Eagles

Eagles make surprising trade for Pro Bowler Michael Bennett

Eagles make surprising trade for Pro Bowler Michael Bennett

As free agency rapidly approaches, Howie Roseman has already pulled off a major move. 

On Wednesday, the Eagles acquired veteran defensive end Michael Bennett in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks, a league source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. Bennett then did some confirming of his own

In the trade, the Eagles get Bennett and a seventh-round pick, while the Eagles give up a fifth-rounder and wide receiver Marcus Johnson, per ESPN. 

The trade won't become official until the new league year begins on March 14. 

Bennett, 32, has played nine seasons in the NFL and is coming off a year in which he picked up 8½ sacks. He'll turn 33 in November. 

Because of Vinny Curry's expensive contract, the future of the veteran Eagle has been in question over the last few weeks (more on him here). That future in Philadelphia looks much cloudier after the acquisition of Bennett. 

The Eagles obviously aren't anywhere near finished making moves. Before getting Bennett, they were set to be around $10 million over the salary cap. Bennett comes with three years left on his current contract. This year's base salary is just $1.65 million, but he also has a roster bonus of $4 million due to him, according to OverTheCap; both amounts will count against the Eagles' cap. The base salaries of his final two years of the contract are $6 million and $7.5 million.  

Basically, the Eagles are getting an upgrade in Bennett over Curry and it will cost them less. But there's still work to be done. 

Even if Curry is on his way out, as expected, Bennett will still help make the Eagles' defensive line group one of the most formidable in the entire league. The Eagles will add Bennett to a group that includes Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Tim Jernigan, Derek Barnett and Chris Long (see player reaction)

Since he was reinstated to his role of power, Roseman has stressed the importance of building along the team's offensive and defensive lines. The defensive line is extremely important to the way Jim Schwartz runs his defense. While Curry is likely gone and Beau Allen is likely to leave in free agency, the Eagles' defensive line is extremely impressive. 

Bennett has been a Pro Bowler in each of his last three seasons. During his nine-year career, he has 54 career sacks but has just one season with double-digit sacks. That came in 2015. Still, he's a really good player and his versatility is something the Eagles will like a lot and utilize.  

While Bennett's 8½ sacks in 2017 weren't eye-popping, he was extremely disruptive. He had 16 QB hits and 44 QB hurries in 2017, according to ProFootballFocus. To put that into perspective, Graham had four QB hits and 45 QB hurries and was the Eagles' best pass-rushing defensive end. Now the two will line up together with Cox and Jernigan. Not bad. 

Eagles hoping no-risk, high-reward veteran signings can rekindle past success

Eagles hoping no-risk, high-reward veteran signings can rekindle past success

When you’re in salary cap hell, you have to be creative when building a roster.

And one tactic Howie Roseman used when putting together the Eagles team that begins training camp Thursday is signing a handful of no-risk, high-reward guys.

Players trying to revive their careers. Players trying to reclaim past glory. Players running out of chances.

These are no-risk, high-reward guys. They could become contributors, but if it doesn’t work out? The Eagles can release them before the season with modest or no cap ramifications.

When you’re in salary cap hell, you can’t sign all the free agents you want. So you sign the free agents that you can. And you do that by signing players nobody else wants. Guys with no leverage.

One tool Roseman likes to use is the NFL’s minimum-salary benefit, which gives teams some salary cap relief when they sign veteran players to certain deals.

The minimum-salary benefit can be used only for veterans with at least four years of experience who sign one-year minimum-wage deals with combined bonuses equalling $90,000 or less. 

Here’s a look at four of these no-risk, high-reward players the Eagles added this offseason.

Markus Wheaton

The Eagles signed Wheaton to a one-year deal with a $790,000 base salary (sixth-year minimum) with a $45,000 signing bonus, a $45,000 workout bonus but a cap number of $720,000, thanks to the minimum-salary benefit.

If the Eagles release Wheaton before the season, he would count just $90,000 against the cap, the value of his two bonuses.

Wheaton is only 27 and should be in his prime but has done nearly nothing the last two seasons after two very good years.

In 2014 and 2015, he combined for 97 catches for 1,393 yards, seven touchdowns and a 14.4 average. He had seven catches of 40 yards or more during those two years. Pretty good production.

But the last two years, Wheaton had just seven catches for 102 yards and one TD for the Steelers and Bears.

If he’s healthy and can be even half the player he was in 2014 and 2015, he could really help as a fourth receiver.

Matt Jones

The Eagles signed Jones to a two-year, $1.51 million deal that includes base salaries of $705,000 this year and $805,000 next year with no bonus money, which means no dead cap money if he’s released.

Even though Jones’ deal is not subject to the minimum-salary benefit, his base salaries of $705,000 and $805,000 are minimum wage for a third-year veteran in 2018 and a fourth-year vet in 2019.

Jones was one of the NFL’s best running backs the first half of 2016. Through seven games, he had 460 yards and a 4.6 average with three TDs. In a mid-October win over the Eagles at FedEx Field, he ran for 135 yards, the most rushing yards against the Eagles the last two years.

But he hurt his knee and never got his job back, then was released before last season. He resurfaced with the Colts but had only five carries all year.

Jones is only 25 and is a good enough receiver that he caught 19 passes for 304 yards and a TD as a rookie reserve.

With LeGarrette Blount gone, Jay Ajayi on a pitch count because of chronic knee soreness, Corey Clement’s role still undefined and Darren Sproles likely to be limited on offense at 35 years old, Jones will have a chance to work his way into the mix.

And if it doesn’t work out? No cap hit.

Richard Rodgers

The Eagles signed Rodgers to a one-year, $880,000 contract that includes a $790,000 base salary, a $45,000 signing bonus, a $45,000 workout bonus and a $720,000 cap figure, courtesy of the minimum-salary benefit rule.

If the Eagles release him, he’ll count $245,000 in dead money, the amount of guaranteed money in his one-year deal.

As recently as 2015, Rodgers caught 58 passes for 510 yards and eight touchdowns, which ranked him 12th among all NFL tight ends in catches and fifth in TDs. But he dropped to 30 catches in 2016 and just 12 last year.

Rodgers is only 26 and should be in his prime, but he’s reached only 30 yards twice in his last 31 games.

With Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, the Eagles have a potent 1-2 punch, but if Rodgers can regain his form of 2015, it would give Doug Pederson even more options in a ridiculously talented array of skill players.

LaRoy Reynolds

The Eagles signed Reynolds to a one-year, $880,000 contract that includes a $790,000 base salary, a $90,000 roster bonus and a reduced $720,000 cap figure.

Because there’s nothing guaranteed in his contract, the Eagles would not absorb any dead money under the cap if they release him before the season.

Reynolds, now with his fourth team in four years, has played in 68 games with seven starts. He’s only 27 and is considered an above-average special teamer and adequate depth linebacker.

The Eagles have some big question marks at linebacker, with Paul Worrilow (Reynolds’ former teammate) out for the year, Mychal Kendricks now with the Browns, Nigel Bradham suspended for the opener and Jordan Hicks able to finish one of his first three seasons.

Reynolds will have a chance to work into that mix. If not? No harm done.

More on the Eagles

Eagle Eye: When does a contract negotiation become a problem?

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Eagle Eye: When does a contract negotiation become a problem?

In the latest edition of Eagle Eye, John Clark and Barrett Brooks are pumped for the start of training camp. Following MLB Commissioner's comments on Mike Trout's marketability, the guys discuss if it's on the player or the league to market an athlete? The Falcons said they will not give Julio Jones a new contract. At what point does a public contract negotiation become a distraction in the locker room?

1:00 - Guys are excited for the start of training camp.
4:45 - Is it on a player or a league to market an athlete?
11:00 - When does a Julio Jones contract situation become a locker room distraction?
18:00 - When money starts dividing a locker room.

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