The Philadelphia Eagles went 13-3 in the regular season, overcame a season-ending injury to their franchise quarterback and then won three postseason games in which they were underdogs.
As a result, Philadelphia claimed its first Super Bowl in franchise history and its first league championship since 1960.
But in order to win another title, they’ll have an uphill battle that goes beyond having the final pick in each round of the upcoming draft. In addition to their draft slot, the Eagles are already over next season’s salary cap with just the contracts they already have on the books.
OverTheCap.com projects the Eagles to be $9.28 million over the salary cap, which means they may have to release some higher-priced veterans this offseason.
The 2018 NFL league year starts March 14 and all teams must be under the salary cap by 4 p.m. Eastern Time on that day.
But trading can’t began until after 4:00 p.m. on that day, so Philly can’t unload a contract in a trade beforehand to get under the cap.
The first name that people will look at to be released is Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles. While he isn’t the future at the position, no one knows whether or not Carson Wentz will be healthy for the start of next season, so the Eagles will likely retain Foles through the March 14 deadline.
They could Foles during training camp or the preseason, just as they did with Sam Bradford in 2016. Foles and Wentz will combine for nearly $10 million next season, which is less than what many teams pay one quarterback. Thus, Foles will likely be safe when the team decides to make moves.
Someone who may not be safe is left tackle Jason Peters. He is coming off a season-ending injury, is 36 years old and has a $10.6 million cap hit for next year. Peters appears to be recovering well from his injury, but he admitted before the Super Bowl that he could be playing elsewhere next season.
“They hadn’t asked me, but I’m going to be back,” Peters said when asked if he’s had any conversations with the Eagles about his future. “Step out on a limb, if they don’t want me, I’m still [going] somewhere.”
The Eagles would save $4.3 million if they release Peters and have $6.3 million in dead money. He may end up being the odd man out, especially since backup Halapoulivaati Vaitai held up against James Harrison in the Super Bowl and is just 24 years old.
Another way to free up money is to restructure some of the current deals on the team. One of the defensive heroes, Brandon Graham, is entering the final year of his deal and both sides could look for an extension.
A new deal would lower Graham’s cap hit for 2018 and kick some money down the road when the Eagles will have more cap space. The Eagles did the same thing with Graham’s contract prior to this season and added incentives to his deal.
Perhaps the easiest way to get additional cap space would require no work at all by the Eagles. That would be for a player to retire which would wipe his salary off the books.
Darren Sproles could retire after suffering a season-ending injury but he’s a free agent next season. Tight end Brent Celek is under contract and the 11-year vet may choose to just walk away. He was surpassed by Zack Ertz years ago at the top of the depth chart and Philly also has Trey Burton waiting in the wings.
Philadelphia may have the worst draft position and limited cap space, but much is still expected of them entering next season. After all, they are the world champs.
Las Vegas also has high expectations of next season’s Eagles, as Westgate SuperBook gives them 6:1 odds at repeating as champions. Those are the second-best odds and trails only the team they beat, the Patriots, who are 9:2 favorites to win Super Bowl LIII.
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