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Eagles have nearly no choice but to shed Jason Kelce, Ryan Mathews

The Eagles' salary cap situation is not pretty right now.
The Eagles must find a way to get under the salary cap.Getty Images

The Eagles are scheduled to owe their players $182.6 million in 2017 — not including this week's signings of Chris Long and Patrick Robinson.

That seems like a lot — and it is — especially considering the NFL's salary cap is $179.5 million for the Eagles and their spending spree seems to show no signs of slowing down (according to numbers from spotrac.com).

Estimates have Long's contract around $2.4 million — though the structure is not clear — and Robinson's around $1 million. That puts the Eagles even further behind the mark.

Philly will have to do something. Two recent instances have seen the Steelers and 49ers penalized draft picks for failing to be under the cap.

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According to the complicated details of the most recent collective bargaining agreement, NFL teams do have the ability to spread out the remaining cap hits of any players cut after June 1 for two or three years subsequently — which is no doubt a strategy Philly will utilize.

First, lets look at the cause of the lack of cap space. The Eagles have gone through some regime change in recent years as the Chip Kelly era is now almostcompletely in the rearview. One of the lingering consequences of Kelly's reign terror is that the Doug Pederson-Howie Roseman era had to shed some unfavorable players for a new scheme.

This leaves over $14 million in dead cap money — money the Eagles are paying players to not play for them. The four worst hits Philly is taking come from Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel, Connor Barwin and Eric Rowe, all combining to cost the Eagles $13.1 million next season. Daniel's new contract with the Saints could add a little relief, but it won't be enough.

They have also added some big ticket items this offseason like wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. The releases of Barwin, Danieland Leodis McKelvin just weren't enough.The Eagles need to make up some ground and they'll need to cut more players.

Jason Kelce

The most logical target for the ax is Pro Bowl center Jason Kelce, but Pederson said he expected Kelce to stay with the team and to be the starter in September. Cutting Kelce would open up $3.8 million in cap space. His removal from the team could work as Chase Warmack can start at guard, moving promising young lineman Isaac Seumalo to center. The team also re-signed versatile Stephen Wisnewski to return.

Ryan Mathews

Mathews had offseason herniated disk surgery and according to the NFL's bylaws, cutting him right away could be tricky. The team does not want to be on the hook for a multimillion dollar injury settlement. However, when healthy he could be cut. Philly has been connected to a bevy of running backs in the upcoming draft.Mathews will count for $5 million against the salary cap, $4 million of which the Eagles can save if they trade or cut him.

Mychal Kendricks

Unfortunately, the odd man out in the Eagles linebacks room Kendricks won't be so easy to move on from. Despite the fact that he was rarely used in 2016 and doesn't quite fit into Jim Schwartz' defense, the fifth year pro is due $6.6 million in 2017 and has a cap hit of more than $9 million. The team can get out of his contract for $3.2 million after one more season. They'll try and trade him but he might be stuck here for one more season.

Jason Peters

Peters is the Eagles' last hope to save money. There is no chance the future Hall of Fame left tackle will be cut, but his cap hit is only $2 million against an $11.2 million salary. Meaning that releasing him would open up $9.2million and solve all of the Eagles' woes. Would the 35-year-old be willing to restructure his deal, which has one more year left after 2017?

 
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