Thanks to the nearly $8 million of salary cap carryover from the 2016 season, the Eagles have just under $11 million in salary cap room to work with this season. Among that, about $4.5 million needs to go to rookies in 2017.
So the Eagles might need to get creative.
“Yeah, it's unusual, certainly since I've been here, to have a more challenging situation,” vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said after the season ended in January. “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.”
What's best for the football team this offseason might be to release some veterans with big contracts in order to free up some cap space.
Here's a look at five guys who cutting would save the team $28.45 million in cap space. The list goes from most likely to least likely:
To me, this one is a no-brainer. Mathews is 29 and will turn 30 during the 2017 season and is now coming back from a significant neck injury he suffered late this season. When healthy in Philly, Mathews was actually a good running back, but he had trouble staying healthy, which has been a problem throughout his career.
Looking at the money, Mathews is set to have a $5 million cap hit in 2017, the final year of the three-year deal he signed with the Eagles before the 2015 season. The Eagles would save his entire base salary ($4 million) by cutting him.
The Eagles will need to find someone to replace Mathews as their bell cow back, but that's exactly what they should do.
Barwin, 30, has said he's willing to take a pay cut to remain with the Eagles, but it would probably have to be a really big pay cut. He just wasn't productive enough in the new defense and still seems like a better fit in a 3-4 defense.
It's a shame that the team will probably part with Barwin, because he's a great guy who does a ton of incredible charity work within the city. But football is a business and the numbers dictate a lot of moves. Barwin is set to have a cap hit of $8.35 million in 2017 and the Eagles can save $7.75 million by cutting him.
McKelvin's first season with the Eagles didn't go as well as anyone would have hoped. He suffered a hamstring injury early in the year and it never went away. And then his play wasn't great either. It was a season of ups and downs for the veteran but too often he was on the wrong side of a big play.
McKelvin, 31, is set to have a cap hit of $3.45 million in 2017 and the Eagles can save $3.2 million if they cut him.
The only chance is if Jim Schwartz really goes to bat for his player and the Eagles really think that hamstring was to blame for his subpar play.
Kelce, 29, is coming off his second-career Pro Bowl, but even he wouldn't try to convince anyone he had a Pro Bowl season. In fact, he said earlier in the year that he needed to play better or would become expendable.
While Kelce wasn't great in 2016, he wasn't terrible either and he probably played better than most people realize. If nothing else, he would be a constant for Carson Wentz as the quarterback enters his second NFL season.
Kelce is set to have a $6.2 million cap hit in 2017, which isn't awful. But the Eagles would save $3.8 million if they decided to cut him.
I don't think this one is happening, but it's at least worth talking about. At 35, Peters at left tackle and Lane Johnson at right tackle is still probably the best offensive line the Eagles can put together. But Peters is expensive. After hitting another Pro Bowl escalator in 2016, his 2017 salary cap number is $11.7 million, which means the Eagles would save $9.7 million if they cut him.
Nearly $10 million in cap savings would be a huge deal, but then they'd have to find a player to spend it on and they might not get as good a return than if they just stick with Peters.