Eagles likely to clean house at season's end

Birds with guaranteed deals such as DeSean Jackson (left) have little to worry about, but Nnamdi Asomugha and other veterans could be looking at a salary cut or pink slip. YONG KIM / Staff
Birds with guaranteed deals such as DeSean Jackson (left) have little to worry about, but Nnamdi Asomugha and other veterans could be looking at a salary cut or pink slip. YONG KIM / Staff
Posted: November 15, 2012

Seven games remain and the playoffs are still a mathematical possibility, but Eagles general manager Howie Roseman is making a list, and it's full of well-paid veterans who could be out of jobs come the offseason.

The Eagles are projected to be about $18 million over the salary cap for 2013. Even if they carry over some of the $22 million they're under the cap this season, they will be looking to dump salaries and renegotiate contracts (offer pay cuts).

The majority of the team's starters are under contract for next season, with cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie the one notable exception. But how many of the starters, in light of a disappointing season, will Roseman and presumably a new coach choose to bring back?

Some starters are almost certain to return - no matter their production or lack thereof - because of guaranteed contracts that would count against the cap if they are released. LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Trent Cole, Todd Herremans, Evan Mathis, Brandon Graham, Danny Watkins, and Fletcher Cox have guaranteed deals.

But there are nearly a dozen veterans at risk of not returning. A few could improve their chances with strong play down the stretch. Here's a look at the players who could be on the cut line, with the amount of money the Eagles would save under the cap:

Nnamdi Asomugha ($11.3 million) - The 31-year-old cornerback is due to earn a whopping $15 million in base salary next season, with $4 million guaranteed. The Eagles aren't likely to cut Asomugha and eat the $4 million, but they're not going to pay him his full salary considering the slip in his production. More than likely, the sides will meet somewhere in the middle.

Jason Babin ($3.8 million) - Considering that Jim Washburn and his wide-nine scheme are likely to go with Andy Reid, Babin probably won't be back in 2013. The defensive end notched 18 sacks after the Eagles signed him as a free agent in 2011, but Babin hasn't been a factor this season and is one-dimensional.

Cullen Jenkins ($4 million) - He restructured his contract last offseason, but he probably won't get a similar offer again. Jenkins turns 32 in January, but the defensive tackle has been alright this season and could be kept to help nurture Cox.

Mike Patterson ($4.1 million) - The Eagles' longest-tenured player deserves kudos for getting back on the field after undergoing brain surgery in January. But the defensive tackle's days appear numbered, with the Eagles on the hook for nothing if he is released.

Demetress Bell ($9.6 million) - As impressive as Bell's free-agent contract sounded in April - five years, $35 million - only $3.25 million was guaranteed this season. The tackle was a one-year rental, and turned out to be a poor one at that.

DeMeco Ryans ($6.6 million) - He has been everything the Eagles said he would be when they traded for him in March. Turns out they needed more than just a physical, take-charge middle linebacker to improve the defense. But Ryans has done enough to return. His future with the Eagles could depend upon whether a new coach keeps the 4-3 scheme.

Brent Celek ($3.33 million) - After a hot start, the tight end has tailed off. Celek is still effective and hasn't missed a game his entire career. He is guaranteed a significant chunk of his base salary and should survive a regime change.

Jason Peters ($10.75 million) - The Eagles cut his 2012 salary in half after he ruptured his Achilles tendon in a "non-football" setting. Peters' base salary jumps $2.5 million next season, but the Eagles should have no qualms paying the tackle considering how much his absence affected the team. He will have to prove he is healthy, though.

Jeremy Maclin ($1.25 million) - There's no way the Eagles are cutting Maclin at that salary. But the wide receiver could be trade bait if the team believes he has leveled off.

Michael Vick ($13.7 million) - There are a few scenarios in which Vick returns, but certainly not with a $15.5 million base salary. More than likely he's gone, as soon as Dec. 31, the day after the season finale.


Contact Jeff McLane at jmclane@phillynews.com. Follow @Jeff_McLane on Twitter.

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