The Philadelphia Eagles are in a bind when it comes to the NFL salary cap, but two of their veteran leaders in cornerback Darius Slay and center Jason Kelce helped them out in a big way.
Slay and Kelce both agreed to restructure their contracts as a means of helping Philadelphia retool its roster during the 2021 NFL offseason with free agency soon approaching.
Philadelphia Eagles alleviate cap woes with Darius Slay, Jason Kelce restructures
Kelce spoke with team reporter Dave Spadaro about returning for an 11th season with Philadelphia, an excerpt of which is featured here:
I’ve always said I’m playing until I’m not and I still have a very strong desire to play the game of football. […] I’m excited with a lot of the energy going around right now and, also, I didn’t want to end my career on a season like we had last year. It wouldn’t feel right. I want to leave the Eagles knowing that I left it in good hands.Jason Kelce on playing for Philadelphia Eagles in 2021
It’s unclear just how much cap relief Kelce’s contract provides, but there is at least some discount for the upcoming season involved. Slay’s contribution to the cause was no small amount, and it should free up Philadelphia general manager Howie Roseman to make some creative moves through free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.
Philadelphia Eagles’ offseason outlook after stars restructure
What might get lost in the shuffle here beyond the raw financial numbers is how Slay and Kelce sticking around bodes well for the Eagles’ organizational culture, which hasn’t had the best look of late.
Between firing former head coach Doug Pederson after a 4-11-1 season and replacing him with Nick Sirianni — who bungled his first press conference worse than any new coaching hire in NFL history — and eating tons of dead money just to trade away former franchise quarterback Carson Wentz, Philadelphia has taken some deserved heat of late.
Wentz’s devastating cap hit is a big reason why the Eagles are in such an offseason pickle in the first place, which is what triggered Slay and Kelce to ultimately restructure their contracts.
The good news is, at least for now, two of the team’s cornerstone players are buying in that they can compete in 2021. Whether it’s with second-year signal-caller Jalen Hurts under center or someone else, there seems to be faith that the team is headed in the right direction.
But Philadelphia still has work to do when it comes to the cap. Since Kelce’s discount is unclear at this point, just taking into account Slay’s savings, the Eagles are still projected to be significantly in the red, and have a draft class to bring in yet.
Defensive end Brandon Graham, All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and line mate Javon Hargrave, stud right tackle Lane Johnson and guard Brandon Brooks are among others who could restructure to get Philadelphia under the cap limit. That’s a lot to ask of numerous players, though.
It also depends how far certain players are willing to go. Slay went beyond what was probably expected to make the numbers work and to take such a burden off the Eagles in the near term.
While it was admirable for Philadelphia to do what it could in the past to pay its key veterans as soon as possible, that all-in strategy is now backfiring, particularly in the case of Wentz. Now, it’ll take some additional maneuvers and some drafting genius mixed with luck to field a truly competitive team in the next couple of years.