As long as the Eagles have Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson, Philadelphia has the potential to contend.
The window looks huge, like a floor to ceiling piece of glass, but is their actual Super Bowl contending potentiality — at least in the short term, smaller than fans think?
The list of free agent decisions this spring is relatively low-impact. Nigel Bradham (probably staying), Trey Burton (probably not), LeGarrette Blount (also probably not) and Patrick Robinson (could go either way) lead the ledger of items to finance.
And though each had a major impact on the Super Bowl run this past season, they’ll be replaced.
Burton was a luxury as a third tight end behind Zach Ertz, Blount will give way to Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement next year and Robinson will step aside likely, for last year’s second round pick cornerback Sidney Jones.
Philly should be in the thick of things in 2018 with more or less the same team that prevailed in Minneapolis.
But what about 2019?
Ajayi will become an unrestricted free agent at age 25 and require a big extension if he continues to produce. Brandon Graham, if he doesn’t get extended this offseason will be on the open market, as will Jordan Hicks and Ronald Darby. Chance Warmack will also be a free agent and a decision on future hall of fame Jason Peters will need to be made (as it stands, he has a $10.7 million team option in 2019).
The list isn’t long, but it’s pricey. Ajayi, Graham, Hicks and Darby are all in the prime of their careers and three of the four will be looking for big paydays after their rookie contracts expire.
For the cash-strapped Eagles, there will be no way for the team to re-sign all of them without sacrificing elsewhere. Which would give a team that many agreed had very few holes in 2017 some holes in 2019.
As it stands now, the Birds face more than a $9 million overage of the current cap and will actively be maneuvering to make their cap work in 2018 — likely parting ways with Torrey Smith, Brent Celek and others.
But this offseason’s difficult decisions will pale in comparison to 2019’s.
It’s very tough to get to the top, but staying there is equally difficult. Can Philadelphia find a way to mimic the oft-changing Patriots? Or stumble like other recent Super Bowl teams unable to keep the band together, like the Seahawks and Broncos?
Eagles 2019 Free Agents
Calculated market value, per season
Brandon Graham, DE: $16.6m (current salary $8m)
Ronald Darby, CB: $13.5m ($1m)
Jordan Hicks, LB: $5.9m ($2m)
Jay Ajayi, RB: $5.1m ($1.9m)