Fletcher Cox

Eagles Process Retirements For C Jason Kelce, DT Fletcher Cox

The retirements of life-long Eagles Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox have been news for some time now. With Kelce exploring media opportunities and Cox seeing a decreased workload in 2023, both players confirmed that they would be hanging up their cleats after spending the entirety of their careers in Philadelphia. Despite the news being well-known, the Eagles waited until today to process the veterans’ retirement transactions.

Because of the contracts that each player was on at the time of their decisions, the Eagles would’ve been on the hook for heavy cap numbers in the next couple of years. By waiting until after June 1 to post the transactions, the team is able to spread out the cap hit of contracts over a wider period.

Kelce, for example, was still on the books for $26.62MM per his 2023 contract. If the team had processed the retirement when it occurred, they would be on the hook for that amount in 2024. Because the made in a post-June 1 transaction, Kelce will now represent cap hits of $10.18MM in 2024 and $16.44MM in 2025. Processing it before June 1 would’ve resulted in $25.12MM of dead money in 2024 and $16.44MM in 2025. Philadelphia has effectively reduced the dead money tied to Kelce’s contract to $8.68MM in 2024 and $7.28MM in 2025.

Similarly, Fletcher was on the books for a remaining $15.51MM over the next two years that Philadelphia would’ve been responsible for all in the 2024 if they processed his retirement when it was announced. With the post-June 1 designation of the transaction, Fletcher will hold cap hits of $5.41 in 2024 and $10.1MM in 2025. The team reduced the dead money on Flectcher’s contract from $14.3MM in 2024 and $10.1MM in 2025 to $4.2MM in each of the next two years.

In unrelated news, the Eagles will be filling one of the two newly vacated roster spots to sign Griffin Hebert. Originally an undrafted tight end out of Louisiana Tech, Hebert has since transitioned to wide receiver at the NFL level after joining the Eagles’ practice squad late into his rookie season last year. He signed a reserve/futures deal with the team but was waived in shortly after the draft. He participated in the team’s rookie minicamp on a tryout basis and has officially been brought back on a tryout basis for mandatory minicamp, per Andrew DiCecco of InsideTheBirds.com.

Eagles DT Fletcher Cox To Retire

We heard last week that longtime Eagles DT Fletcher Cox was widely expected to retire. Cox is following through on that decision, announcing on his Instagram page that he is hanging up the cleats (via Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network).

Cox, 33, joins center Jason Kelce as a member of Philadelphia’s storied ‘Core Four’ who will not be in place moving forward. Cox will end his Eagles tenure ranked third in franchise history in games played behind only Kelce and defensive end Brandon Graham. The latter is working on a new deal, but Cox’s absence will still leave a major vacancy along the defensive line.

The former first-rounder spent his entire 12-year career in Philadelphia, although in recent seasons he faced a relatively uncertain future. Cox was released in 2022 before re-joining the team on a less expensive contract. The following year, he fielded outside offers before electing to sign another one-year pact with the Eagles. Cox turned down more money in doing so, and over the course of the 2023 campaign he remained a full-time starter along the interior.

The Mississippi State alum notched five sacks last season, adding to his consistent production in that regard throughout his decorated career. Cox reached the double-digit sack mark only once (in 2018), but he was a Pro Bowler six consecutive times in a stretch from 2015-20. He earned second-team All-Pro honors three times, along with a first-team inclusion in 2018. Cox’s decorated resume includes a spot on the 2010s All-Decade team.

A major contributor to the Eagles’ Super Bowl-winning team in 2017 as well as the one which reached the title game in 2022, Cox will leave the game with a championship ring and a reputation as one of the top defensive linemen of his generation. Replacing him will be a tall order, though the Eagles have prepared for this news in recent offseasons by selecting Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter in the first round of the past two drafts. That duo will face increased expectations in 2024 and beyond.

“I gave everything I had to this team and to this city,” Cox’s announcement reads in part. “I don’t know what’s next for me, but I do know that I’m forever grateful for my time here in Philadelphia and with the Eagles organization.”

Cox continued to land eight-figure deals after the conclusion of his rookie pact, highlighted by his 2016 extension. That six-year, $102.6MM deal allowed him to build much of his illustrious Philadelphia tenure while adding considerably to his financial success in the NFL. In all, Cox will depart with more than $128MM in career earnings.

Rory Parks contributed to this post. 

Eagles, DE Brandon Graham Moving Toward Deal?

One of the Eagles’ “Core Four” linemen has committed to retiring. With Jason Kelce out of the picture, Fletcher Cox has now been tied to walking away. The second-oldest member of this quartet still wants to play, however.

Brandon Graham may well be moving close to another Eagles agreement. The veteran defensive end said during an appearance on WIP SportsRadio the plan is for him to re-sign with the Eagles; the 35-year-old pass rusher added (via PHLY Sports) he is confident a deal will be completed.

[RELATED: Graham Contract May Come Prior To Free Agency]

Graham tied Eagles legend Chuck Bednarik by playing a 14th season with the team last year; a 15th would make the former first-round pick the longest-tenured player in Eagles history. Expressing interest of reaching the 15-season plateau back in 2022, Graham surpassed David Akers‘ franchise record for games played last season. He has played in 195 regular-season games.

Graham no longer serves as the Eagles’ top pass rusher or even a regular starter, with Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat in place as the team’s top edge performers. Both are going into contract years, and Roseman has already given Reddick permission to seek a trade. Tied to a $15MM contract he has outplayed, Reddick has led the Eagles in sacks in each of the past two seasons. Graham, however, has served as an important role player.

Responsible for one of the greatest plays in Eagles history — the fourth-quarter strip of Tom Brady that led to a Super Bowl LII triumph — Graham has reached eight sacks in a season three times since. In 2022, Graham’s career-high 11 sacks helped the Eagles threaten the 1984 Bears’ single-season NFL record. Graham re-signed on a one-year, $5MM accord to stay on in 2023, though he notched only three sacks last season. Even though the salary cap has climbed to $255.4MM, Graham will have a tough time securing more than that $5MM payment to stay with the team.

On a related note, Graham does expect Cox to walk away after 12 seasons. The 2012 first-round pick has been vital to the Eagles’ modern success. Cox retiring would lead to the Eagles losing DT starters in consecutive offseasons, with Javon Hargrave joining the 49ers last year. Of course, the line-obsessed franchise has prepared for this, with Jalen Carter joining ex-college teammate Jordan Davis in last year’s first round.

Fletcher Cox Considering Retirement?

Questions have surrounded each member of the Eagles’ ‘Core Four’ in recent years as they near the end of their decorated careers. Center Jason Kelce has not officially retired, but signs continue to point in that direction. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox could also hang up his cleats in the near future.

The latter is expected by many to retire at some point this offseason, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports. Cox has faced an uncertain future on a few occasions during the waning stages of his Eagles tenure. He was temporarily released in a cost-cutting move in 2022 before re-joining the team on a new deal. The 33-year-old faced the possibility of departing in free agency last year, but he again elected to remain in Philadelphia.

Cox turned down outside offers to ink a one-year, $10MM Eagles contract in 2023. The structure of that pact has him in line to carry a $5.7MM cap hit in 2024 and a $10.1MM hit the following season. A post-June 1 release would yield minimal cap savings this year, but it would be necessary to avoid a $14.3MM dead cap charge by moving on from Cox without the post-June 1 designation. A new contract could, of course, be in the cards should the six-time Pro Bowler elect to continue playing.

Cox remained a full-time starter in the 2023 season, his 12th with the team; he racked up five sacks, 17 QB hits and 28 pressures. Those figures were in line with (or better than) those of recent seasons, meaning he could continue to produce if he remained in place for another campaign. In the event he hung up his cleats, though, Philadelphia would have successors in place. Over the past two years, the team has invested a first-round pick in a Georgia D-lineman (Jordan Davis in 2022, Jalen Carter in 2023).

Those two would be in line for an increase in their respective workloads from last season – 45% and 51% – if Cox were to retire. Such a development would (presuming Kelce follows through with his reported decision) leave the Eagles without a mainstay on each side of the ball. Both right tackle Lane Johnson and defensive end Brandon Graham intend to play in 2024, but it will be interesting to see if Cox is once again alongside them. If the latter does elect to end his career, he will exit the game with a Super Bowl ring and more than $128MM in earnings.

Eagles’ Lane Johnson, Brandon Graham Intend To Play In 2024

Following last night’s disappointing playoff loss, we learned that at least one Eagles star was calling it career. Fortunately for the organization, a pair of veterans made it clear that they’ll be sticking around for 2024. Defensive end Brandon Graham and offensive lineman Lane Johnson told reporters that they intend to play next season, per Zach Berman of PHLY.

[RELATED: Eagles C Jason Kelce To Retire]

After spending the past 14 years in Philly, it was unclear if 2023 would be the final season of Graham’s career. While the 35-year-old didn’t come close to replicating his 11-sack campaign from 2022, he still finished the season having compiled 16 tackles, three sacks, and six QB hits. While the counting stats were down, Pro Football Focus ranked Graham 17th among 118 qualifying edge defenders.

Graham has continued to re-sign with the Eagles on short-term deals, and it sounds like he intends to stick around for at least one more season.

“I still feel like I got a little bit of juice,” Graham told reporters (h/t SPORTSRADIO 94WIP on X). “I really just want to have this one be [season No.] 15, farewell tour, call it a day, and move up in the organization and go upstairs and do that part on serving the guys. Keep building this thing.”

Johnson earned his third-straight All-Pro nod in 2023, and he managed to get into 16 games for the first time since the 2015 season. Despite the 2023 campaign marking his age-33 season, Johnson still managed to rank 11th among 83 qualifying offensive tackles, per Pro Football Focus. While Graham hinted at one more year, it sounds like Johnson could be sticking around the NFL for a few more years.

“I plan on finishing my career strong,” Johnson said (via Berman). “I think I have a few good years left and I’m going to take it to the limit.”

We learned this morning that center Jason Kelce was calling it career. As Berman notes, it’s uncertain whether long-time Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox will be back for the 2024 campaign.

Injury Notes: Clark, Dulcich, Eagles

Frank Clark will be sidelined for a few weeks. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Broncos defensive end will miss “a couple weeks” after suffering a hip injury during yesterday’s practice.

Fortunately, it doesn’t sound like this is a long-term issue, and there’s been no indication that Clark will land on injured reserve. Per Rapoport, the veteran is considered week-to-week.

The former Pro Bowler was cut by the Broncos back in March before eventually landing in Denver. As Troy Renck of Denver7 notes, Clark has struggled to establish a role in Denver, with the 30-year-old serving as a situational pass rusher during the season opener. Clark finished that contest with a pair of tackles while appearing in 25 defensive snaps.

This comes with Baron Browning sitting on PUP, so Clark’s role could be made even more uncertain when his teammate returns. A few weeks off the field probably won’t help his case for a significant role in Denver.

2022 ended Clark’s three-year stretch of earning Pro Bowl nods, but he was still productive with the Chiefs. In 15 games, the pass rusher compiled 39 tackles and five sacks. He showed up during Kansas City’s run to a Super Bowl championship, collecting another seven tackles and 2.5 sacks in three games.

More injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Greg Dulcich is once again dealing with a hamstring injury. After missing seven games for the Broncos during the 2022 season, the tight end will once again miss multiple weeks while dealing with a hamstring injury in the same leg, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The organization intends to take it slow with Dulcich, meaning it could be a bit before he returns to the field. The 2022 third-round pick finished his rookie campaign with 33 catches for 411 yards and two touchdowns.
  • A trio of Eagles players were ruled out early for Thursday Night Football. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported yesterday that running back Kenneth Gainwell (ribs), cornerback James Bradberry (concussion), and safety Reed Blankenship (ribs) would all be sidelined for Philly’s Week 2 matchup against the Vikings. The Eagles did get some good news, however, with defensive tackle Fletcher Cox being declared active for tonight’s game after being listed as questionable with a rib injury.
  • Rams wideout Puka Nacua didn’t practice today thanks to an oblique injury, according to Schefter. The rookie fifth-round pick was a standout during his NFL debut, garnering 15 targets from Matthew Stafford. Nacua ultimately finished the contest with 10 catches for 119 yards. With Cooper Kupp sidelined, the Rams may need to dig into their wide receiver depth against the 49ers.
  • Patriots cornerback Jack Jones landed on injured reserve before the season opener, keeping him off the field for at least the first month of the season. Per Albert Breer of TheMMQB, the 2022 fourth-round pick has an injury split in his contract, meaning the organization can lower Jones’ base salary from $870K to $475K as long as he sits on IR. That ends up being a loss of $22K per week for Jones.

Eagles To Re-Sign DT Fletcher Cox

Fletcher Cox is returning to Philly. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the veteran defensive tackle is returning to the Eagles.

Cox is inking a new one-year, $10MM deal with the Eagles. Schefter notes that the player turned down more lucrative offers elsewhere and took a “hometown discount” to stick around Philadelphia.

The 2012 first-round pick has spent his entire career with the Eagles, making six Pro Bowl appearances and earning four All-Pro nods. The Eagles actually released him last offseason to avoid paying him $18MM in guaranteed money, but the veteran ended up quickly re-signing with the team on a one-year deal. He earned $14MM in 2022, so he’ll be taking a slight pay cut for the 2023 campaign.

Cox is two years removed from his last Pro Bowl appearance but is still a productive member of the Eagles defense. He finished last season having started all 17 games, compiling 43 tackles and seven sacks. The 32-year-old got into all three postseason games for Philly, as well, adding another six tackles and one sack. He only finished last season as Pro Football Focus’ 67th interior defender (among 127 qualifiers), the first time he’s finished outside the top-30 at his position since 2013.

Even with the reduced production, the Eagles were surely more than happy to welcome Cox back. The defending NFC Champions have lost a number of defenders during the early stages of free agency, including defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, linebacker T.J. Edwards, safety Marcus Epps, and linebacker Kyzir White.

As Schefter noted in his initial report, Cox turned down more lucrative offers from other suitors. One team that reached out to Cox was the New York Jets, per ESPN’s Dianna Russini (on Twitter).

Eagles Rumors: Dickerson, Berry, Free Agents

In a pileup during the Eagles’ NFC Championship win over the 49ers, guard Landon Dickerson suffered a hyperextension of his right elbow in the fourth quarter and was forced to leave the game. After an MRI of the injury came back negative for any serious damage, it is expected that Dickerson will be able play in the Super Bowl next Sunday, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Dickerson will likely need to wear a brace on the injured elbow through practices and probably in the big game, as well. The Eagles subbed in former first-round pick Andre Dillard when Dickerson was forced to exit last week. Dillard will presumably be prepared once again, in the event that Dickerson aggravates the injury any time before the final whistle of the season.

Here are a few more rumors concerning the NFC’s Super Bowl representatives:

  • Philadelphia is expecting to make an addition to their front office after the season, according to The Athletic’s Zach Berman. Following the 2023 NFL Draft, Adam Berry is expected to be joining the team, working with the personnel and operations departments. Berry, the twin brother of Browns general manager and executive vice president of football operations Andrew Berry, is a managing director at Goldman Sachs who will be making the leap to the NFL. His brother, Andrew, has been with the Browns for six of the past seven years with a one-year stint in Philadelphia as the vice president of football operations. Berry will join his brother’s former franchise and “will be learning all facets of…football operations.”
  • Win or lose, after this weekend the Eagles will have to turn towards next season, where there’s a chance the team will look vastly different than it currently does. Starters such as defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, defensive end Brandon Graham, and center Jason Kelce all are currently destined for free agency in the offseason, and veteran right tackle Lane Johnson could be mulling the decision to hang up his cleats. McLane seemed to imply in his recent report that the likeliest scenario in which these four aren’t Eagles next season would be if they all retire. He seems to believe that, if they all desire to return to Philadelphia, the team will make it happen.

Nine Teams Gain Cap Space From Post-June 1 Cuts

Although early June no longer serves as a stretch in which a wave of veterans are released for cap-saving purposes, June 2 still serves as an important calendar date for certain teams annually. Nine teams qualify as beneficiaries this year.

Eleven players were designated as post-June 1 cuts this year, via CBS Sports’ Joel Corry. Due to a longstanding CBA provision, teams that designate players as post-June 1 releases see the dead-money burden lessened for that year. Teams can designate up to two players as post-June 1 releases each year.

Here are 2022’s post-June 1 cuts, along with the belated cap savings the teams picked up Thursday:

Arizona Cardinals

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Las Vegas Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

As detailed in PFR’s glossary, post-June 1 cuts spread dead-money hits over two years. These teams will be taking on dead money this year and next. A few of the 2023 hits are substantial, but the league’s cap-space hierarchy changed significantly Thursday as well.

Because of multiple restructures, Raiders will carry $9.9MM in Littleton dead money next year. The Cowboys will take on $8.7MM in 2023 for cutting Collins, while the Titans will be hit with $8.4MM for their Jones release. Cleveland, which just gave David Njoku a $14.2MM-per-year deal, will carry a $7.5MM dead-money cost next year due to shedding Hooper’s eight-figure-AAV deal early. The Eagles will be tagged with $11.5MM for their Cox cut, with Corry noting that is the net difference because of a $3.2MM salary cap credit regarding Cox’s 2022 bonus proration. Philadelphia re-signed the perennial Pro Bowler on a one-year, $14MM deal.

Hooper’s release pushes Cleveland’s cap space to beyond $40MM; the Browns’ overall cap-space edge is now a whopping $15MM. That should help the team address multiple needs ahead of training camp. Other teams have more options now, too. As of Thursday, the Raiders hold the NFL’s third-most cap space ($22.5MM, per OverTheCap). The $10MM the Cowboys saved moves them up to fourth in cap space ($22.49MM), while the Bears ($22.2MM), Commanders ($18.4MM) and Seahawks ($17MM) now sit fifth, sixth and seventh.

A handful of this year’s post-June 1 cut crop joined Cox in taking advantage of the modern setup, which allows these cap casualties to become free agents immediately — rather than waiting until June to hit the market. In place since the 2006 CBA, this adjustment let veterans loose early while keeping their cap figures on teams’ payrolls through May. Collins quickly joined the Bengals, while Littleton landed with the Panthers, Hooper signed with the Titans, and Phillips returned to the Bills. The remainder of this group remains unsigned. The savings this lot of teams inherited Thursday may help some of these players’ causes in free agency.

Eagles Notes: Cox, Lurie, Kirk

The Eagles released longtime DT Fletcher Cox last month to avoid having $18MM of what he was due under his prior contract becoming fully-guaranteed. The club then re-signed him to a one-year, $14MM contract several days later, which, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, is “real” (meaning that Cox will actually earn that money and that the $14MM figure is not inflated by incentives). However, the deal does include two void years to flatten the cap charge, which was especially important since the release already created considerable dead money on the Eagles’ books for the 2022-23 seasons.

Even though Cox is coming off a season in which his play showed noticeable signs of decline and in which he publicly complained about the club’s defensive scheme, his $14MM payout is still $4MM more than what any other free agent interior D-lineman received on a per-year basis this offseason. That has led to plenty of questions about why the Eagles authorized such a contract, but owner Jeffrey Lurie suggested other clubs were willing to pony up for the six-time Pro Bowler, thereby necessitating the financial outlay.

McLane reports that the Eagles did call at least three teams in March to discuss a Cox trade, but just like their in-season trade talks in 2021, the more recent discussions were undermined by Cox’s prior contract and GM Howie Roseman‘s high asking price.

Now for more out of Philadelphia:

  • In the same piece linked above, McLane details the growing role of Lurie’s son, Julian Lurie, within the organization. Now 26, the younger Lurie participated in the NFL’s two-year program for prospective executives upon his graduation from Harvard, he took part in the Eagles’ head coaching interviews in 2021 — ultimately advising his father as the team transitioned from Doug Pederson to Nick Sirianni — and even spearheaded the interviews for the team’s analytics department. Assuming he wants to take up the mantle, it seems that Julian Lurie will someday succeed his 70-year-old father at the top of the franchise.
  • In a piece exploring whether Jeffrey Lurie is too involved in his team’s personnel decisions, which will be of particular interest to Eagles fans, McLane reports that, in 2018, the team was prepared to select one of two receivers in the second round: Ohio State’s Parris Campbell or Stanford’s JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Roseman and then-VP of player personnel Joe Douglas wanted Campbell, but Lurie preferred Arcega-Whiteside, and after Lurie successfully curried Pederson’s support, Roseman and Douglas felt compelled to go along with their wishes. That has led to broader questions about whether Lurie really values Roseman as a GM as much as he says he does, or if he simply likes that he can use Roseman as a “conduit” to the team.
  • The Eagles have not yet acquired a cornerback this offseason, and while Sirianni hyped the unproven contingent of players behind CB1 Darius Slay on the current depth chart — a group that includes Zech McPhearson and Tay Gowan — McLane says the team will almost certainly add a CB or two at some point. The Eagles will hold a “30” visit with top CB prospect Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, and while Gardner may be off the board by the time Philadelphia is on the clock with its No. 15 overall pick, a player like Washington’s Trent McDuffie or LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. could be an option should Roseman decide to select a first-round corner for the first time in his history as a GM.
  • The Eagles have taken some swings at high-profile FA targets this offseason but have mostly come up short (with all due apologies to Haason Reddick and Zach Pascal). In addition to his pursuit of receivers like Allen Robinson and Robert Woods, Roseman also made an offer to former Cardinals wideout Christian Kirk, as McLane writes in a separate article. Kirk, though, received a four-year, $72MM deal from the Jaguars, a move that many have decried as more desperate spending on the part of Jacksonville. Though Kirk would doubtlessly have been an asset to Philadelphia’s WR corps, his $18MM AAV presently looks like an overpay.