No Relief: Brooks Injury Carries Major Cap Ramifications
Brandon Brooks' season-ending Achilles injury not only took an elite offensive linemen away from one of the league's best offensive lines but also created serious salary-cap headaches for the Eagles in 2020 and beyond. Many have asked if the Eagles will get cap relief for Brooks spending the 2020 season on Injured Reserve. The answer is unequivocally no. Even for an injury that didn't result from football, Brooks will still collect the money he's owed this year. There are no methods the Eagles can seek for financial relief.
(In 2021, coming off surgery to repair a torn Achilles, Eagles right guard Brandon Brooks will be 32 and carry a cap figure of more than $14 million.)
This same question was commonly asked last year about Washington quarterback Alex Smith, who spent all of his 2019 season recovering from a severe and gruesome broken leg injury from 2018. This story, posted by overthecap.com, outlines that the $15 million in guaranteed money remaining from Smith's extension would still count against Washington's cap in 2020 even though Smith spent the entire season on Injured Reserve. Complicating the picture for Howie Roseman is that $10.4 million of Brooks' 2021 salary became guaranteed just by Brooks being on the roster in March, per ITB's Adam Caplan, who explained this in a recent ITB podcast. That means Brooks, who'll be 32 in August of 2021 and coming off his second Achilles, will be almost impossible to cut or trade prior to the season without severe cap ramifications. The Eagles have to hope Brooks will return and play at a high enough level to warrant the $14.5 million in cap space he's expected to occupy.
Long for Birds?
Kyle Long's name has come up as a potential replacement for Brooks given Long's recent comments on Twitter that his retirement wasn't solely his decision. The Bears weren't going to pick up Long's option in 2020, thus making him a free agent.
Long, a three-time Pro Bowler and younger brother of former Eagles edge rusher Chris Long, has battled myriad injuries and played just 30 games over the past four seasons, a major reason why the Bears planned to move on. An NFC North personnel source described Long as a one-time genetic freak whose best athletic traits have been withered away from the constant injuries. The source also said Long never made the necessary fundamental and technique improvements to compensate when the injuries began to erode his athleticism.
"His level of play just wasn't very good last year," the source said. "He's not used to not being physically dominant as he was, so he struggled to adjust and become more fundamental. He knows what to do. He's smart enough. His level of play isn't terrible. it's just average. Just not what you were accustomed to." The Eagles would have to decide whether an "average" and injury prone Long would be a better option than their in-house candidates, and if the money it would take to lure Long out of retirement is worth spending. As an aside, the personnel source has also scouted the Eagles and said don't discount second-year lineman Nate Herbig edging Matt Pryor to replace Brooks at right guard. The source said Herbig, a Stanford product, stood out for the Eagles in last year's preseason and deservedly made the 53-man roster.
Doug Pederson was asked very specifically Wednesday morning in an interview with 94.1 WIP's Angelo Cataldi if the Eagles were done with the running back by committee approach after the breakout last year from Miles Sanders. Here's the question verbatim from Cataldi: "We're all speculating that it's going to be Miles Sanders as your main guy rather than a running back by committee. Are we speculating correctly on that?"
Here's how Pederson responded: "You're correct," the coach said. "Miles is our No. 1, he's the guy we drafted last year. He had a tremendous rookie season. He's ready to carry the load, but you need a second or third guy there to help that can help him." Cataldi specifically used the term "rather than a running back by committee," and Pederson told the longtime sports-talk host that he was correct in his assessment. Pederson acknowledged the importance of having good backups and mentioned Boston Scott, Corey Clement and the rookie free agents. He also made a veiled reference to the Eagles going after Carlos Hyde, who signed with the Seahawks. Pederson, like most coaches, will always get his backups involved, but this was another clear indication that Sanders will play the lead role in 2020 and have the predominant touches if he stays healthy. Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is a longtime Philadelphia Eagles and NFL reporter and co-host of Inside the Birds. Listen to the latest Inside the Birds podcast right here: