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5 moves Eagles can make to create more salary cap space in 2022


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5 moves Eagles can make to create more salary cap space in 2022


With just a few weeks before the start of free agency, the Eagles are in a much better salary cap situation than they were a year ago.

In 2021, the NFL set a salary cap of $182.5 million and the Eagles had to make some maneuvers just to get under the cap when the new league year started. This year, things will be much easier.

In 2022, the NFL’s salary cap is expected to be set at $208.2 million and the Eagles will have no trouble complying by the start of the new league year on March 16. In fact, they’ll have some room to work under the cap at the start of free agency and can make a few more moves to create even more cap space.

The Eagles ended up carrying over $16,481,403 in cap space from 2021 and OverTheCap projects them to have just north of $21 million in cap room when the new league year begins.

But because they have three first-round picks, a good chunk of that might need to be allocated for those draft picks and OTC has the Eagles’ effective cap space at just $12,383,747. Although, they won’t have to sign those picks for a while.

The Eagles took care of one major item last month when Brandon Brooks retired. Brooks was on the books for a cap hit of over $19.4 million but because he’s retiring, the Eagles restructured his deal to save $12 million in cap space now now and will shed his $1+ million base salary after June 1.

Here are four more moves the Eagles can make to free up some cap room now or later:

Extend Javon Hargrave

The Eagles signed Hargrave to a three-year, $39 million contract before the 2020 season. After a slow start with the Eagles in his first year, Hargrave was great in 2021, especially early in the season. He set a career-high in sacks and was named to his first Pro Bowl. Hargrave just turned 29 but doesn’t seem close to slowing down. In 2022, his last year under contract, he comes with a base salary of $12,750,000 and a cap hit of $17,802,000, which is the second-highest cap hit on the team.

Last march, the Eagles converted $11.76 million of Hargrave’s base salary to a bonus so they could save some cap room (around $9.4 million). They could do something like that again in 2022; convert most of his base salary into a bonus for cap purposes and spread out the hit again. They could drop him to the minimum salary of $1.035M and convert the rest into a bonus that prorates over voidable years.

Or they could really extend Hargrave, adding more real years to his contract and also spread out the cap hit, pushing the more expensive cap years into the future when the league-wide cap is expected to continue to rise. Hargrave seems like a great candidate for an extension. He’s still under 30, one of the Eagles best players and an extension wouldn’t just clear some cap space, but it would lock up a key player for the next several years.

Restructure Darius Slay

The Eagles got solid play from Slay in his first year with the team in 2020 but he took it to a different level in 2021, when he was one of the best corners in the NFL. He was a Pro Bowler and should have garnered more consideration as an All-Pro.

After the Eagles traded for Slay in 2020, they agreed to a three-year extension through 2023. Last March, the Eagles restructured Slay’s deal, saving over $9 million in cap space. Slay is under contract in 2022 and 2023 but has base salaries of $16M in 2022 and $17M in 2023. The Eagles could execute a similar restructure this offseason to limit his team-high $22,035,000 cap hit by simply converting base salary to bonus money and spreading out the hit if they don’t want to add real years given his age. They could drop his base salary to his minimum of $1.12M and pay out the rest in a bonus. If you’re wondering why a player would take this deal, they still get paid the same amount of money; it just comes up front.

Yes, this is a kick-the-can method and it will eventually lead to dead money. But as long as there’s not another pandemic coming soon, the NFL salary cap looks poised to continue to rise year over year.

Trade Andre Dillard

To be clear, if the Eagles trade Dillard it would be because they got something worthwhile in return. Not sure what kind of value Dillard has but there are plenty of teams out there with less-than-ideal situations at tackle. Sure, Dillard was beat out by Jordan Mailata for the Eagles’ left tackle job but he still has a chance to be a starting tackle in the NFL. Maybe some team will trade for him and give him that chance.

In the fourth year of his rookie contact, Dillard has a cap hit of $3,936,422 in 2022. If the Eagles traded him, he would leave some dead money (his prorated bonus) but they would shed his entire base salary of $2,182,038.

Trade Gardner Minshew

This would be another move the Eagles would only make if they got something worthwhile in return for their backup quarterback. Minshew might not project to be a starter for many teams in the NFL but he’s a low-level starter/high-level backup who might be able to compete for a starting gig somewhere. Trading Minshew would wipe away his base salary and cap hit of $2.54 million in 2022.

But if the Eagles trade Minshew, they’d have to find another adequate backup quarterback and that might not be easy to do for the same price.

Cut J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

I don’t think this one will happen. Yes, JJAW has been a disappointing player but my guess is he’s still back for his fourth training camp with the Eagles in 2022. If the Eagles were to cut him before then, they’d be left with $405,222 in dead money but would save his entire base salary of $1,170,168. The problem with this is that it wouldn’t actually save that much cap space.

With all these perspective moves, it’s important to note that in the offseason, just the top 51 contract count for cap purposes. So if the Eagles were to cut JJAW, then another salary (around $840,000) would enter the top 51. So we’re talking a very minimal cap savings by moving on.


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I see a vet WR being signed (Williams, Chark, Kirk, Robinson, etc) and a R3-R6 guy taken in the draft. Unless someone is dumb enough to trade for Reagor AND the Birds don’t bring back Greg Ward, that is the only possible way I see JJAW staying on as a 6th WR / ST guy. I don’t think we roll with 5 guys again and I don’t see how JJAW makes the team if it’s setup this way:

DeVonta Smith

Mike Williams/DJ Chark/Etc

Quez Watkins

Alec Pierce/Justyn Ross/Etc

Jalen Reagor

Greg Ward 


DeVonta Smith

Quez Watkins





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I think the Eagles kicked the can down the road with far too many restructures and extensions. Just cut guys who aren't our future. 

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