We learned yesterday that the Eagles restructured Lane Johnson’s contract to save some cap room and now we know how much.
As expected, the Eagles simply converted base salary into bonus money, which is then prorated over the remaining length of his contract. They have done this before with plenty of players, including doing it with Johnson just last season too. By the way, Johnson doesn’t get paid any less; in fact, he just gets the money in his pocket a little sooner. Howie Roseman and VP of football administration Jake Rosenberg are good at this.
Here’s a look at what they save:
Update: this move actually creates $8.2M in cap space for 2019, while Jason Kelce’s extension creates $4M in cap space in 2019. Philly creating flexibility in advance of free agency.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 6, 2019
We also found out there that the Kelce extension will save $4 million in space, so just between these two moves, the Eagles have saved over $12 million. And that comes after they decided to not pick up Tim Jernigan’s option, a move that will save $7 million. So we’re talking about $19 million saved (well, a little less when you figure three other players move into the top 51 counted salaries) over the last week.
The most recent estimation on OverTheCap has the Eagles with $18.8 million in cap space as of Wednesday morning. It looks like that includes Johnson’s restructure but not Kelce’s savings. So that pushes them over $20 million. But we still have to factor in Brandon Graham’s deal. It’s a three-year deal, so it might be slightly back-loaded (haven’t seen it yet). Either way, the Eagles will have some room to work with when the new league year begins on March 13.
The Eagles aren’t necessarily done creating cap space. They have more ways to do so and have some big decisions looming.
• Jason Peters is set to have a cap hit of over $13 million. They could cut him and save $10.5 million of cap space or they can try to restructure his deal. The problem with cutting him — as we’ve now mentioned about a million times — is they wouldn’t have a clear-cut replacement.
• Nelson Agholor is set to have a $9.4 million cap hit if he plays on that fifth-year option season. That money is non-guaranteed now but becomes guaranteed on March 13. I have been pretty consistent with my thoughts on Agholor: I’d sign him to a long-term deal and alleviate some of that cap hit in 2019, but the Eagles were reportedly “open” to trading him.
• With the Achilles injury to Brandon Brooks, the Eagles might be more inclined to keep Stefen Wisniewski around for 2019. If they were to cut Wiz, they’d save $3 million, but I wouldn’t make that move unless they’re 100 percent sure Brooks will be ready for Week 1.
• Michael Bennett is another question mark. He is set to have a cap hit of $7.2 million in 2019 and the Eagles were reportedly talking about possible trades with him. This happened at combine week, when they re-signed Graham.
• Another candidate for a restructure like Johnson is Alshon Jeffery. Not sure if the Eagles want to do this or not, but it would make sense. He has a cap hit of $14.7 million in 2019 and a base salary of $11.75. They could reduce his hit a ton by converting some of his base into bonus. Teams can really only do this for select players they know will be here for the duration of their deals. Otherwise, they’re leaving dead money after the player is gone.
What’s the money for?
So, now the Eagles have some cap space. That’s a good thing, but how are they planning on using it? Well, they certainly have enough money to make a splash in free agency and Roseman said just last week that they want to be aggressive in everything they do.
But he also talked about the way they want to build their team. He said the Eagles want to sign their own good players to top-of-the-market deals and supplement that with free agency.
And he also talked about the benefit of going after second-tier free agents, like when they signed Brandon Brooks and Rodney McLeod. Roseman clearly sees the benefit in going after players who aren’t the most coveted. They could make a big splash with a Le’Veon Bell type (and I’m not completely discounting that), but I’d look for them to make a few smaller moves to round out the roster instead.
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