Poll: Who Will Sign Kirk Cousins?

With less than a month until free agency begins, Kirk Cousins looks to be — barring an 11th-hour Redskins franchise tag he would fight — close to signing a long-term contract with the team of his choice.

It’s an incredibly unique situation, and teams with disparate profiles figure to make runs at signing the 29-year-old quarterback. Rebuilding teams, contending teams and operations that would seemingly be contenders if supplied a quarterback are going to pursue Cousins. So, where will he go?

The Jets and Browns are going to have the most money to chase Cousins, and the former makes sense as a destination. New York surprised many last season by winning five games and finishing well off the pace for the No. 1 pick, which many predicted the rebuilding team would secure. The Jets could have more than $90MM in cap space after a few sensible roster moves, and despite their troubles in recent years, could make a case they are a young team who could build a long-term foundation around Cousins.

Cousins has said repeatedly that after making more than $44MM the past two years he wants to play for a contending team. The Browns, though, have a staggering amount of cap space at $110MM-plus. They could sell a free agent QB on their ability to construct a foundation, but their past does not inspire much confidence. And this, by just about every indication to this point, seems like the year they draft a quarterback.

The Bills made a surprise run to the playoffs last season, but Brandon Beane said upon being hired he doesn’t plan to make many high-cost free agent signings. Considering this figures to be the most expensive free agent in NFL history, it’s difficult to envision a Bills push for Cousins. And Tyrod Taylor may not be completely out of the picture yet.

The Broncos and Cardinals are in similar positions as recent contenders who have fallen off the pace a bit, and neither will have the cap space to outflank the Jets or Browns. Both saw quarterback play lower their ceilings last season, and the Cardinals saw their longtime starter retire and his backups’ contracts expire. Denver has both Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian under contract but has made no secret about wanting to upgrade — via free agency or the draft — with that desire presumably being centered around complementing the core players remaining from the Super Bowl season.

Both the Broncos and Jets are rumored to be gearing up for entrances into the Cousins sweepstakes, and the Bovada sports book has these two as the early frontrunners. However, both the Vikings and Jaguars fit the profile of franchises that could use Cousins as a possible springboard to a Super Bowl. How serious are they about this, though?

The Jaguars may have complications because of Blake Bortles‘ wrist surgery. The embattled starter not being able to pass a physical come mid-March will guarantee his $19MM fifth-year option salary and cloud a potential Cousins pursuit. Jacksonville’s current plan is to keep Bortles, but is a chance at Cousins too tempting to avoid?

The Vikings would make sense as well but may opt to stick with Case Keenum via franchise tag. However, Cousins has proven more than Keenum, and although he would make for a costlier expense, Minnesota being on the doorstep of its first Super Bowl berth in 40-plus years may make ditching their 2017 setup for Cousins a worthwhile gamble. The Vikings do have several core players entering contract years, which could make a near-$30MM-AAV Cousins accord complicated. Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Stefon Diggs and Danielle Hunter are four who fit that profile. How much will that factor into a Cousins push?

So, where does Cousins end up?

Does he stick to his winning-situation statements and avoid teams who have struggled in recent years, or can the Browns or Jets submit an offer he can’t refuse? Can the Broncos make a sales pitch that their history surrounding a UFA QB with championship-caliber talent would be worth sacrificing a bit of cash, or is their nucleus’ window closing to the point Cousins looks elsewhere? How serious are the Cardinals and Bills in this derby? And how much would the Vikings or Jaguars entering the fray change the outlook of this high-stakes process? Take PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings To Hire Ex-Raiders OC Todd Downing

Todd Downing looks set for a homecoming venture. The recently dismissed Raiders offensive coordinator has landed a job with the Vikings, with Adam Caplan of ESPN.com reporting (on Twitter) he will serve as a senior offensive assistant and passing-game specialist.

Not only did the Vikings give Downing his first NFL opportunity, as an intern in 2001 when the future OC was just 21, but Downing is an Eden Prairie, Minn., native. The Vikings’ facility being located in Eden Prairie makes this a logical move for the 37-year-old assistant to rebound from a one-and-done stint as the Raiders’ OC.

Downing served as Oakland’s quarterbacks coach prior to ascending to OC in 2017, but the Raiders underwhelmed last season and turned back to Jon Gruden. Downing will join new OC John DeFilippo and QBs coach Kevin Stefanski as key staffers involved with Minnesota’s aerial attack. With each of these coaches under 40, and Mike Zimmer being a defensive-minded HC, the Vikings will have young voices in charge of their offense.

The Bears interviewed Downing in January for their QBs job but went in another direction. Downing’s work helping Derek Carr ascend to the position of MVP candidate in 2016 led to him becoming the Raiders’ OC. The Raiders proceeded to plummet from the No. 6 offense, their finish in 2016 under Bill Musgrave, to No. 17 during Downing’s year overseeing the unit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Rumors: Ravens, Haley, Steelers

John Harbaugh confirmed the Ravens were interested in Torrey Smith last offseason, and Joe Flacco called his former deep threat while he was a free agent, Jeff Zreibec of the Baltimore Sun notes. Smith ultimately decided to sign with the Eagles, and it’s unclear what the Ravens offered (if one was made) for a reunion. Smith, who the 49ers cut prior to free agency last year, was interested in a Ravens return as well. But he didn’t recall the Ravens and his camp getting far on a deal.

I don’t really think so. We talked, but with the way the timing was going, I kind of just had to make a decision,” Smith told Zreibec about the sides’ 2017 discussions. “For me, this time around, it wasn’t about finances at all. It was about the right situation and the right time and that’s really kind of how it’s going to probably end up being for the rest of my career.

… Obviously, I had interest in coming back. That’s home. I have a lot of respect for everyone over there. They know that. It’s love forever. But to have the opportunity to come up here with some guys I was familiar with and to play in my wife’s hometown, that was pretty cool as well.”

However, with the now-two-time Super Bowl champion wideout a possible free agent again soon — the cap-strapped Eagles hold a team option for his $5MM 2018 wages — he may have another decision to make. And with Baltimore’s post-Smith deep threat, Mike Wallace, also a UFA, the sides could potentially revisit a reunion. Smith’s best seasons came with the Ravens, and he hasn’t come particularly close to matching his Baltimore work over the past two seasons.

Here’s the latest from some of the Ravens’ top rivals.

  • The Browns‘ offense may like quite familiar to a certain fanbase next season. Todd Haley will be bringing over his offensive system from Pittsburgh, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes. The longtime OC and new Browns play-caller will be implementing his scheme, complete with new terminology, so it will mark a significant adjustment from a team that operated without an OC the past two seasons. However, some of Hue Jackson‘s previous concepts will be retained, Haley said.
  • While Ryan Shazier continues his rehab from the spine injury that has his NFL career in danger of ending, the Pro Bowl linebacker is working out at Steelers facilities daily. Kevin Colbert said Shazier works out at the team’s headquarters and attends meetings in addition to his rehab performed at an outpatient facility. Guaranteed $8.7MM next season, Shazier has been working with coaches watching film and observing scouting meetings, Joe Rutter of the the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Owner Art Rooney said last week Shazier would have a role with the 2018 Steelers even if he can’t play next season. The linebacker was recently released from a Pittsburgh hospital after at two-month stay and displayed progress at a recent Pittsburgh Penguins game by standing up, with assistance, and remaining on his feet to a standing ovation.
  • The Steelers have already restructured two starters’ deals to create 2018 cap space and may well continue to do so. Even after they reorganized David DeCastro and Stephon Tuitt‘s contracts, the Steelers have barely $7MM in projected space. Pittsburgh used to be against this tactic, but Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports team VP of football and business administration Omar Khan is believed to have convinced ownership to proceed in this fashion years ago. Khan serves as the franchise’s chief negotiator. While Tuitt and DeCastro’s 2019 cap numbers rose because of last week’s transactions, Bouchette notes the Steelers believe the cap’s continuous rises will help absorb those figures — the 2019 cap could well surpass $190MM — and keep the team from having to cut essential personnel to cover for their accounting tricks.

Colbert Optimistic Steelers Will Re-Sign Bell

Le’Veon Bell‘s offseason comments appear to indicate a long-term Steelers deal is likelier than it was in 2017, and Kevin Colbert sounds more optimistic as well.

I believe I am [confident]. … I think with both sides wanting to get something done,” the longtime Steelers GM said, via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “… I think that certainly aids your ability to get that done.”

Bell has vehemently spoken out against being franchise-tagged again, even threatening to retire if the Steelers tagged him again. But even in that scenario, the running back will have made nearly $27MM between 2017-18. The Steelers restructured Stephon Tuitt and David DeCastro‘s contracts to create cap room, and Colbert indicated similar restructures could be on the docket.

The tag remains an option for the Steelers, who set Tuesday as an unofficial deadline for a Bell deal. A Bell tag is expected to cost $14.5MM if applied.

Everybody knows it’s an option,” Colbert said of the tag route. “We’ll never say we wouldn’t use it. Our goal is to be able to sign him to a long-term deal.”

Bell amassed a historic workload last season, accumulating 431 touches across 16 games (counting the team’s divisional-round contest), but Colbert doesn’t see him wearing down anytime soon. He confirmed the Steelers met with Bell following the season to express desire to extend this relationship long-term.

We met with Le’Veon before he left [after last season] and said, ‘Look, we have a strong desire to keep you with the Pittsburgh Steelers the remainder of your career,'” Colbert said, via Bouchette. “We do know that Le’Veon has been a great player for us. We think he can still be a great player from this point forward, and we’d love to have him be a Steeler for the rest of his career.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Bell, Seahawks, Buccaneers

Some assorted notes from around the NFL…

  • The Buccaneers are interviewing former Arizona Cardinals defensive line coach Brentson Buckner for the same position on their staff, reports Scott Reynolds of PewterReports.com (and since confirmed by other sources). Buckner and general manager Jason Licht have a relationship from their time in Arizona, perhaps giving him an advantage during the process. The Bucs are also interviewing assistant defensive line coach Paul Spicer and former Colts defensive coordinator Ted Monachino.
  • With three days remaining until Le’Veon Bell‘s artificial deadline to sign a new deal with the Steelers, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com wonders whether the two sides will come to an agreement. The reporter notes that there’s been no progress between the two sides in recent weeks, and he adds that it makes plenty of sense for Bell to wait for a deal. Ultimately, if the Steelers are claiming their offer will continue to drop as time goes on, Florio believes the running back should call their bluff and explore his value on the open market.
  • Following the massive deals signed by Jimmy Garoppolo and Alex Smith, ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson believes Russell Wilson could be in line for a contract that pays him $30MM per season. When the Seahawks quarterback signed an extension three years ago, he was second in average annual salary (behind Aaron Rodgers). However, following the latest deals and projected contracts for Kirk Cousins and Drew Brees, Wilson could now fall all the way to 10th. Ultimately, the writer believes the organization could pursue a new deal with Wilson before next offseason.

Latest On Rob Gronkowski’s Future

In the aftermath of the Patriots’ loss in the Super Bowl, tight end Rob Gronkowski admitted that he could consider retiring. Well, one organization is trying to sway Gronk into ditching the NFL, as renowned wrestling reporter Dave Meltzer says the WWE is attempting to sign the Pro Bowler (via SI.com’s Dan Gartland).

Rob Gronkowski (vertical)According to Meltzer, the WWE “is willing to offer a similar style deal to Gronkowski that they offered to Ronda Rousey.” Wrestler Mojo Rawley, who is good friends with the tight end, echoed the sentiment, telling TMZ that Gronk joining the WWE is “not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”

If Gronkowski retired from the NFL, his decision would surely be attributed to injury. The tight end has suffered his fair share of ailments throughout his career, including a concussion during the AFC Championship. Of course, he’s still only 28-years-old, so there’s plenty more earning potential in the NFL. Gronk is set to make $10MM next season, although money may not be a huge motivator. A previous report indicated that the tight end hasn’t spent a dime of his NFL money, as he’s relied solely on money from his endorsements.

Losing Gronkowski would be a huge hit to the Patriots offense. The former second-rounder has been one of Tom Brady‘s favorite targets since entering the league, hauling in 76 touchdowns through eight seasons. The tight end had another productive season in 2017, catching 69 passes for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

QB Notes: Brees, McCarron, Winston

Last offseason, the Bengals offered quarterback AJ McCarron to the Jets. The team ultimately declined the trade, but ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini believes the organization could have more interest in the free agent this offseason.

The writer believes McCarron is the team’s backup plan to Kirk Cousins, and he anticipates that the 2014 fifth-rounder will receive a deal that exceeds Mike Glennon‘s three-year, $45MM contract ($18.5MM guaranteed) from last year. Ultimately, considering the Jets would have to invest in a quarterback with only three career starts, Cimini believes the team would be better off rolling with Josh McCown for another season.

Let’s take a look at some more quarterback notes from around the NFL…

  • March 14th is essentially the deadline for the Saints and quarterback Drew Brees to come to an agreement on a new contract, writes ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano. The final three seasons of the veteran’s contract will void on that day, and if they wish to keep Brees for another season, they’d be required to tolerate his salary and his “$18 million worth of signing bonus prorated on this year’s salary cap.”
  • Meanwhile, Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com says if Brees ends up reaching free agency, the Browns could be a serious suitor. The team is rostering a talented wideout in Josh Gordon and a veteran tackle in Joe Thomas, and they’re armed with $110MM in cap space and several alluring draft picks. While Brees may not want to consider an organization that just completed a winless season, the writer believes a one-year, $50MM might not be out of the question.
  • Until he inks a new deal, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com will continue to regard Brees as the top free agent quarterback. The writer rounds out his list of the top signal-callers with Cousins, Case Keenum, McCarron, and Sam Bradford.
  • Jameis Winston will surely receive a hefty payday from the Buccaneers, but Rick Stroud of TampaBay.com wonders if the new deal “will cost the Bucs more than money.” Considering the type of deal Winston will sign, the writer wonders if the contract could limit the organization’s ability to extend several of their young core players. As a result, Stroud believes the team should make it a priority to sign receiver Mike Evans, center Ali Marpet, tackle Donovan Smith and linebacker Kwon Alexander to new deals as soon as possible.

West Notes: Rams, 49ers, Broncos, Raiders

Two Rams defenders — linebacker Mark Barron and Kayvon Webster — recently underwent shoulder surgery, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). While Barron’s operation will allow him to be ready for training camp, Webster might not be available due to the torn Achilles which ended his 2017 campaign. Indeed, Webster had his shoulder procedure now so that he can rehabilitate both injuries at the same time, per Rapoport. Los Angeles will be counting on the 27-year-old Webster next season, as No. 1 cornerback Trumaine Johnson is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency and won’t be franchise-tagged for a third consecutive campaign. Webster, who followed Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips from Denver last offseason, is entering his contract year.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • Daniel Kilgore‘s new three-year deal with the 49ers is worth nearly $12MM and and contains $7MM in guarantees, tweets Rapoport. Kilgore, who was roughly a month away from becoming a free agent, said he accepted a team-friendly contract so San Francisco can ink quality free agents this offseason, per Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). The 30-year-old Kilgore was a backup or injured for much of the first five years of his career, but he’s started 29 games for the 49ers over the past two seasons. For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus ranked Kilgore as just the 23rd-best center in the league in 2017, but San Francisco is clearly higher on him than that finish would indicate.
  • The Broncos and the Seahawks are two teams who could dictate the 2018 offseason, as Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com writes. While one recent report indicated Denver wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are likely to stick on the club’s 2018 roster, other general mangers believe one or both will be available on the trade market. The Broncos are also trying to land a franchise quarterback and deal cornerback Aqib Talib, meaning they’ll be heavily involved in transactional machinations over the next few weeks. Seattle, meanwhile, is facing change at multiple areas along its vaunted defense, as injuries to Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor could cloud the team’s plans.
  • Free agent linebacker Michael Scherer recently worked out for the Raiders, reports veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (Twitter link). Scherer, a Missouri product, appeared in 26 games for the Tigers from 2014-15 before a knee injury ended his senior season after seven contests in 2016. He’s yet to land an NFL contract, but he did audition for the Bears and Giants last year.

Draft Notes: McGlinchey, Edmunds, R. Smith

The 2018 offensive tackle class is setting up to underwhelm, as Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.net observes in his latest look at this year’s prospects. So far, most NFL clubs only rate one tackle — Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey — as worthy of a first-round pick, and given that he may be the only available tackle capable of starting on day one, his stock figures to rise even more as draft day approaches. Meanwhile, Orlando Brown (Oklahoma) is viewed as a right tackle, while Connor Williams (Texas) is only on some teams’ guard boards. Further down the list, Western Michigan’s Chukwuma Okorafor, Pittsburgh’s Brian O’Neill, and UCLA’s Kolton Miller are considered Day 2 selections, while Martinas Rankin (Mississippi State) isn’t believed to be a left tackle at the pro level, per Pauline.

Here’s more on the 2018 draft, all courtesy of Pauline:

  • With NFL teams searching for athletic linebackers, Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Teach) and Leighton Vander Esch (Boise State) are likely to come off the board earlier than many expect, according to Pauline. In fact, Edmunds is rising up draft boards so quickly that he may become a top-12 selection. However, the scouting combine will prove to be an important test for Edmunds, per Pauline, who says the former Hokie lacks “quick change-of-direction skills.” Vander Esch, meanwhile, is being compared to former Bears linebacker and 2018 Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher, and most clubs believe he can be a three-down defender.
  • While Edmund and Vander Esch are drawing rave reviews, fellow linebacker Roquan Smith is trending in the other direction, reports Pauline. Given that the pass game now dominates the pro ranks, Smith’s problems playing man coverage against opposing running backs and tight ends could prove troublesome. However, Pauline says Smith can be effective when used in zone coverage, which should make the Georgia product viable for a good number of NFL teams.
  • Wake Forest edge rusher Duke Ejiofor underwent surgery for a torn labrum in late January, but Pauline doesn’t believe the operation will affect Ejiofor’s draft stock. Projected as a Day 2 pick, Ejiofor is expected to run a 4.75 40-yard dash despite sitting at nearly 270 pounds. Scouts are impressed by Ejiofor’s “explosiveness, power, and athleticism,” and given that his labrum injury occurred in October, teams can account for any drop in performance after that time.

Top 3 Offseason Needs: Philadelphia Eagles

In advance of March 14, the start of free agency in the NFL, Pro Football Rumors will detail each team’s three most glaring roster issues. We’ll continue this year’s series with the Philadelphia Eagles, who overcame the loss of their MVP-caliber starting quarterback to win the Super Bowl.

Depth Chart (via Roster Resource)

Pending Free Agents:

Top 10 Cap Hits for 2018:

  1. Fletcher Cox, DT: $17,900,000
  2. Lane Johnson, T: $12,250,000
  3. Jason Peters, T: $11,666,666
  4. Vinny Curry, DL: $11,000,000
  5. Brandon Brooks, G: $10,886,397
  6. Zach Ertz, TE: $10,345,000
  7. Malcolm Jenkins, S: $10,000,000
  8. Rodney McLeod, S: $8,406,250
  9. Mychal Kendricks, LB: $7,600,000
  10. Nick Foles, QB: $7,600,000

Other:

  • Projected cap space (via Over the Cap): -$9,426,190
  • 32nd pick in draft
  • Must exercise or decline 2019 fifth-year option for WR Nelson Agholor

Three Needs:

1) Figure out what to do with Nick Foles: After the Eagles lost starting quarterback Carson Wentz to a torn ACL in Week 14, no one gave them much of a chance to sustain an extended postseason run. Although Philadelphia boasted one of the best overall rosters in the NFL, backup signal-caller Nick Foles didn’t inspire a ton of confidence. And he probably shouldn’t have: aside from one solid 2016 start with the Chiefs, Foles hadn’t been productive since the 2013 campaign (which also came with the Eagles). Philadelphia received a first-round bye after securing the No. 1 seed in the NFC, but a short playoff stint looked exceedingly likely.Nick Foles (Vertical)

We all know what happened next. Despite being the underdog in each game, the Eagles held on against the Falcons in the Divisional Round, destroyed the Vikings in the NFC Championship, and pulled out a classic against the Patriots to win the first Super Bowl in franchise history. Foles was surgical, completing 28-of-43 attempts for 373 yards and three touchdowns while catching a touchdown pass from tight end Trey Burton on a fourth down, Philly Special play call. Two years after contemplating retirement, Foles is the reigning Super Bowl MVP.

So what do the Eagles do with Foles now? He’s not going to return as a starter in 2018, as Wentz is Philadelphia’s franchise quarterback and was on track to be named league MVP before he went down with injury. But that doesn’t mean Foles can’t come back as Wentz’s backup for another season, especially given how he proved his value during the Eagles’ Super Bowl run. But Foles is expensive: discounting Mike Glennon, who is sure to be released this offseason, Foles is the league’s highest-paid No. 2 quarterback. He’s due to count for $7.6MM on Philadelphia’s 2018 salary cap, and will collect $6MM in cash next season.

Most clubs would be able to afford a top-tier backup signal-caller at Foles’ price, but the Eagles’ salary cap situation is dire. At present, Philadelphia ranks dead last in expected 2018 space, and is projected to be nearly $10MM over the cap when the new league year begins in March. If Foles is traded, the Eagles would pick up $5.2MM in cap room, a penance to many teams but a critical amount for Philadelphia. There are other ways for vice president of football operations Howie Roseman to create space, to be sure, but trading Foles would also allow the Eagles to add draft capital, another benefit for a team that currently lacks a second- or third-round pick.

What type of return the Eagles can expect for Foles is an open question. Here’s a look at how much several comparable quarterbacks have cost over the past two seasons:

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Jacoby Brissett is the absolute floor for a possible Foles trade, but Jimmy Garoppolo and Sam Bradford are both acceptable comps. Sure, Jimmy G now looks like one of the NFL’s next great quarterbacks, but at the time the Patriots dealt him to the 49ers, Garoppolo boasted only two career starts and 94 career attempts — Foles topped both of those marks (and posted a superior quarterback rating) during the Eagles’ playoff run alone. Of course, Garoppolo hadn’t put any poor performances on film and was 26 years old when he was traded, while Foles does have some substandard play on his record and is entering his age-29 season.

Like Foles, Bradford was an Eagle at the time he was dealt, and was coming off a campaign in which he completed 65% of his passes for 19 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and an 86.4 passer rating. While he never hit the highs that did Foles, Bradford managed his competent performance over a 14-game stretch, giving an indication that his production would be sustainable going forward. Foles was excellent over a three-playoff-game sample, but will other NFL clubs be willing to bet on him as a starter in 2018?Nick Foles (Vertical)

Given that Foles’ value is at an all-time high, I don’t see how the Eagles can’t at least explore his trade value, especially given their salary cap and draft capital situation. I’d set parameters, though, and likely wouldn’t accept anything less than a early-to-mid second-round selection. The 2018 quarterback market offers more options — Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum, Bradford — than any in recent memory, so teams may not be clamoring to acquire Foles, but clubs such as the Browns (pick Nos. 33 and 35 in the early second round), the Jets (No. 37), the Broncos (No. 40), the Cardinals (No. 47), and Bills (No. 53) could all express interest.

If Foles is gone, the Eagles will need a new backup quarterback (although they have indicated confidence in third-stringer Nate Sudfeld). Philadelphia isn’t likely to find a better option than Sudfeld late in the draft, so a free agent signal-caller would represent the expected solution. Of course, any veteran inked by the Eagles would need to come at a cheaper rate than Foles (otherwise there’d be no financial reason to trade him). Josh McCown and Matt Moore stand out as experienced quarterbacks who could competently fill in for Wentz, while a trade acquisition — perhaps the Browns include DeShone Kizer or Cody Kessler in a Foles swap — can’t be ruled out.

2) Part ways with Jason Peters, but find a swing tackle: We’ve already covered the Eagles’ ominous salary cap situation, but trading Nick Foles might not be the only financially-motivated move Philadelphia needs to make over the coming weeks. Veteran left tackle Jason Peters, who played in seven games before tearing his ACL, is set to count for $10.667MM in 2018, an unpalatable figure for a 36-year-old coming off injury. While Eagles head coach Doug Pederson recently indicated Peters will return to Philadelphia next season, Pederson isn’t the one making the tough cap-related decisions — those calls will fall to Howie Roseman, who must weigh Peters’ ability against his cost.Jason Peters

However, the Eagles will almost certainly have to trade Peters if they want to experience any cap relief. Under the terms of his recent extension, Peters garnered a $4.5MM injury guarantee for the 2018 season. Given that he tore his ACL in October, Peters likely won’t be able to pass a physical before that total becomes fully guaranteed in March, so Philadelphia will be paying the sum either way. In fact, it will cost more — $10,833,334 vs. $10,666,666 — to cut Peters than to keep him on the roster next year, provided that $4.5MM guarantee kicks in.

As such, a trade of Peters is the only way the Eagles can get his cap charge off their books, and I’d expect a number of teams to be interested in acquiring a high-quality tackle, even an aged one with a knee injury. Peters, a likely future Hall of Famer, graded as the NFL’s seventh-best offensive tackle before going down in 2017, per Pro Football Focus, meaning he’s still a valuable commodity. Club such as the Patriots (if they lose Nate Solder to free agency), the Bengals, the Texans, the Jaguars, the Buccaneers, and the Cardinals could all use a left tackle, and Peters would only cost an acquiring team $6.75MM next season.Read more

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