The NFL’s new year started at 4 p.m. Wednesday, when all the transactions that had been reported in recent days could quickly become official.
DeSean Jackson was traded to the Eagles, Nick Foles signed with the Jaguars, Odell Beckham Jr. went from the Giants to the Browns, and Le’Veon Bell found a new home with the Jets.
But other than the Jackson trade and officially signing defensive tackle Malik Jackson, the Eagles did not add any new players Wednesday. They were conspicuously quiet, with no additions yet to their backfield. In fact, the trade of defensive end Michael Bennett to the Patriots was not even finalized; that should happen soon.
Perhaps the most newsworthy decision the Eagles made was not doing anything with Nelson Agholor.
Because Agholor remained on the roster, the $9.34 million salary on his fifth-year option became guaranteed. The Eagles could have cut him without incurring a salary cap charge or renegotiated his contract to try to open more salary cap space. But they’re instead going to keep him at that salary – a major commitment to Agholor that signals the investment the Eagles are willing to make at wide receiver.
Alshon Jeffery already counts $14.725 million against the salary cap this season, and the Eagles are giving DeSean Jackson a contract extension. (Jackson will be introduced at a news conference at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.)
The Eagles have money to allocate to wide receiver because it hasn’t yet gone to running backs. The biggest domino to fall came Tuesday night, when Bell reached agreement on a deal with the Jets, but the next best running backs signed elsewhere.
Mark Ingram reached a reported three-year, $15 million contract with Baltimore, and Tevin Coleman – a player who seemed to fit the Eagles’ profile – went to San Francisco on a reported two-year, $10 million contract.
The market isn’t flush with options for bona fide starters. Jacksonville’s T.J. Yeldon could benefit from a change of scenery and Kansas City’s Spencer Ware has a history with Doug Pederson. The Eagles can also look to the trade market, where Chicago’s Jordan Howard and Cleveland’s Duke Johnson both could reportedly be available.
Of course, the Eagles could try to keep Jay Ajayi and hope he returns to form after a torn ACL. But they haven’t signed him yet even though he’s been on the roster. The NFL Network reported Ajayi is visiting Indianapolis, where he would take a physical.
Ajayi isn’t even the Eagles’ top free agent. That’s Ronald Darby, who is among the best cornerbacks on the market. NFL Network reported Darby is visiting Kansas City, so he could strike a deal with the Chiefs if the visit is successful. The Chiefs opened up salary cap space by releasing five-time Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry.
The quarterback market thinned Wednesday when Tyrod Taylor signed with the Chargers, although it grew later in the night when the Jaguars released Blake Bortles.
The Jaguars made that move because Foles is now their starting quarterback. The former Super Bowl MVP, who released a heartfelt letter to Philadelphia on Wednesday on the Players Tribune, will be introduced to Jacksonville at a news conference Thursday.