Says NFL guru John Clayton:
Eagles big boss Howie Roseman has been one of the most active NFL front office executives in the trade market over the last couple of years. His wheeling and dealing allowed the Eagles to move up in the 2016 draft to take quarterback Carson Wentz with the second overall pick.
As arguably the NFL’s best dual-threat running back, Bell would add a dimension to Philadelphia’s backfield that doesn’t exist with Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, and Darren Sproles. Getting Bell out of the AFC in a trade might also be appealing to Pittsburgh.
A team must have enough salary cap room to absorb a player’s current salary in order to make a trade.
The Eagles have just over $3.775 million of salary cap room according to NFLPA data. That’s not nearly enough to accommodate the $9.41 million Bell would make under his franchise tag assuming a Week 7 trade. Slightly more than $5.625 million of extra cap space is needed.
Finding a taker for Super Bowl LI MVP Nick Foles would create enough cap room for Bell. Foles doesn’t have the same value as an insurance policy for the Eagles with Wentz returning to the starting lineup two games ago after tearing multiple ligaments in his left knee late last season. Trading Foles in Week 7 would free up just under $6.6 million of 2018 cap space. The Eagles would be approximately $950,000 under the cap with Bell coming on board. $18.8 million of 2019 cap room would be gained by getting Foles’ $20.6 million 2019 cap number off of Philadelphia’s books with a trade.
Unfortunately for Philadelphia, there isn’t an obvious landing spot for Foles since the 49ers appear to have confidence in backup quarterback C.J. Beathard taking over for Jimmy Garoppolo, who’s out for the season with a torn ACL. The Eagles reportedly turned down a second round pick from the Cleveland Browns for Foles early in the offseason.
Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox is the most logical contract restructure candidate for cap room. His $17.9 million cap number is the largest on the team.
Offensive guard Brandon Brooks, tight end Zach Ertz, safety Malcolm Jenkins, and offensive tackle Lane Johnson have already created cap room by restructuring.
Lowering Cox’s $11.5 million base salary to just under $800,000 and releasing a player at the back end of the roster would give the Eagles approximately $5.85 million of additional cap room. That’s barely enough for Bell. The Eagles would have the second tightest cap situation in the NFL behind the Vikings with a just over $200,000 of space.
Cox’s remaining contract years, 2019 through 2022, would each increase by $1.385 million in the restructure. His $22 million 2019 cap number would become $23.385 million. Cox would have the second largest 2019 cap number for a defensive player. His is currently third: