The Eagles have over $20 million in salary cap space and there are still high-priced free agents available who would help the team in 2020.
So they should sign one, right?
While that would certainly make sense in a vacuum, it’s too simplistic a way to look at the NFL salary cap. That was the message from Eagles VP of football administration Jake Rosenberg earlier this week on the Eagles’ team podcast, The Eagles Insider.
Here was Rosenberg’s outlook on the Eagles’ cap situation:
Our cap is good. I definitely would use caution when the only thing that you look at is what a team’s cap space is at a given moment in time and use that as a barometer for how active they can be this season or something like that. I would just say, the real approach would be to look at it over a multi-year period, probably, and the fact that you’re able to carry space from one year into the next really brings a limitation on being able to look at it in the one-moment-in-time type of thing.
Rosenberg gave credit to salary-cap based website OverTheCap for how hard it works to nail the nuances of the cap but also said those public sites aren’t privy to certain information NFL teams have and use to formulate their plans, which is true.
Here are two estimates for how much salary cap space the Eagles have right now:
The latest numbers from the NFLPA have the Eagles with $24,705,095 in available salary cap space. That number doesn’t include a reported restructured contract for Marquise Goodwin, but it also doesn’t include the Eagles’ 2020 draft class, which remains unsigned. So just know the Eagles have over $20 million in cap space right now.
The key point Rosenberg made was the importance that the Eagles approach the cap from a multi-year perspective. It’s important to remember that NFL teams roll over unused cap space from year to year. The Eagles rolled over $21,484,051 from 2019 into 2020 and will need to roll over a big chunk in 2021, when OTC projects them to be $50 million over the cap.
Rosenberg said the Eagles spent the last few seasons creating cap space with the goal of rolling it forward because they knew they might need it in 2020, which was supposed to be the final year under the old CBA.
In Howie Roseman’s office, he has lists hanging of players signed through future years. The Eagles already have several players signed through 2023 and 2024 and they even have Lane Johnson locked up through 2025. So their plan is based on a long-term approach, while also trying to remain competitive in each and every season.
In NFL circles, the Eagles are one of the most well-respected teams when it comes to cap management. Roseman is excellent at it and Rosenberg, who joined the team in 2012 after over a decade as a bond and commodities trader, is one of the most important people in the organization who you might not know.
One of the biggest changes in the Eagles’ salary cap landscape in recent years was the long-term contract extension for Carson Wentz. Going from having a QB on a rookie deal to one who has an average yearly salary of over $30 million per season inherently changes the roster construction.
But, as an example of how much planning goes into this, the Eagles were prepared for that moment early in Wentz’s career, Roseman once told me.
“I don’t know that it’s hampered us,” Rosenberg said. “I go back, we talked about the planning side of things. We had been planning for this for a long time, as far as Carson’s contract. We had planned from a negotiation standpoint and structure standpoint. But I think from team-building perspective, we were also planning for it and understood what it meant to have a quarterback on a market-adjusted deal rather than a rookie deal.”
When we talk about issues of salary cap management, there’s this idea that the Eagles and Roseman can simply manipulate things to make whatever they want work. But it’s not that easy. The Eagles’ ability to manage their salary cap is a product of not just ingenuity; it’s also a product of immense planning.
While you can ding the organization in other areas, cap management is one where they’re pretty darn good.
“That’s our job, to figure it out,” Rosenberg said. “Howie says that all the time, ‘figure it out.’ It’s not enough to just throw your hands up and say ‘oh, we have a problem here.’ No, what’s the solution? Let’s figure it out and let’s move on.”
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