Philadelphia Eagles Cap Space

Fixing The Philadelphia Eagles Defense In Free Agency

Fixing the Eagles defense is going to be a challenge for Howie Roseman & Nick Sirianni.  As of Feb 27, 2024, the Eagles had $27.5m in available cap space. That is not much when it comes to signing free agents, but there is always some accounting magic that can happen in the NFL.  So after looking at how much cap space the Eagles can create and who they would need to cut to do it, we can then look at the free agents available and create a list of free agents to target on the defensive side of the ball.

Philadelphia Eagles Cap Space & Cutting Players

Roseman gets a lot of credit for his trades and cap management, but it is a bit of kicking the can down the road with the Eagles.  Roseman has made some questionable decisions in recent years regarding loyal veterans and their salaries which while keeping the Eagles competitive, has resulted in them having limited options when it come to creating cap space through cuts.

Look, if I am Roseman, I am doing the same thing.  When he gets fired, and they all do, who cares how much dead money you left the franchise and the next guy.  And the best way to not get fired is to keep winning.  And the best way to keep winning is to keep kicking the dead money down the road.

So let’s start there with potential cuts in order to free up more cap space.  There are not many and I will list them in the order that in my opnion makes the most sense.  The Eagles would have to make all these cuts POST JUNE 1st cuts to achieve any cap savings.

Philadelphia Eagles Cap Space
Philadelphia Eagles Cap Space

Philadelphia Eagles Cap Cut Candidates

  1. Kevin Byard – CAP SPACE $14m  DEAD MONEY $346k
    This is a no brainer.  Byard simply is not worth $14m as the twenty-something ranked safety in the NFL.  If anything the Eagles defense got worse after his arrival.  This is almost an automatic move for Roseman.  You can always negotiate with his agent on a lower number to return, but he can’t stay for $14m.
  2. Hasson Reddick – CAP SPACE $16m  DEAD MONEY – $5.87m
    The Eagles said Reddick was free to seek a trade BEFORE Reddick asked to seek a trade.  At least according to Reddick who seemed surprised by his own trade request.  If this isn’t writing on the wall, in ten foot high letters, in permenent blood red ink, I am not sure what is.  The $6m in dead money isn’t great, but honestly it’s like tip money compared to the amount of dead money the Eagles have been, and will carry for years.
  3. Avonte Maddox – CAP SPACE $7.1m  DEAD MONEY 2.56m
    We are already into the, yes we can get cap space but can we find someone comparable for the same money type guys with Maddox.  He’s a good slot CB.  Not great, but above average.  Personally I would let him go, but I also saw Eli Ricks play in 2023 and I don’t want to see much more of him in 2024, let alone as a starter.  Ringo I have a bit more hope for.  Sydney Brown is a safety and shouldn’t play corner.  If Maddox goes, the CB room is really looking barren.
  4. Josh Sweat – CAP SPACE $4.3m  DEAD MONEY $4.77m
    This is a move I wouldn’t do as I like Sweat and $4.3m is not a lot for the production he provides.  The Dead money hit being more than the cap savings is like the NFL version of the NYSE cross of death.  Riddick has to go, so you need bodies at DE and Sweat provides a decent one at a fair price.
  5. Milton Williams – CAP SPACE $3.1m  DEAD MONEY $269k
    Another move I wouldn’t do, but at least the cost of this move isn’t as steep as the same move on Sweat would be.  The Eagles have Davis & Carter inside who are both young.  The Eagles can afford to weaken DT more than DE.

Philadelphia Eagles Cap Cut Immunity

  1. Jordan Mailata – CAP SPACE $4.6m DEAD MONEY $6.1m
    No chance.
  2. Landon Dickerson – $4.89m DEAD MONEY $913k
    Dare I say, less chance.  Financially it is better than Mailata, but Dickerson is a stud and younger.
  3. Josh Elliot – CAP SPACE $4.7m  DEAD MONEY $1.48m
    I put him on the immunity list.  He is money.  There is almost no chance the Eagles could find a kicker as good or better in 2024.  But it is a lot of money for a kicker and the Eagles eat dead money for breakfast so that wouldn’t stop them.  If he didn’t kick 61 yard field goals in high winds like it’s Wednesday afternoon at Novacare he would be on shakier ground, but I think he is safe.

That’s it.  That’s all the cap moves worth more than $1m or so that the Eagles have to choose from.  So let’s take the safest route and cut Byard & Reddick and keep the rest for now giving the Eagles and extra $25m – $30m in cap space.  That gives them somewhere between $50m – $60m to play with.

Now we aren’t going to find an entirely new defense with that kind of money.  We also can’t spend it all on one super stud free agent.  So let’s take the best free agents from each defensive position off the table.  Here is the list of Unaffordable Free Agents:

Unaffordable Free Agents

  1. Chris Jones -DT
  2. Danielle Hunter -DE
  3. Josh Allen -DE
  4. Brian Burns – DE
  5. Jonathon Greennard -DE
  6. Christian Wilkens – DT
  7. Justin Madubuike – DT
  8. L’Jarius Sneed – CB
  9. Jaylon Johnson – CB
  10. Kendall Fuller – CB
  11. Antoine Winfield – S
  12. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson – S

Philadelphia Eagles Free Agent Targets

In this section I will be referencing ratings the Defensive Player Ratings post.  This was a statistical study that awarded points for most major defensive statistics from 2023.  The list of 9 players contains 4 LBs, 3 Safeties, 2 CBs.  I am going to include the player’s Spotrac value as a guide for contract cost. NOTE – Bill Barnwell just released his LB free agent list, so the Barnwell contract cost estimate is added to the LBs listed below.

The Eagles need at least 2 LBs, 1 safety, & 1 CB to shore up the defense. I am not sure they could afford 2 of the LBs on the list along with a safety and CB(and the other needs of the team), so one of the four listed would be considered a win. My Roseman Scorecard for this is based on how many of these guys he signs:

  • Sign 1, OK with it
  • Sign 2, Delighted
  • Sign 3+, Dreamland
  1. Xavier McKinney – S Spotrac $10.5m
    The defensive ratings had McKinney as the 6th best safety last year behind Winfield who dominated the safety rankings.  McKinney had 3 INT and 11 passes defended in 2023 to go with 116 combined tackles.  He is also a year younger than Winfield at 25 so the Eagles could get 5 good years out of him.
  2. Kenny Moore – CB Spotrac $10m
    Moore was the #1 ranked CB in the defensive ratings for 2023.  Moore had 3 INT 6 passes defended to go along with a healthy 93 tackles from CB. His age works against him, but it is rare for younger CBs to get to free agency.  I hate to say it, but I think Bradberry was the same age when the Eagles signed him.  You would hope Moore wouldn’t fall off a cliff as Bradberry’s play did in 2023.  This is a stop gap move for 2-3 years, but by then the Eagles should have drafted and/or developed a CB or two.
  3. Frankie Luvu – LB Spotrac $11.25m Barnwell $8m-$10m
    Luvu was the 22nd ranked linebacker in the defensive ratings.  Luvu had 5.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 11 QB hits, & 125 tackles.  The Eagles LB play in 2023 was close to pitiful.  Roseman really skimps at LB and it bit him in the butt last year.  SO let’s start the restock with Luvu who I think might get lost in the LB free agent shuffle.
  4. Azeez Al-Shaair – LB Spotrac $10m Barnwell $3m-$5m
    Al-Shaair was ranked 16th in the defensive rankings for LBs.  Al-Shaair had 2 sacks, 9TFL, 6 QBH, & 163 tackles.  If the Eagles signed Al-Shaair instead of Luvu, I would have no qualms.  This is another guy who could get lost among the most notable, or well known, LB names that will be available.
  5. Patrick Queen – LB Spotrac $18.5m Barnwell $16m-$18m
    Queen was ranked 15th in the linebacker list for 2023.  Queen had 3.5 sacks, 9 TFL, 6QBH, & 133 tackles.  Queen has the tendency to free lance and forget, or disregard, assignments, but it is because he has tremendous athletic ability and can think about making plays other LBs can’t.  Sometimes it gets him and the defense in trouble, and other times in turn into a big play for the defense.  Unfortunately, I think because he comes out of Baltimore, he is going to be pricey and have plenty of suitors.  The Eagles may benefit from this if it frees up Luvu or Al-Shaaiz for a lower price.
  6. Jordyn Brooks – Spotrac LB $11.3m Barnwell $8m-$10m
    Brooks was the 27th rated linebacker from the defensive ratings.  Brooks posted 4.5 sacks, 8 TFL, 5QBH, & 11 tackles.  Brooks is the last free agent LB of significant note that I think the Eagles should pursue.  I wouldn’t make Brooks the primary LB target, but if the Eagles could scoop him up at a friendly price, he would be a significant upgrade to what they have now.
  7. Kamren Curl – S Spotrac $14.4m
    Curl was rated the 15th best safety by the defensive rankings.  Curl had 1 sack, 3 TFL, 3 QBH & 111 tackles.  If McKinney isn’t available or simply costs too much, Curl would be a good second option.  Blankenship grades out pretty well in the rankings(11th ranked safety), so if he can stay healthy and you can pair him with Curl or Duggar(see below), the Eagles safety position would go from weakness to at least average if not above average.
  8. Kyle Duggar – S Spotrac $16.5m
    Duggar was ranked as the 10th best safety by our metric.  Duggar had 1.5 sacks, 6 TFL, 5 QBH, 2 INTs, & 106 tackles.  I would take Duggar or Curl if I were Roseman, but I think Curl is going to be a bit cheaper and they are quite similar.  I would give the edge to Duggar in production, but it would be slight.  If Duggar and Curl exactly the same, I probably would go with Duggar, but if Curl ends up being cheaper, he might be the better option.
  9. Keisean Nixon – Slot CB Spotrac $3m
    Nixon was ranked the 22nd best CB by the defensive rankings. Primarily a slot guy, Nixon posted 1/2 a sack, 3 TFL, 1 QBH, 1 INT.  The Eagles slot corner issues after Maddox went down were glaring, so whether Maddox stays or goes, the Eagles need to have at least 2 CBs that can play effectively against opposing slot receivers.

Adding a couple of these guys to the Eagles defense would go a long way to restoring the effectiveness of it.  The one wild card is Vic Fangio.  I am sure he has a list of guys he wants/likes, and I don’t have access to that list.  If none of these guys are on Fangio’s list, then I really don’t think the Eagles would sign guys he didn’t want, or at least sign off on.

Regardless of whether it is the players on this list or Fangio’s list, the Eagles need to use free agency to patch holes in their leaky defense.  They can use the draft to freshen up the offense at RB, and OL, but they need some experience and talent that can be plug and play in 2024.  With some shrewd signings and a few cuts, the Eagles defense can be retooled and ravamped for the 2024 season without breaking the bank.