As far as silly terms go, "legal tampering" has to be up there.
It's the term used in NFL circles for when teams may begin contacting and negotiating with pending free agents from other teams. Negotiations are permitted but deals can't fully be agreed upon, but they always are. Tampering is a hard thing to prove and all these teams and agents were just together for the combine in Indianapolis. (Spoiler: there was tampering going on.)
But, technically, the legal tampering period begins on Monday at noon EST. It's a two-day head start before the new league year and free agency begins at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
Without factoring in Brandon Graham's new deal or the $7.2 million saved by trading Michael Bennett, the Eagles had about $19.7 million in cap space. So they're expected to have over $20 million when free agency kicks off. Plenty of room to work with and they can make some more.
Here are five questions facing the Eagles as we begin this very busy and very important week:
Will Jason Peters be back?
This is probably the biggest question of the Eagles' offseason. Peters is 37 now and is set to have a cap hit of over $13 million if the Eagles exercise his option year in 2019. That's a lot of money for an aging offensive tackle who struggled to stay on the field last season. He left games pretty frequently, but Peters started all 16 regular season games and both in the playoffs in 2018. When he was on the field, he wasn't his former All-Pro self, but he was still pretty good. And if Peters isn't back, who is his replacement? Big V? Jordan Mailata?
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The Eagles and Peters' camp have been in contact recently, according to sources, but no agreement has been reached. Peters is the Eagles' longest-tenured player; he's been here since 2009.
Is Nelson Agholor on the move?
Last offseason, the Eagles exercised Agholor's fifth-year option, which will pay him around $9.4 million with a matching cap hit for 2019. That amount becomes guaranteed when the new league year starts at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Until then the Eagles have options. They have reportedly been open to trading Agholor, but I'm not sure how much return they would get. Agholor has been a solid player but $9.4 million is a steep salary.
I still think the Eagles should try to extend Agholor if he would be agreeable. He's still young, talented and they could try to alleviate some of his cap hit for the 2019 season.
Who will they keep?
Howie Roseman, at the combine a couple weeks ago, said the Eagles' priority was to give their own players top-of-the-market deals and then supplement that with free agency. They already gave out an extension to pending free agent Brandon Graham and then gave out a preemptive extension to Isaac Seumalo a year early. Among the Eagles' top pending free agents are Ronald Darby, Jordan Hicks, Mike Wallace and Golden Tate.
I think there's a chance Darby and/or Hicks could be back for the right price. Darby is coming off an ACL tear and Hicks' value to be hurt because of his injury history.
Who will they bring in?
Like we mentioned, the Eagles will have enough cap room to make some moves, but they might not have enough to really battle it out with teams who have $50 million-plus and there are a few teams in that situation. The positions of need for the Eagles seem to be running back, speed receiver, defensive line and possibly linebacker. The top two names on my mind are RB Tevin Coleman and WR John Brown. Maybe DeSean Jackson is even back in play for them (see story).
In free agency, Roseman has talked about the idea of shopping for second-tier free agents. I think that trend continues.
What level tender for Sudfeld?
The Eagles have made it clear they don't just want to hand over the backup job to Nate Sudfeld, so it's possible they bring in a veteran backup. But they have a decision to make on Sudfeld too. He's a restricted free agent, so if they want to keep him (they do), they'll need to tender him. They will either use an original-round tender or a second-round tender. My guess is the second-round tender. It would give Sudfeld a contract of just over $3 million and would mean any team that wanted to sign him would need to give up a second-round pick. It basically tells other teams "hands off!"
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