The Eagles are getting salary cap help. Just not quite as much as they expected.
The NFL Players Association announced the official 2017 salary-cap carryover figures on Wednesday, and the Eagles will receive $7,933,869 in extra cap space this coming year on top of the unadjusted salary cap figure that every team begins the offseason with.
The NFL’s official 2017 salary cap figure hasn’t yet been announced, but it’s expected to be somewhere in the $166 to $170 million range, up from a record-$155.3 million in 2016.
Under terms of the CBA, teams can receive credit in each year’s salary cap for cap space that went unused the previous season. This creates an adjusted cap figure that can vary by tens of millions of dollars per team.
The Eagles under former team president Joe Banner were the first to use this once-obscure technique in the late 1990s. Today, every team uses it to some extent.
The more carryover money a team gets, the more it has to spend relative to the combined cap figures of players under contract the coming year.
The NFLPA originally estimated in the fall that the Eagles would receive $8.25 million in carryover money, so the new figure is about $316,000 less than originally expected.
It’s also the ninth-highest of the 32 teams, although below the average of $9.18 million. That’s because the top few carryover figures are so much ridiculously higher than the average (Browns $50.1 million, 49ers $38.7 million, Titans $24.0 million).
According to salary cap data tracker Spotrac, the Eagles have 52 players under contract for 2017 with a total combined cap figure of $158,040,710.
With an $168 million unadjusted cap, the Eagles would have an adjusted cap figure of $175,933,869.
They have $7,055,933 in dead money, mainly from trading Sam Bradford ($5.5 million) and Eric Rowe ($904,496) but also from departed players such as Andrew Gardner ($250,000), Josh Huff ($138,986) and Blake Countess ($98,678).
Subtract the 2017 contract obligations – the $158,040,710 figure – along with the dead money – the $7,055,033 figure – and that leaves the Eagles with roughly $10.84 million in cap space.
That figure may not include some 2016 bonuses that have not yet been made public. And it doesn’t include, for example, a $500,000 pay raise Peters got by triggering a contract escalator.
So that reduces the $10.84 million figure to $10.34 million.
From there, about $4 ½ million or so will go to the 2017 rookie pool.
So that leaves the Eagles currently with somewhere in the ballpark of $6 million in cap space.
Now, the Eagles will obviously be able to increase that number by releasing players.
They would more than double their cap space just by releasing Connor Barwin, who has a $8.35 million cap number but would cost only $600,000 in dead money for a cap savings of $7.75 million.
Jason Peters ($9.2 million), Jason Kelce ($3.8 million), Ryan Mathews ($4 million), Leodis McKelvin ($3.2 million) and Mychal Kendricks ($1.8 million) would also clear large amounts of cap space.
So for example by releasing Barwin, Kelce, McKelvin and Mathews, they would increase their cap space by a whopping $18.75 million.
Of course, then the Eagles have to think about replacing those players with cheaper versions while still trying to build a playoff roster.
Whatever happens, the Eagles are in a unique position as they enter the 2017 offseason, with far less cap flexibility than other years.
“Yeah, it's unusual, certainly since I've been here, to have a more challenging situation,” vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said earlier this month.
“But part of our job in the front office is to look at this over a long period of time. So as we sit here today, it isn't like the first time that we are looking at that situation, and we'll do whatever's best for the football team.”