.”

The Eagles are 9-1 right now, with the NFC East all but locked up and a chance to do some damage in the playoffs come January. The Bears are 3-7 and had only one winning season during Jeffery’s tenure, as a rookie, and still managed to miss out on the postseason that year.

The ball is coming Jeffery’s way, and his team is winning. Most of all, the 27-year-old says he’s having fun, and his Eagles teammates are a big reason why.

Jeffery can be a man of few words, but really opened up about why joining the Eagles has been such a great experience.

“It’s the guys in the locker room,” Jeffery said. “Everyone makes you feel like you’re part of the family, and everyone is together.

“Everything else is a bonus. Being on the football field, having fun, that’s a bonus, but what’s most important is the locker room. You have to have the right guys in the locker room. Everyone has to be able to feel like they love one another. It’s a brotherhood.”

So, no, Jeffery is not going to get caught up in the hoopla over going against his old team. He admits he still has some friends in Chicago, and some trash talk “comes with the territory,” but his focus is solely on the Eagles’ season and the task at hand.

As long as Jeffery and the Eagles continue down their current road, the future — Sunday included — should take care of itself.

Former Eagles Dawkins, Owens named Hall of Fame semifinalists

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Former Eagles Dawkins, Owens named Hall of Fame semifinalists

Brian Dawkins and Terrell Owens are again one step closer to making it to the Hall of Fame.

Both former Eagles were named as two of 27 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 2018 class.

Their inclusion on the list Tuesday is not a surprise at all. Both were on the list of finalists last year, but did not make the 2017 class to the dismay of Eagles fans.

The 15 finalists will be announced during January and Hall of Fame voters will cast their votes for the inductees on Super Bowl Saturday.

This is Dawkins' second year of eligibility and Owens' third. Traditionally it has been difficult for safeties to make it into the Hall of Fame, which might have hurt Dawkins. Owens has likely been hurt by his abrasive personality. Both are very worthy candidates and have a shot to be inducted this year.

Joining them on the list of semifinalists are six who made it on their first years of eligibility: DB Ronde Barber, OG Steve Hutchinson, LB Ray Lewis, LB Brian Urlacher, WR Randy Moss and DL Richard Seymour.

The original list of 108 nominees was cut down to 27 semifinalists instead of 25 because of ties.

Here is the full list of semifinalists:

S Steve Atwater
CB/S Ronde Barber
OT Tony Boselli
WR Isaac Bruce
S LeRoy Butler
Coach Don Coryell
RB Roger Craig
S Brian Dawkins
G Alan Faneca
WR Torry Holt
OG Steve Hutchinson
OT Joe Jacoby
RB Edgerrin James
Coach Jimmy Johnson
CB Ty Law
LB Ray Lewis
FS John Lynch
C/G Kevin Mawae
LB Karl Mecklenburg
WR Randy Moss
DE Leslie O'Neal
WR Terrell Owens
DE Simeon Rice
DE/DT Richard Seymour
LB Brian Urlacher
CB Everson Walls
WR Hines Ward