Should the Eagles spend nearly $20 million per year in free agency to acquire a lockdown cornerback like Byron Jones, or do it for a playmaking wide receiver like Amari Cooper?
Great question. Important question. The only question, it seems.
Meanwhile, if the season started today, Marcus Epps and Rudy Ford would be the Eagles' starting safeties, either Duke Riley or Alex Singleton would be the third linebacker and Kyle Lauletta would be under center in the event Carson Wentz got hurt.
As you can see, corner and receiver are not the only glaring weaknesses that need to be addressed in free agency.
So I get a little nervous when I hear the Eagles will engage in a "bidding war" for Jones and the price tag could reach $17 million per year, even more so at the thought of the Eagles as a "potential landing spot" for Cooper at close to $20 million per year, as has been reported during the offseason.
Either move would be fine in a vacuum. Jones is a good-not-great cornerback, but looks like a fit on and off the field. Cooper possesses an elite-level skill set with the production to back it up. Both players are young enough that their best days might still be ahead. Free agents cost what they cost, and the Eagles traditionally have been experts at bending the salary cap to their will.
But there is a salary cap, even if it rarely seems to prevent the Eagles from signing the players they want, and as of this moment, either Jones or Cooper's potential average salary represent over half of the team's capital for 2020.
The Eagles are projected to be about $41 million under the cap, though estimates have the club spending $9 million just to sign their upcoming draft class, so it's more like $32 million.
Even if a contract for a Jones or Cooper is structured in such a way larger sums of money are due later, you're probably looking at something in the neighborhood of $10 million the first year.
Let's just call it $25 million left over after making a splash. That's $25 million to sign either a corner or receiver, whichever one still needs to be addressed, plus another corner because one may not be enough, at least one safety -- two if the club isn't going to restructure Malcolm Jenkins' deal -- a backup quarterback, a linebacker who can at least compete for playing time, maybe even an extra running back.
With 10 picks in the draft, maybe the Eagles can afford to overlook spending at one or two spots and roll with young guys. Or the plan is to count on inexpensive holdovers like Sidney Jones and Greg Ward to step up and fill key roles.
But is that really the best way to build a team?
Sure, if the Eagles go out and pay top dollar for a corner, they would be be filling one of their biggest holes -- albeit, not necessarily with a star player. And they can throw good money after that at a wide receiver, throwing money at a bona fide playmaker while running up a tab that's already approaching $30 million between Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson alone.
Yet, for all the cap voodoo I've seen the Eagles pull off over the years, I have a hard time believing they can make that type of move and fix everything else that needs fixing.
Corner and receiver aren't the only needs. Not even close. And if the Eagles approach free agency that way, they'll be hurting come September.
Then again, maybe they can't fix everything in one offseason anyway.
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