You might have noticed that the Eagles haven’t signed any of their draft picks.
That’s at least partly because of their tight salary-cap situation. Overthecap.com has them sitting with just $3,726,254, virtually all of which would be needed to sign the nine players they drafted.
Earlier this offseason, the team designated wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and defensive tackle Malik Jackson as post-June 1 cuts. There’s a lengthy explanation of what that means, but all you really need to know is that doing it that way means that on June 2, the team’s cap space will more than double, with $4 million added from the Jeffery-Jackson moves.
This means they can sign the draftees with plenty of room to spare. It might even mean they can sign a free-agent cornerback to start opposite Darius Slay, though that might take a little more cap maneuvering, such as a trade or release of disaffected tight end Zach Ertz. June 1 comes into play with Ertz as well; trading or releasing him after that date increases the 2021 cap savings from a little less than $5 million to $8.5 million.
It’s worth noting that cap charges never just disappear; all this means is that the more than $7.69 million charge for amortized bonuses that will remain on the Eagles’ cap after Ertz is gone now gets spread over two years, instead of it all hitting the cap this year.
Ertz hasn’t been moved because general manager Howie Roseman doesn’t feel he has been offered enough for a healthy 30-year-old player who set the team receptions record with 116 in 2018. That remains the highest catch total in NFL history for a tight end. But Ertz went into last season deeply disappointed over Roseman’s reluctance to revisit his contract, then he and soulmate Carson Wentz suffered through terrible seasons. In Ertz’s case, there was speculation that age and mileage could be contributing factors.
Roseman didn’t seem to be looking at it that way on draft weekend, when he discussed why he hadn’t traded Ertz, who subsequently hasn’t taken part in organized team activities.
“This isn’t a guy in the twilight of his career. He’s a guy still in his prime,” Roseman said then. “A year ago at this time, everyone was talking about where he ranked with the top tight ends in the league.”
There has been speculation that the Eagles might gain another $1.69 million worth of room by trading offensive tackle Andre Dillard after June 1. This would be a strange move before training camp, given that Dillard has not yet been given a chance to compete with Jordan Mailata for Jason Peters’ old job at left tackle.
Dillard missed the 2020 season after suffering a biceps tendon tear in the preseason. If Dillard fails to beat out Mailata, a move before the season would seem likely. Dillard was the Eagles’ first-round pick in 2019 and was highly regarded by most draft analysts. Trading him before training camp would be a stark admission that the team’s evaluation was erroneous.
The Eagles, along with many other teams, have been mentioned as a trade destination for 32-year-old Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones. Jones has a $15.3 million base salary for 2021, so trading for him and signing the draftees would require more big roster moves. Jones might have to agree to a restructuring of his deal. It would be a big diversion of resources for a team in transition, though the Eagles could use a strong veteran presence in the wide receivers’ room.