In the second of our 12-part offseason series examining the future of the Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro give their opinions on who will be and who won't be on the roster in 2017. We go alphabetically — Part 2 is Barwin to Brooks.
Cap hit: $8.35M
Roob: Not only is Barwin a massive force in the community, he’s also the only guy on the team I can talk music with. Who else am I going to hang out with at a War on Drugs gig? And he’s really been a terrific Eagle. A Pro Bowler a couple years ago, a tremendous locker room guy, durable, dependable, productive. All that said, Barwin will go, and that’s what makes this such a tough business. Barwin just does not fit in this 4-3 defense, and at 30 years old and with an $8.35 million cap figure, it doesn’t make sense to keep him when releasing him will create only $600,000 in dead money. Barwin has said he’s open to taking a pay cut, and if the Eagles and Barwin can make the numbers work, I’m fine with keeping him around as a rotational guy with a far lower cap figure. Maybe he would be more productive in a second year in this defense. But otherwise, this really seems to be one of those cases where you have to put your emotions aside and do what’s best long-term.
Dave: We’re starting off today with a tough one. One of the toughest names we’ll encounter throughout this 12-day journey. If the Eagles just decided to cut Barwin, they would save $7.75 million. That’s a ton of money, especially for a team that could desperately use any cap space it can find. Barwin, for his part, has repeatedly made it known that he’d be willing to take a pay cut to rejoin the Eagles next year. I’m just not sure it makes sense, even with a pay cut. The Eagles have Vinny Curry making a ton of money waiting to play, and Barwin could fit better in a different defense. It’s not often a mayor of a city goes to bat for a player. That’s how much Barwin means to the community. But it just doesn’t make football sense or business sense to keep him, which is a shame.
Cap hit: $4.25M
Roob: Bradham played fairly well this year, although his performance tailed off a bit in December. But he’s a guy you definitely want to keep around. Still young, contract not prohibitive. The only possible issue with Bradham is a potential NFL suspension following his two legal issues in Florida last year. But Bradham is solid at a position the Eagles have very little depth.
Dave: If you can look past Bradham’s “dumbass” off-the-field incidents in his first year with the Eagles, he played pretty well. No, he’s not a Pro Bowler, but at the price of his two-year deal, he was a pretty good value. He played 97 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps in 2016. He led the team in combined tackles with 102 and had two sacks. He has just one year left on his contract, so it might actually be time to think about extending him once his legal issues are cleared up.
Unrestricted free agent
Roob: Braman, an unrestricted free agent, is still a decent special teams player, although, at nearly 30 years old, not as productive as he once was. The problem is although he’s listed as a defensive end, he’s really not a defensive end except in a dire emergency. He really doesn't have a position. As a seven-year veteran, Braman’s minimum base salary would be fairly high next year — $900,000. If I were the Eagles, I’d replace Braman with a young outside linebacker — a late-round draft pick or undrafted rookie — who can play special teams at a high level but can also fill in on defense and is cheaper.
Dave: This is another tough one. Braman had a cap hit near $1 million in 2016, the last year of his contract. The big question here is, do the Eagles want to invest in an aging special teamer or try to replace him with someone younger and possibly cheaper? That said, Braman is a beast on special teams and the Eagles have put plenty of resources into their special teams units. I think they can figure something out.
Cap hit: $7.2M
Roob: As long as his stomach ailments are under control, Brooks isn’t going anywhere. He was solid in his first year as an Eagle ... when he was able to play. Hopefully, Brooks has put this all behind him, and he’s able to be there for his team at right guard for 16 games next year. Is Brooks worth $40 million over five years? Probably not. He’s above average, but not a superstar. But with that contract, he’ll be here at least through 2018.
Dave: When Brooks has been on the field, he’s been really good. The Eagles put a lot of money into improving their guard positions from a disastrous 2015 and Brooks looks like the real deal. According to ProFootballFocus, Brooks was the fourth-best offensive guard in football. He allowed just one sack and two quarterback hits all year.
Cap hit: $2.1M
Roob: Honestly, I still think Brooks is best as a special teamer with minimal responsibilities on defense. Jim Schwartz, who coached Brooks with the Bills, feels otherwise and believes Brooks can be a capable slot corner. So he’ll be here. I just would like to see the Eagles upgrade across the secondary. Including at the slot.
Dave: It’s easy to say get rid of all the corners and start over, but it’s not that easy to actually do. Brooks was actually having a pretty decent season before an injury ended his 2016 season early. If Nolan Carroll isn’t back, and if Leodis McKelvin gets cut (I think it’s likely), it would be smart for the Eagles to keep Brooks. He doesn’t cost a whole lot, and when he got hurt in 2016, it completely changed the defense because it forced Malcolm Jenkins into the slot.
Cap hit: $705K
Roob: His interception clinched the Eagles’ only real win the last month and a half of the season, but Brooks’ main role here will remain on special teams, and he’s very good. But then again, it’s not like the Eagles have a bunch of young safeties to develop, so maybe Brooks can find a bigger role given time to develop. Heck, he made one huge game-clinching play, and that's more than a lot of people on this team.
Dave: Brooks was once a third-round pick of the Ravens in 2014, so it’s probable that Joe Douglas had a role in drafting him. With the Eagles, he didn’t get to play defense for most of the year, relegated instead to a special teams role. He was very good in that role. With a full training camp, he’ll get to prove he can play on defense too.