Eagles: Looking ahead to notable pending free agents in 2022

The Philadelphia Eagles are knee deep in offseason preparation, with OTAs coming and going and training camp on the horizon. But it’s never too early to look ahead to next offseason and see which Eagle players could hit the open market.

The team has several marquee players set to become free agents next offseason. From homegrown talent like Brandon Graham and Jason Kelce, to free agents signed just this year like Anthony Harris and Ryan Kerrigan.

Let’s take a look at the most notable pending free agent for the Eagles and how likely it is that they remain with the team.

Brandon Graham — UFA

When Graham signed his contract extension with the Eagles, it was essentially a one-year deal with the next two years being voids. The lifelong Eagle is coming off a career year, posting a career high in sacks with eight.

While he did peak in sack production, the team likely brought him back mostly for his leadership and locker room presence. He’ll be 33 at the end of this season, and the Eagles will have Josh Sweat and Derek Barnett set to become free agents as well. Graham feels like a career-long Eagle and someone who will retire with the team, but if his production falls off a cliff this season, we shouldn’t be shocked if the front office prioritizes the younger talent at defensive end.

Jason Kelce — UFA

This feels like the final season for Kelce. His contract from 2022-2025 will void prior to the 2022 league year, leaving $15 million in dead cap.

Typically, the same contract rules apply for releasing a player and said player retiring. If Kelce files his paperwork for retirement post-June 1, the Eagles will save $1.5 million in cap and incur a dead cap hit of about $4.5 million.

Kelce would be 34 years old heading into next season if he were to return. For someone who’s flirted with retirement numerous times throughout the years, I’d be pretty surprised if he elected to return. This contract has “I’m playing one more year then hanging it up” written all over it.

Rodney McLeod — UFA

McLeod will need to put forth an outstanding year in 2021 for the team to consider bringing him back next season. He is the defensive leader, but at 32 years old next year with a handful of injuries under his belt, Howie Roseman may look to get younger at the position.

If McLeod is willing to take a one or two year deal with a small cap hit, I wouldn’t be shocked if he returned. He’s shown the willingness to take less money to stay in Philly throughout his tenure here.

Derek Barnett — UFA

The team picked up Barnett’s fifth-year option because they see his potential. While he’s yet to reach eight or more sacks in a season, he has shown flashes of his pass rushing ability. If Barnett comes out and has a career year in 2021, he’ll be first in line for a nice contract extension. Somewhere in the ball park for four years, $35-40 million I would assume.

Dallas Goedert — UFA

After Barnett, Dallas Goedert will be next in line for a contract extension next offseason. With Zach Ertz presumably gone, Goedert will be the TE1 and could be in for a breakout campaign.

When speaking with the media, Goedert hinted that an extension is in the works. It wouldn’t make sense to franchise tag him, so getting a deal done prior to the start of the upcoming season should be one of the team’s top priorities.

Anthony Harris — UFA

After signing a one-year deal this offseason, Harris is clearly betting on himself to have a big 2021 campaign. He was one of the best coverage safeties in the NFL from 2018-2019, totaling nine interceptions during that time and averaged a PFF coverage grade of 89.35.

If he has a big season under Jonathan Gannon, he could get a nice extension from the team. He’d be 30 years old heading into next season, so he’s a bit younger than McLeod, and it would be wise to keep at least one veteran at the safety position moving forward.

Eric Wilson — UFA

The Eagles handed out a lot of one-year deals during free agency this offseason. It’s a good strategy in terms of filling immediate holes in an effort compete right away, and in the Eagles’ case, they didn’t really have the cap room to sign anyone to long-term contracts. Wilson was one of the many free agents signed to a one-year deal and he’s probably one of the most likely to get re-signed next offseason.

At just 26 years old with 24 career starts under his belt, Wilson is in the prime of his career and coming off his best outing to date. The team saw the potential he has, especially playing in a defensive system like Jonathan Gannon’s where he’ll be allowed to play aggressively — which is one of his core strengths.

If Wilson comes out and proves that last year wasn’t just a flash in the pan, he could be in for a nice payday next offseason.

Ryan Kerrigan — UFA

At 33 years old, Kerrigan will likely only spend one year here in Philly. He’ll be a nice rotational piece along the defensive line, but I’m not sure the team can justify bringing him back with Barnett, Sweat, and Graham all set to hit free agency next offseason.

Josh Sweat — UFA

After last season, Josh Sweat’s stock is at an all-time high and he could land himself a really nice contract next year if he continues to develop.

While playing just 38 percent of the defensive snaps in 2020, Sweat recorded six sacks, nine tackles for loss, and 12 quarterback hits. He’s steadily developed his game each of his three NFL seasons, and at 24 years old, he’s only going to get better.

If Sweat can develop in his run stuffing ability, while continuing to be a force as a pass rusher, he’ll be one of the most valuable assets along the Eagles defensive line heading into next season.

Avonte Maddox — UFA

This is a make or break year for Avonte Maddox. It’s still unclear where exactly he fits into Gannon’s defense. But regardless of where he plays, he’ll need to have a career year for the team to hand him an extension.

As it stands now, it looks like he may get time on the outside once again, even though he was one of the worst outside corner in football last season. Ideally, he slots in as the starting nickel corner, which fits his skill set much more than that of an outside guy.

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