Inside The Birds Podcast: Cap Crisis Prompts Mass Restructures
As the Eagles attempt to manage their ugly, unavoidable salary cap situation, restructures and free agency this offseason will be unlike any other year.
In the latest Inside the Birds podcast, Geoff Mosher and Adam Caplan break down the team’s cap and plans for free agency, which is set to get started with the arrival of the new league year next week.
Geoff Mosher: “The Jason Kelce restructure, I find this one to be kind of more interesting than the others, because I feel like we already knew the others were definitely going to be on the team this coming year. At the end of the year you and I talked about Jason and how he always kind of ponders retirement and what they’re going to do, and I’m pretty sure we felt that he wanted to come back. But then the number he was going to come back at was going to be a difficult decision for the Eagles. And what they’ve done is even more interesting than we would have imagined.”
Adam Caplain: “I had first heard three weeks ago that he was probably gonna play. I tried to hit on it as much as I could on our show, but you just have to see how this works because he was not going to play at $5.5 million. He did make the Pro Bowl, we could argue whether he should have made it or not, but if you grade the 32 starting centers, even at 34 [years old], if you just graded the 32 starting centers, he’s top five or top seven.
“So, it’s hard for Kelce to know that he made the Pro Bowl, by the way he was voted in he was not a replacement he actually earned it. He also earned that $500,000 incentive for making it. It’s hard for him not to want more. The Eagles didn’t have to do that but they’re like, ‘Listen, if you want more money we need to clear space here. We need to cut your cap number which is 8.4 million.’ So they’re gonna save a little bit out of the cap. I don’t have the final number, but it’ll be somewhere around $2 million out of the cap.”
Mosher: “The Eagles were once known as the smart franchise that knew just when to move on from a veteran who was 30 or 31, before it started to get too late. Jason Kelce is 33. Now he’s going to have money on the books this year next year, the year after, when I felt they had an opportunity to be able to replace him and get [Isaac] Seumalo in there, perhaps [Nate] Herbig, perhaps the draft. Now, they chose to bring him back, but how many times have we heard Howie Roseman say in the last two years, ‘I’m getting a little bit too sentimental with my older players, I have to learn and move on, cut the cord?’ Well, here was a case where he could have.”
Caplan: “Look they could have, but not gotten a cap relief. But here’s why I wouldn’t [move on], The guy is durable as hell, [he] hasn’t missed a game since 2014. He’s dependable whereas Lane Johnson has not played a full season since 2015. Brandon Brooks, we’ll get into him though he didn’t miss a game for three years but he missed playoff games he also tore his Achilles twice. There are other issues when you look at the other players, but this guy is so dependable.”
Caplan: “Brandon doesn’t have any guaranteed money left in his contract. They took his base salary and they converted a lot of it last year. Their last restructure with Brandon was at the end of the 2019 season, right before the calendar changed and they converted his $8.5 million to a guaranteed option bonus. And now you got to 2021, which is the last year of his deal, the $13 million is not guaranteed. Our friend Derrick Gunn reported that this was in the works but I’m fascinated to see how much of his base salary they convert. Do they take $8 million? 5 million? 10 million? All $13 million? Now, are they going to do the normal simple restructure by taking that base salary and converting it to a signing bonus, because he’s going to be on the roster anyway this year so converting it to a signing bonus doesn’t really matter because he is gonna be on the roster this season?”
Mosher: “Darius Slay before the restructure, he was on the books last year for like $6 million, this year for 7 million, which was a steal he’s gonna play at a $7 million cap number in 2021.”
Caplan: “It was a massive number this season. It’s $15.75 million. With restructure, they’ll lower it because his base salary is $12 million which is fully guaranteed by the way. So they’ll lower it but I’m fascinated to see how much they’re going to lower it by. I think the NFL Network report said they’re gonna save $9 million, which means that they’ll drop it somewhere around $3 million.”
Mosher: “So tell me what his cap number was before this restructure and was supposed to be for next year in 2022.”
Caplan: “Massive number. $19.75 million before the restructure.”
Derek Barnett’s Future
Mosher: “[The Eagles] are getting closer to being cap compliant but still have a little ways to go. We know that the biggest way for them to really resolve this issue going forward is to do something with Derek Barnett. And you got to believe that something can be worked out. What’s his cap number on the fifth year option, $10.051 million?”
Caplan: “His salary is his cap number, $10.051 million. They absolutely could shave off four to five million off of that easily and extend his contract. I was talking to someone from another team, this team called the Eagles at the trade deadline just to see if [Barnett] was available, and he was not. They liked Barnett, this one team just because they liked his athleticism. Not a great athlete, but they thought he could be a solid starter for the next five to six years. Not gonna be a Pro Bowler, below that. You and I outlined last summer that he has issues sometimes keeping his weight up for whatever reason. But they liked him, this guy explained to me recently that the guy is definitely a starter. He convinced me and explained this way that the Eagles should extend his contract. But I wouldn’t go crazy with the contract, I wouldn’t give him big money.”
Mosher: “What about Issac Seumalo, is there any way they get his restructured?
Caplan: “He would be perfect to do because he’s got a low base salary of just $4 million. His cap number is really manageable at $5.416 million, good football player out of the 2016 draft. Absolutely, if they were to restructure somebody or extend, I would do this in a heartbeat. He’s the perfect guy.”
– Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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