Philadelphia Eagles 2021 offseason: 9 players who could be released for salary cap reasons

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Glenn Erby
·5 min read
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With looming salary cap issues needing to be addressed during the 2021 NFL offseason, the Eagles could part ways with about 15-20 players on the current roster.

Philadelphia currently has 67 players under contract for 2021 and moving on from some big named, costly, or older veterans could save the Eagles millions before the start of free agency.

The Eagles may not be significant players in the 2021 portion of NFL free agency, but roster cuts and a rebuild are necessary and we’ve listed 10-players who could be cap casualties.

1. DT Malik Jackson

Jackson was supposed to form a dynamic, game-wrecking duo with Fletcher Cox, but injuries and inconsistent play have made it hard to warrant the $10+ million salary he was due before restructuring his contract. Jackson missed the bulk of the 2019 season with a foot injury and after returning in 2020, he logged 1½ sacks and 11 QB hits the first six games of the year but no sacks and just one QB hit in the final eight. Jackson is scheduled to earn $2 million next year plus a $1 million roster bonus and carries a $5.61 million cap hit. With Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave both back, the Eagles can move on.

2. WR Alshon Jeffery

Jan 13, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) makes a catch in front of New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore (23) during the first quarter of a NFC Divisional playoff football game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Alshon Jeffery’s contract is attractive for a release or trade after his deal was also restructured. Cutting Jeffery would clear out nearly $7 million in cap space, with $10.51 in dead money that would count.

3. TE Zach Ertz

Ertz wants to return and he deserves the opportunity to retire as an Eagle. He's due $8.2 million and carries a cap hit of $12.4 million in 2021. Ertz's contract issues bubbled onto the field and he struggled to duplicate his normal production, only logging 36 catches for 335 yards and one TD, while also seeing his Pro Bowl streak end at three straight. The tight end stands 31 catches shy of Harold Carmichael’s franchise record but Dallas Goedert's emergence could signal the end.

4. WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside looks on during an NFL football practice, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola, Pool)

The former Stanford star could be Howie Roseman's biggest draft blunder. The 57th pick in the 2019 draft has just 14 catches in two seasons, while some of his peers have been able to produce that type of production in single games. Cutting Arcega-Whiteside would clear about $540,000.

5. Pass Rusher Genard Avery

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Genard Avery (58) waits for play to resume, during the second half at an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Avery looks the part, but the production hasn't followed. Avery has played just 137 defensive snaps since being acquired from Cleveland, logging 1½ sacks and six tackles. Avery carries a $920,000 cap figure for 2021 but no dead money if he’s released because he was acquired in a trade and the Eagles never paid out a bonus.

6. WR Marquise Goodwin

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (11) catches a pass before scoring a touchdown in the first quarter of the NFL game between Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019.
Cincinnati Bengals San Francisco 49ers

Goodwin opted out in 2020 after the Eagles traded picks to the 49ers on draft night for the speedy wide receiver. His cap space transfers over to 2021 due to his opt-out and the Eagles would save almost $5 million by moving on.

7. WR DeSean Jackson

9. DeSean Jackson:$10,934,000

Jackson is still a home run threat when healthy, but the Eagles need to get younger and his cap figure is enormous. The veteran wideout carries a $10.93 million cap figure in 2021 and would count $5.8 million in dead money. The Eagles would save $5 million by moving on, but he could return at a discounted rate.

8. OL Matt Pryor

October 4, 2020; Santa Clara, California, USA; Philadelphia Eagles offensive guard Matt Pryor (69) before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Pryor regressed at times this season, while Nate Herbig, Jack Driscoll, and Jordan Mailata all took huge steps forward. With Andre Dillard and Brandon Brooks returning from injury, Pryor doesn't fit on the depth chart and his release would save about $920,000.

9. DE Derek Barnett

Oct 22, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) loses control of the ball while attempting to pass in front of Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Derek Barnett (96) during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It's been expected that the Eagles would keep the former first-round pick and the team officially exercised Barnett’s fifth-year contract option on Tuesday. Barnett is on the hook for $10 million and the fifth-year option is only guaranteed for injury. The Eagles can cut Barnett before the start of the new league year in March and avoid his salary altogether if he can pass a physical. The 14th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft Barnett has produced 101 tackles, 19.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles.