We’re now eight days into the league year, and Alshon Jeffery is still an Eagle.
And with each passing day, the odds increase that Jeffery isn’t going anywhere.
When the past season ended, it seemed one of Howie Roseman’s priorities would be to find a way to unload the 30-year-old receiver, whose three-year stay in Philadelphia has been largely marked by poor production, injuries and questions about his relationship with Carson Wentz.
The problem was the $26 million in dead money the Eagles would absorb if they released the 30-year-old receiver compared to the $15.3965 million he would count against the cap if they kept him.
Then came the new CBA, which restored teams’ ability to divide dead money over two years. The amount of dead money the Eagles would have absorbed by releasing Jeffery decreased from $26.1 million to about $16.6 million, or only a little over $1 million more than if he stayed.
When the new CBA was approved, it really gave Roseman a significantly more palatable way to jettison Jeffery.
Yet here he is.
If the Eagles were going to release Jeffery, they likely would have done it by now.
It’s not Howie Roseman’s style to keep a guy on the roster that he plans to release. The Eagles, as they did with Nigel Bradham, will release a guy early if there are no cap implications as a courtesy to give him a head start on finding a new team.
Is Roseman still trying to trade Jeffery? Maybe. But very doubtful. Market value for a 30-year-old receiver who hasn’t had an 850-yard season since 2014 and is coming off a miserable 43-catch season and is perceived as difficult AND is only three months removed from a serious Lisfranc foot injury is just about zero.
So Roseman’s two choices are essentially:
1) Release Jeffery and have him count for $16 ½ million against the cap without even being here, or
2) Keep Jeffery and hope for the best.
Financially, it makes no sense to cut him, that’s obvious. Teams take on dead cap money all the time, but $16.6 million would be 7 percent of the Eagles’ entire 2020 salary cap tied up in one player who’s not even on the team.
Football-wise? If you’re paying him all this money anyway – over $11 million guaranteed in 2020, thanks to his 2019 restructure -- you might as well try to get something out of him. Jeffery plays a position where the Eagles are extremely thin — only DeSean Jackson, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward and some practice squad dudes are also under contract. There’s the draft. But who knows.
Jeffery has averaged 4.6 catches for 73 yards in five playoff games as an Eagle but only 4.2 catches for 54 yards in the regular season.
Jeffery’s foot injury, suffered Week 14 against the Giants on Dec. 9, complicates everything. That’s a serious injury and would likely sideline him well into the season.
So the only reason you would cut Jeffery is if you just don’t want him around your team.
Roseman and Doug Pederson have both insisted since the season ended that Jeffery isn’t a locker room problem and that he has a healthy relationship with Wentz.
“Alshon is a talented player and he loves being an Eagle and he loves this city,” Roseman said in January.
You never know with Roseman. He could have something up his sleeve.
But with each passing day, it grows more and more likely that Jeffery will be an Eagle in 2020. When or if he actually gets on the field is an entirely different question.
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