If you thought Fletcher Cox restructuring his contract meant the Eagles are preparing to trade for Le'Veon Bell, don't get your hopes up just yet. The money the organization saved is more likely to be used to extend players who are already on the roster, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
But who might that be on an underachieving team with a 2-3 record?
Glad you asked. Obviously, a new deal for Carson Wentz is around the corner, but NFL rules prohibit him from signing a new deal until 2019. The fact that the Eagles did this with Cox now strongly suggests the front office is already pursuing an extension with one or multiple of the following players:
DE Brandon Graham
With a lone sack and just three quarterback hits through five games, Graham is off to a quiet start in 2018. Barring a rapid turnaround, it's safe to say he's not getting paid like one of the top defensive players in the league with that level production and a 31st birthday coming up.
Yet Graham's five tackles for loss are good for the clubhouse lead, so he's active, while his work ethic and leadership are second to no one. This is the type of player smart teams try to keep and reward, even if he is a little past his prime. The real question might be whether Graham is willing to settle for the Eagles' best offer now, or is he betting on himself with free agency looming in March?
CB Ronald Darby
Fans may not be thrilled by Darby's inconsistent performance, but I'm not sure the Eagles see things the same. Coaches laud his work ethic, and you simply can't teach sub-4.4 speed — oh, and he turns only 25 in January.
It's true Darby has endured rough games during his brief Philly tenure. It's equally true some of his critics seem to want perfection. He's probably never going to be a shutdown corner or great tackler. However, he possesses shutdown tools, is more physical than he gets credit for and mostly does a nice job. Don't be shocked if the Eagles move to keep this impending free agent from reaching the market.
LB Jordan Hicks
For my money, Hicks is the most obvious candidate of the bunch. The 26-year-old is in the final year of his rookie contract and has shown no signs of slowing down after last season's ruptured Achilles tendon. Quite the contrary, in fact.
Hicks is on track for a career year — his 1.5 sacks are already a personal best — and he's currently ninth in the NFL with 32 tackles. Injuries shortened two of his first three seasons in the league, but he's a big-time playmaker when healthy. Not a chance in hell he's making it to free agency in March.
WR Nelson Agholor
Though Agholor is under contract for 2019, the Eagles probably aren't going to pay him $9.4 million next season. A standard long-term extension is probably in order — structured to lower the 25-year-old's base pay in '19 and 2020, while allowing him to earn the bigger money on the back end of the deal. That being said, it's unclear whether the Cox restructuring was necessary to accomplish this end.