Eagles thinking cap after productive offseason
Money spent on recent additions will likely mean Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks won't get contract extensions.
PHOENIX - The Eagles have just $8.6 million in salary-cap space following the recent head-spinning flurry of free-agent signings (Byron Maxwell, DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, Walter Thurmond) and trades (Sam Bradford, Kiko Alonso), according to numbers-crunching spotrac.com. But $5 million of that is earmarked for the rookie pool.
That means that, unless the Eagles restructure some other contracts, it isn't likely that defensive end Fletcher Cox and linebacker Mychal Kendricks will be receiving early contract extensions.
Cox and Kendricks both are entering the final year of the 4-year rookie deals they signed in 2012. Cox, the 12th pick in the 2012 draft, has a $1.8 million base this season. Kendricks, the 46th overall pick in that draft, is scheduled to earn $896,000.
If Howie Roseman still was the general manager, re-signing Cox and Kendricks to early extensions would have been a high priority. With Chip Kelly, not so much. He's more concerned with today than tomorrow.
One possible restructuring candidate is the Eagles' new quarterback, Sam Bradford, who is in the final year of his 6-year rookie contract. His base salary this year is just under $13 million, which also is his cap number.
But aside from creating a little more cap space, neither Bradford nor the Eagles really has a lot of reason to do a new deal right now.
Bradford is coming off back-to-back ACL injuries. And while Kelly may feel he's a better fit for his offense than Nick Foles, the Eagles coach is not going to offer the quarterback much in the way of guaranteed money until he proves he can stay healthy for more than a few months.
By the same token, Bradford and his agent, Tom Condon, have little reason to sign anything less than a blockbuster deal right now.
Before Bradford was traded, the Rams asked the 27-year-old quarterback to take a substantial pay cut. According to a league source, they wanted to reduce his 2015 base salary to $5 million. Bradford declined and the Rams quickly began shopping him around the league.
His $78 million rookie contract has set him up for life, so he doesn't need money. He can afford to roll the dice and see what happens next season. If he stays healthy and has a good season with the Eagles, he'll get a great contract, from either the Eagles or another team.
"I think Condon's thinking is, 'Sam, go knock it out of the park and we'll get an above-market deal,' '' an executive for an NFC team said. " 'Go play 16 games and have a top-10 year and the ball will be in our court.'
"He doesn't really need money. He got the last big rookie contract, so he's set. And he collected it all. So he's not in a situation where he has to worry about his next contract.
"The two downsides for him are: a) he gets hurt again; or b) he has a mediocre year. But I think in Chip's offense, it's hard for a quarterback to have a mediocre year. It's such a quarterback-friendly offense. If he stays healthy, he's going to put up good numbers. And if he puts up good numbers, he's going to get paid."
This and that
* While the trade of LeSean McCoy and the signings of DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews saved $5 million in cap space, the Eagles still have the second biggest percentage of cap space committed to the running back position in the league ($12.6 million). The only team with a bigger running back cap number is the Vikings ($16.8 million), thanks mainly to Adrian Peterson ($15.4 million).
A look at where the Eagles rank cap-wise at the other positions: offensive line, 4th ($30.0M); quarterback, 14th ($17.2M); wide receiver, 28th ($7.1M); tight end, 17th ($6.3M); defensive line, 30th ($9.1M); linebacker, 5th ($27.4M); cornerback, 11th ($17.1M); and safety, 18th ($8.4M).
* The total value of the contracts the Eagles have handed out in free agency so far is $117.2 million. That includes $53.5 million in guaranteed money. Just three teams have handed out more guaranteed money, according to spotrac.com: the New York Jets ($79.7M), Jacksonville ($77.0M) and Miami ($67.9M).
* An AFC team executive on Chip Kelly's offseason moves: "I like what he's done. I think every move he's made, there's been a [good] reason behind making the move. If I'm sitting in his shoes, I'm thinking, 'Hey, I went 10-6 with [Nick] Foles and [Mark] Sanchez. If I keep Foles and Sanchez again, I'm probably going to go 10-6 again. So how do I get better than 10-6?' If the linebacker [Kiko Alonso] stays healthy, it's a big upgrade [over DeMeco Ryans], and he's younger and cheaper. The combination of Murray and Mathews is a big upgrade over McCoy because you got two for the price of one. In reality, if both of them stay healthy, they're both No. 1 backs. But they don't have to be No. 1 backs. They can share the load. Letting [Jeremy] Maclin go, I'm OK with that. You can find wide receivers. If you take the elite wideouts — [Larry] Fitzgerald, [Calvin] Johnson, whoever you feel is in that elite group, and combine the record of those teams, some are playoff teams, but a lot aren't. So you can find receivers. Especially in his offense. He's looking for more of the Jordan Matthews types anyway.''
* ]Last week, Kelly twice referred to running back Darren Sproles as a "Swiss Army knife.'' He also called tight end Zach Ertz a "multiposition player for us.'' This suggests that he plans to be a little more creative in how he uses Sproles and Ertz this season. Sproles, who is one of the best pass-catching running backs in the league, had just 40 receptions last season. That was his fewest since 2008, his third season in the league. He was targeted only 62 times, his fewest since '09 (57). Look for Kelly to line him up in the slot more next season, something he rarely did last season.
* Kelly said running backs coach Duce Staley will be responsible for shuttling Murray and Mathews in and out during games, which Staley also did for the last two seasons. "I think he's one of the best running backs coaches out there,'' Kelly said last week. "To rely on him and his history as a player, he talked about playing with [Brian] Westbrook and [Correll] Buckhalter at the same time. And then when he had an opportunity to go to the Pittsburgh Steelers, it was him and Bus [Jerome Bettis] and Willie Parker.'' While that's sort of true, what Kelly failed to mention was that Staley hated being a part of the "three-headed monster'' with Westbrook and Buckhalter in 2003, when he got just 96 carries. He signed with the Steelers after the '03 season because they wanted to make him their workhorse back. For seven games in '04 he was, averaging 22 carries a game before suffering a hamstring injury. He would have just 79 more career rushing attempts.
* If Eagles fans are looking for a reason to like Sam Bradford, here's one: He loves hockey. Bradford played it as a kid growing up in Oklahoma City. Was coached by Mike McEwen, who played on three Stanley Cup championship teams with the New York Islanders in the early '80s. Bradford tried to coax his mother and father to move to Calgary so he could play hockey year-round. Bradford also is a scratch golfer and played on the same AAU basketball team with the Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin.
* There is a misconception among some people that Bradford is fast and will be a much more dangerous run threat on zone reads in Kelly's offense than Foles. Not quite. While Bradford is a little swifter than Foles, the same can be said for my 94-year-old walker-using mother-in-law. Bradford's not a runner, particularly after two ACL injuries. He has pretty good pocket mobility, but was seldom used as a runner in Oklahoma's spread offense, and had just 97 rushing attempts in 49 games (2.5 yards per carry) with the Rams. What he can do is get the ball out quickly and accurately.