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The 5 O’Clock Club: A peek ahead at the NFC East salary cap situation for 2019

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

Here’s part of the current 2019 estimate from OverTheCap.


The Eagles stand out as having the worst projected cap situation in the league. At the moment, they are projected to be $19.5m over the salary cap.

To make things more concerning for Eagles fans, Philly has about a half-dozen important players from the current squad that will be free agents after the season ends:

The Eagles used trades and free agency to successfully build a super bowl winning team in 2017, but left themselves with only 5 draft picks and a bare salary cap cupboard for 2018. Howie Roseman used some accounting tricks to keep the band together for one more season. You can see from the middle column that OTC estimates that the Eagles would be $25m over the salary cap if they signed enough players to reach the off-season 51-contract cap limit.

Through 5 weeks of this season (6 for the Eagles), it’s a bit too early to tell if Howie’s attempts to keep the championship squad intact was worth it, but the Eagles will almost certainly be forced by salary cap pressure to re-make the team in the 2019 offseason. Don’t be shocked to see Howie Roseman make some trades to part with some expensive veteran players this off season in return for 2019 draft picks.

Note: I wrote this article a week ago. On Thursday, with the Eagles needing to cover injuries (Jay Ajayi, etc), they took action to create some cap space.

Per a source with knowledge of the contract, the Eagles converted $8.19 million in remaining 2018 salary to a bonus that will prorate at $1.638 million per year through 2022. The net 2018 cap savings becomes $6.552 million.

Come next year, $14.67 million of Cox’s $15.6 million base salary becomes payable as an option bonus, reducing his base salary to $930,000. The device drops the cap number arising from the $14.67 million payment to $2.934 million per year, through 2023. The option bonus creates $11.736 million in cap space, with a net cap reduction (given the 2018 cap savings) of $10.098 million for 2019.

That’s a total cap savings over the next two years of $16.65 million. The cap dollars don’t disappear, however. The shifting of dollars increases Cox’s future cap numbers by $2.547 million in 2020, $5.247 million in 2021, and $5.247 million in 2022. It also adds one more contract year that will void, but that will carry a cap charge of $3.509 million. Add it all up, and that’s $16.55 million.

This is a pretty dramatic amount of cap space juggling — especially adding the void year at the end of the contract. This is a team that is desperately trying to reshuffle a lot of cap dollars.

The next question becomes: what will the Eagles do with the extra cap space? Some think it will be devoted to a trade for running back Le’Veon Bell or running back LeSean McCoy. It also can be used on a new deal for quarterback Carson Wentz. Or it can be automatically rolled over, if the Eagles decide not to use it.


The Giants available cap space, at first blush, looks fairly healthy at $22.6m, but upon closer inspection we see that the OverTheCap number for 2019 shows only 35 players under contract. By contrast, the Eagles show 40 players, and the Redskins show 49 — nearly a full roster!

In addition to carrying a $23.2m cap hit for the 38 year old Eli Manning in 2019, the Giants have some significant free agent issues to face.

Let’s toss out a few assumptions, and see what that means for the G-men

Even with this week’s release of Ereck Flowers, the Giants still have at least 4 key players who will be free agents at the end of this season, and the issue of replacing Flowers may still be problematic.

Let’s say for a moment that they manage to keep all of them. They would still have only 39 players under contract.

As far as the college draft goes, the Giants situation doesn’t look too bad for 2019; they have:

  • 1st round
  • 2nd round
  • 4th round
  • 4th round (compensatory pick expected)
  • 5th round
  • 6th round
  • Between 1 and 3 seventh-round picks (two are conditional picks from trades with Broncos, Rams and Vikings).

Let’s say the Giants manage to draft 5 players that make the roster. They would still need to sign 8 more players to make up the 53. These players would either need to be veteran free agents or undrafted college free agents.

That’s asking Dave Gettleman to get a lot of mileage out of $22m in cap space.


The Cowboys don’t appear on the partial chart above because they have a whopping $69.97m in cap space for 2019.

Part of the reason is that they currently have their premier pass rusher, Demarcus Lawrence (who has 5.5 sacks through the first 4 games), playing on the franchise tag. His $17m cap hit is unlikely to decrease in future years if he continues to collect sacks at a rate of more than one per game. He said this past off season that he planned to play great in ‘18 and then get paid.

While there are some recognizable names on the free agent list aside from Lawrence, there’s no one that the team absolutely positively has to re-sign.

Additionally, the Cowboys are likely to have 6 draft picks (they traded away, conditionally, their 6th round pick to the Bengals for Bene’ Benwikere).

For the first time since 2015, the Cowboys will have enough cap space available to retain their own free agents, sign their draft picks, and fill some holes in veteran free agency, but they will need to keep a bit in the cookie jar for players like Zeke Elliott and Dak Prescott, whom they will probably want to extend soon.


OTC estimates the Redskins will have $24.2m in cap space in 2019, but that is based on 49 contracts, one of the higher totals in the league.

The Redskins will have 6 of their ‘regular’ draft picks in 2019, having used the 6th round pick to select Adonis Alexander in the Supplemental Draft. In addition, the Redskins are widely expected to be awarded 4 compensatory picks as a result of the 2018 free agency period.

The team’s need to retain its own pending free agents will be limited. Fans have been focused for months on Preston Smith, Brandon Scherff and Jamison Crowder as the only three pending free agents likely to be priority signings, or to command large paychecks.

Of the three, only Scherff is widely accepted as a must-sign player. Smith’s inconsistency makes him appear to be as expendable in 2019 as Spencer Long and Trent Murphy were in 2018, and there’s a feeling that Trey Quinn may make be the replacement for Jamison Crowder.

So, while the Redskins won’t enjoy the large cap surplus that Jerry Jones will be able to go shopping with, the fact is, the ‘Skins team looks to be pretty stocked with talent at most key positions, with enough young developing players and draft capital to keep the team from regressing without having to spend big in free agency.

Still, if the team wants to create some room, there are opportunities. I wrote an article just last month discussing options for creating cap room. The three likeliest targets for trade or release are Josh Norman, Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. Moving on from even one of these players will have a significant cap benefit for the Redskins; making a move on two — or all three — of them would significantly change the Redskins cap situation for 2019 and 2020. Eric Schaffer continues to be a quiet achiever.


What should the Redskins do about Vernon Davis at the end of the season?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Keep him
    (261 votes)
  • 34%
    Cut him to save cap space
    (162 votes)
  • 8%
    Trade him
    (41 votes)
464 votes total Vote Now


What should the Redskins do about Jordan Reed at the end of the season?

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    Keep him
    (242 votes)
  • 12%
    Cut him for cap space
    (59 votes)
  • 34%
    Trade him
    (156 votes)
457 votes total Vote Now


What should the Redskins do about Josh Norman at the end of the season?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Keep him
    (37 votes)
  • 54%
    Cut him to save cap space
    (259 votes)
  • 37%
    Trade him
    (178 votes)
474 votes total Vote Now


How should Eagles fans feel about the salary cap situation the Philly franchise is facing?

This poll is closed

  • 48%
    Deeply concerned - when you’re $20m OVER the cap there are urgent problems needing immediate solutions
    (196 votes)
  • 35%
    Mildly concerned - cut a couple of players and restructure a contract or two and it’ll be alright. It’s all accounting tricks anyway
    (142 votes)
  • 16%
    Not concerned at all - Howie Roseman is a genius who can fix any roster or salary cap issue with some savvy trades and accounting magic
    (65 votes)
403 votes total Vote Now