A 3-6 record, a concussed punch drunk quarterback, and a lost season are what the Philadelphia Eagles have through their first nine games. They are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and almost certainly looking for a new head coach at season's end. It will be interesting to see how the team responds down the stretch as well as how the rookie Nick Foles performs, but lets put that aside for the moment. With Andy Reid likely out of the picture and more than a few big contracts on the books, what will the team look like going forward under the new regime? Much of these decisions will be based on the coaching philosophy of Andy Reid's successor, but we will break some of the decisions down based on performance and salary cap impact.
Michael Vick is under contract until 2016 with the Eagles. He is due to make over fifteen million just next season. The Vick experiment has failed in Philadelphia. His high price tag, propensity for turnovers, and injury issues make his future here unlikely. The Eagles have an opportunity to cut him before next season and get out of his contract with "only" a three million dollar hit. Pay the guy three million to walk away, or fifteen million to waste another season? Seems like an easy decision to make.
Nick Foles will get an opportunity to show his skills down the stretch this season. Foles performed okay against the Cowboys, but lets see what he can do with a full week of practice. The rookie was taken in the third round of the draft from the University of Arizona, so patience will be necessary for him to develop. The Eagles really need to learn if Foles is worth building around or if they need to explore other options in the offseason.
LeSean McCoy signed a six year, forty five million dollar deal that will go through the 2017 season. Shady will definitely be a key piece of the team moving forward.
DeSean Jackson just signed a five year, forty seven million dollar deal during the offseason. Despite his "diva" like antics, his speed and big play ability make him a unique talent in the NFL. It would be nice to see the Eagles find a more traditional number one receiver to take some of the pressure off of Jackson. Expect Jackson to be around for the 2013 campaign and beyond.
Brent Celek is under contract through 2016. His price tag is around the four million dollar a year range, which is about average for a starting tight end. Celek is a steady presence for the offense, but does not provide anything unique to the offense. He could be the odd man out depending on the offensive scheme next season. While he likely would not be cut next season, his role could be greatly reduced.
Demetress Bell signed a five year, thirty five million dollar deal that runs through 2016. This is insanely overpaying the offensive lineman for his lackluster play this season. Bell has struggled at both left and right tackle. He is not the answer moving forward and should not be part of the team moving forward. Cutting him would relieve some of the salary cap pressure the Eagles have. Got to love the NFL and their non-guaranteed contracts.
Jason Babin is playing out a five year, twenty seven million dollar contract that runs through 2015. Despite his lack of production this season, he should remain with the team at least one more year. For a pass rusher that has produced at the level Babin has, just over a five million a season is a bargain. Babin will be feeling the pressure as the 2012 season comes to an end. His play down the stretch will in large part determine his future for next season.
Trent Cole signed a monster six year, sixty million dollar contract last offseason. Cole has not lived up to it so far this season, but due to the money invested in Cole, the Eagles front office will likely have to give Cole a season or two more before considering cutting him. Often in the early years of these contracts, a chunk of the money is guaranteed making cutting an underperforming player not as viable an option.
DeMeco Ryans is playing under a five year, forty eight million dollar contract that goes through the 2015 season. This is not cheap for a middle linebacker, but Ryans has been one of the lone defenders who plays with a mean streak on the Eagles defense. Ryans has earned every penny of his contract and provides leadership for the defense. Expect him to be a crucial player in the team's future plans.
Nhamdi Asomugha is playing under a five year, sixty million dollar contract that runs through 2016. Nhamdi is one of the highest paid corners in the league, but has shown signs of age. His speed has decorated and he is not that same shut down elite corner that he once was. The Eagles cannot afford to pay an aging player that much money. Nhamdi will have to be cut or restructure his deal to remain with the Eagles. Due to DRC's contract issues (see below), expect the Eagles to aggressively pursue a contract restructuring and keep Nhamdi around for at least one more year at a reduced price.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is playing out the last year of his initial rookie contract. DRC is making just under two million dollars this year. Expect that number to increase significantly next year. DRC had a stellar training camp and start to the season. It was looking like he would command a top dollar free agent contract. Though lately his play and toughness have been suspect. DRC is much more a cover corner than a hard hitting one, which has drawn the attention and criticism of the media. Still his talent is elite, expect DRC to command a contract north of four years, sixty million dollars at the end of the year. Unfortunately it seems that DRC may be wearing a different uniform next year.
Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen are both playing under their rookie contracts for one more season. They are due to make just over half a million dollars each next season. The young safeties have shown flashes of talent, but neither has established themselves as an elite safety. The Eagles will likely give the guys one more year at such a low price, but at this point neither safety appears to be in the long term plans due to their limited potential.
That was just a few of the key players with interesting contract situations. Much more will be decided in these remaining seven games and once a new coach is hired.
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