After an impressive flurry of moves over the last month the Eagles’ needs are nowhere near as long as they used to be.
They have reinforcements on the defensive line. They have linebackers with high upside. They have their WR1. They have their CB2.
Now, the only glaring need remaining on the roster is safety — and there might be an excellent answer for that problem as well.
Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates is currently under the franchise tag, but he isn’t showing up for work, and it seems he won’t be happy at all about playing this season on the franchise tag. It is easy to see why Bates wouldn’t be thrilled about playing on the franchise tag. With 408 tackles, 10 interceptions, 35 pass deflections and two forced fumbles in four seasons, Bates should cash in as one of the top paid safeties in the league. He is just 25-years old, won’t be 26 until after this season, and only missed one game in his career, playing 99% of the team’s snaps in the first three seasons, and 95% in 2021.
Bates deserves to be paid and will likely play for any team willing to give him the big contract he has earned. Bates liking a post on Twitter about the Philadelphia Eagles has only added fuel to the fire that he wants out of Cincinnati, and perhaps, wants to fill the need the Eagles have at safety.
Can Howie Roseman make yet another big addition this offseason?
The short answer is simple — yes.
Armed with a treasure chest of draft picks, there aren’t many teams that can outbid Roseman should he decide he wants Bates. After showing interest in the top safeties on the market this offseason, and a willingness to pay, it is safe to say Roseman is monitoring Bates’ situation and is ready to make a move if there is one to be made. It is unlikely the Eagles would give up a first-round pick for Bates, but having two first-round picks in 2023 could make them more willing to give up a second-round pick, which would likely get the deal done. The Eagles depth along the offensive line should also help them make a deal with the Bengals, who are in desperate need of offensive line help.
Financially, the deal isn’t as easy.
The contract for Bates isn’t the issue. He is just 25-years old and is the exact type of player that fits the kind of contracts the Eagles like to hand out — huge signing bonus, small cap hit now and big caps hits later. The Eagles, if they acquired Bates, would make him one of the highest paid safeties in the league and his cap hit for 2022 would likely be around $5 million — a win-win for both sides.
The issue is fitting even that $5 million under the cap.
Bates’ franchise tag is $12.9 million. The Eagles only have around $7-8 million. They will have to open up around $5 million just to acquire Bates. That doesn’t sound hard, and Roseman could like get it done, but the Eagles don’t have much cap flexibility. The Eagles currently only have three players who make over $5.6 million in base salary — Isaac Seumalo, Lane Johnson and Javon Hargrave. Hargrave’s $12.75 million base salary seems to be the perfect option, but the fact the Eagles haven’t done it yet makes you wonder if they want to commit to Hargrave beyond 2022. Seumalo would seem the perfect option — trading Seumalo would open $5.6 million in cap space, the amount the Eagles need, while also helping to complete the trade.
Even after the deal the Eagles cap space would be tight. The team usually likes to have around $10 million in salary cap space to work with. That would be short of that if they acquired and signed Bates. Bringing in Bates would require some serious cap maneuvering from Roseman.
Landing Bates, however, would make this defense considerably better. The Eagles have spent big money this offseason. They have a roster ready to win now. Leaving glaring holes at safety could end up really hurting the defense. Bates not only helps fix that problem in a major way right now, but can be the answer at safety for years to come.
After so many expensive moves this offseason, it would be hard to blame Roseman for sitting this one out.
Roseman, however, is always open to making a big deal — and Bates seems the perfect next move for this team to make.
You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org