Reuben Frank

Eagles are getting older, and that's a growing concern

Eagles are getting older, and that's a growing concern

Taken individually, all the Eagles’ moves so far this offseason make sense. 

Taken as a whole, they raise concern whether the Eagles are getting too old. More specifically, whether Howie Roseman is committing too many dollars to guys on the back end of their careers.

Jason Peters got another year. He’s 37. Jason Kelce got another year and is now signed through 2021. He’s 31. Brandon Graham got a pretty big three-year deal. He turns 31 in a couple weeks.

DeSean Jackson got a sizable contract for a guy who’s 32. Andrew Sendejo is 31. Vinny Curry turns 31 this summer. 

I’ve got no problem with any of the moves taken apart from the others. But the analytics make it pretty clear that older guys are more likely to get hurt or see their production diminish dramatically. 

We saw it last year with guys like Peters, Darren Sproles, Haloti Ngata and Mike Wallace. 

Now, young guys get hurt too, but the older you are as a team, the more you’re at risk. And when those older guys have high cap figures, it makes it tough to function when they start missing time.

According to pro sports salary cap tracker Spotrac, the Eagles had the 17th-oldest team in 2017, when they won the Super Bowl, and the ninth-oldest team last year, when they advanced a round deep in the playoffs. 

Today — and obviously rosters are nowhere near settled — the Eagles have the fifth-oldest team in the NFL.

The Eagles’ nucleus is guys in that 28-to-32 range. Alshon Jeffery, Malcolm Jenkins, Kelce, Nigel Bradham, Fletcher Cox, Zach Ertz, Jackson, Graham, Malik Jackson. 

Who are their best players under 28? Carson Wentz is 26, Nelson Agholor is 25, their promising young defensive backs like Avonte Maddox, Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones are all in their early 20s. Derek Barnett is only 22. 

But there are question marks about every one of them.

This is why Roseman, Joe Douglas and Co. have to nail this draft and the next couple drafts. This is a roster that really needs an infusion of young talent. 

When this current group of veteran stars moves on, who takes over?

Roseman has had only three drafts since being returned to power, and he’s taken only six guys in the first three rounds. Of that group, Wentz is a certified Pro Bowler and a star, although he still needs to show he can stay healthy. 

And Dallas Goedert certainly seems like a stud. 

But the others — Barnett, Jones, Isaac Seumalo and Douglas — are works in progress.

The Eagles have found one Pro Bowl defensive player in their last 13 drafts, and that was Cox in 2012. 

Their draft record has been better on offense, but the Lane Johnson/Ertz draft is now six years old.

The Eagles aren’t in the danger zone. Not yet. But things change quickly in the NFL and teams that can’t keep up in terms of young talent inevitably fall by the wayside.

The Eagles have three of the first 57 picks in next month’s draft, and as of now they have their own picks in the first four rounds of the 2020 draft, plus two 5’s in addition to the compensatory picks they’re stockpiling.

So the opportunity is there to get younger. To get faster and more durable. To find the talent to remain a perennial contender for a deep postseason run.

Right now, the Eagles have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. I see them as a legit Super Bowl contender.

But in the next few years, the face of the Eagles will change dramatically. 

To remain competitive, to remain elite, they need stars to emerge once guys like Peters, Graham, Jenkins, Jackson and Kelce either move on, retire or experience a downturn in their productiveness.

All they have to do is find them.

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Eagle Eye Podcast: Eagles have had the best offseason in the NFC East

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Eagle Eye Podcast: Eagles have had the best offseason in the NFC East

On this edition of Eagle Eye, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro discuss the Andrew Sendejo signing. Is Howie Roseman's plan too focused on stockpiling compensatory picks? Are the Eagles getting too old?

The Eagles have had by far the best offseason in the NFC East. Also, what to look forward to during the owner's meetings next week.

2:00 - Eagles add Andrew Sendejo.
4:30 - Is Howie geared too much to cumulating compensatory picks?
6:30 - Are the Eagles getting too old?
13:30 - Projecting Jeffery/Jackson/Agholor's production this season.
24:30 - NFC East offseason as a whole.
34:30 - Questions to ask Jeff Lurie during the owner's meetings.

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DeSean Jackson’s 3-year deal includes manageable cap number in 2019

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DeSean Jackson’s 3-year deal includes manageable cap number in 2019

DeSean Jackson’s three-year contract with the Eagles is structured similarly to Malik Jackson’s deal, with an option bonus that alters the Year 2 base salary and two fake years that defer the cap hit, according to a league source familiar with the details of the contract.

Most importantly, it includes a manageable cap hit of just $3.164 million this year.

Because of the option bonus, Jackson’s deal can operate either as a two-year, $18 million contract or a three-year, $27 million deal.

The main component of the deal regardless of its duration is a $7.17 million signing bonus that Jackson receives now as part of $17 million in guaranteed money. 

There are also $400,000 roster bonuses each year from 2019 through 2021 payable as weekly $25,000 bonuses for each week he’s on the team. There are also $400,000 annual workout bonuses.

All the bonuses count against the cap except $100,000 of the 2019 roster bonus, which is considered not likely to be earned, since Jackson missed four games last year.

As a three-year deal, Jackson has base salaries of $1.03 million in 2019, $6.2 million in 2020 and $8.2 million in 2021, with cap figures of $3.164 million this year, $8.934 million next year and $10.934 million in 2021.

The contract includes a $2 million option bonus for 2021 that they would need to exercise in 2020. If they pay Jackson the bonus, it would remain a three-year contract and would add $500,000 in pro-rated bonus money per year starting in 2020.

If they decide not to pay the option bonus, the $2 million is added to Jackson’s 2020 base salary, increasing it from $6.2 million to $8.2 million.

In that event, his 2019 cap figure would remain $3.164 million, but his 2020 cap figure would increase $10.434, since it would include the entire option bonus as part of his new base salary.

In that case, Jackson would become an unrestricted free agent after the 2020 season.

This contract structure essentially protects the Eagles from having to release players and give them a chance to gain compensatory picks by making them unrestricted free agents.

But it also protects the player because in the event he doesn’t get the bonus, he still gets the money.

The two fake years at the end of the contract serve to defer the cap hit beyond this year.  

The signing bonus pro-rates to $1.434 million per year, so if this ends up being a two-year deal, it adds up to $4.302 million in dead money in 2021 — three years worth of pro-rated signing bonus — and if it’s a three-year deal, it adds up to $3.868 million in dead money in 2022 — two years worth of pro-rated signing bonus ($2.868 million) and two years of the pro-rated option bonus at $500,000 per year ($1 million).

Jackson, 32, enters his 11th NFL season with 589 catches for 10,261 yards and 53 touchdowns. His 17.4 yards-per-catch is highest in the NFL in the last 25 years, and his 24 touchdowns of 60 yards or more are most in NFL history.

After spending his first six seasons with the Eagles, he spent three with the Redskins and two with the Buccaneers before the Eagles traded for him last week and gave him this new contract.

Jackson had one year remaining on his contract with the Bucs paying him $10 million for 2019.

In the trio of Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Jackson, the Eagles are paying $22.16 million in base salary in 2019 with a combined cap hit of $27.27 million. 

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