The Eagles’ attempts to move Fletcher Cox ahead of Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline amounted to nothing more than a suggestive social media post from the defensive tackle.
“FOREVER PHILLY!!!!!!,” Cox wrote on Instagram.
His message came about 10 minutes before the 4 p.m. deadline and after there were reports that teams had been calling the Eagles about Cox’s availability.
But the Eagles were pursuing a trade, two NFL sources told The Inquirer, even though they stood to take a dead-money salary cap hit of approximately $37 million over the next two years. General manager Howie Roseman restructured Cox’s contract two months ago, converting most of his 2021 base salary into a guaranteed roster bonus.
The Eagles did make a move just before deadline. They acquired defensive back Kary Vincent Jr. from the Denver Broncos for a 2022 sixth-round draft pick. They released offensive lineman Brett Toth to clear a spot on the 53-man roster.
In just the last two months, the Eagles have added three rookie defensive backs. Cornerback Mac McCain was signed off Denver’s practice squad in September and cornerback Tay Gowan came from the Cardinals via the Zach Ertz trade two weeks ago.
Cox, who turns 31 in December, has been unhappy about his role in new Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s scheme. He has publicly questioned its usage and how it hasn’t played to his aggressive strengths. Cox has just one sack in the first eight games this season.
Gannon hasn’t publicly rebuked the team captain, and in Sunday’s 44-6 win over the Lions, called maybe his most aggressive game. The Eagles notched six sacks, and while Cox didn’t record one, he did have a couple of pressures.
Cox’s apparent regression began before Gannon and new coach Nick Sirianni arrived. His numbers had declined, but he had also lacked the consistent dominance that made him one of the best interior linemen in the NFL.
Team sources also cited Roseman’s favoritism of Cox for his influence in the hiring and firing of several defensive-line coaches. There had been increasing concern in the organization that the six-time Pro Bowler wouldn’t take the necessary steps to remain a force as he enters his 30s.
Cox’s dead-money hit — Roseman has spread his original $100 million contract into future years three times — made a move highly unlikely because of the dead-money hit.
The Eagles could have been willing to take on additional cost to move Cox in exchange for a significant draft pick in return. The Broncos did something similar with defensive end Von Miller in their trade with the Los Angeles Rams that netted them second- and third-round picks.
But Cox seemingly doesn’t have the value Miller still had on the market, and the Eagles’ efforts to move him ended when it was clear no team was willing to meet their demands.