Eagles’ Bizarre Release of Fletcher Cox Is Proof the NFL’s Salary Cap Rules Need to Be Changed

The Philadelphia Eagles have long been viewed as one of the more cap-savvy teams in the NFL. General manager Howie Roseman made a name for himself around the league for his complex contracts, negotiations, and restructures. Many Eagles fans like calling Roseman a “cap wizard.”

Thanks to Roseman (and a few other notable front offices around the NFL), the manipulation of cap space has become commonplace in the NFL. Teams constantly alter and restructure deals, using void years and dummy years to create cap space artificially.

It’s a norm in the NFL now. However, the Eagles’ latest move of releasing Pro Bowl DT Fletcher Cox is proof that change needs to occur.

The Eagles released Fletcher Cox and plan to sign him back … for cap purposes?

The move came out of nowhere. On a quiet Thursday morning, the Eagles announced they were cutting starting defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. There was no thank you message from the team’s social media pages, leaving many to believe something else was happening behind the scenes.

And that’s exactly what was going on. Howie Roseman had found a way to release Cox for cap purposes, only to move forward with the intention of signing him back. Current reports suggest the Eagles and Cox are working on a deal that will see Cox return to Philadelphia on a one-year deal.

Typically speaking, cutting a highly paid player in the middle of a multi-year deal (Cox signed a six-year/$102 million extension in 2017) would be disastrous for any front office. This should create loads of dead cap, worsening the Eagles’ immediate cap space. Add in the fact that Cox is planning to re-sign with Philly anyways, and it’s hard to see how this would do anything other than tank the Eagles’ cap.

However, due to restructures and weird bonus money designations, this string of moves actually creates cap space for Philadelphia. The current amount of cap relief the Eagles are getting isn’t exactly known — even cap experts are confused by how this is all working.

This move by the Eagles is proof the NFL needs to revisit its salary cap rules

Once upon a time, front offices were viewed as intelligent for maneuvering around tricky cap situations. However, here in 2022, things have gotten so out of hand that it all feels gimmicky.

The New Orleans Saints, for example, entered the offseason $70 million over the salary cap. Now, thanks to “restructured deals,” they’re in a prime position to land star quarterback Deshaun Watson. That shouldn’t be allowed to happen.

Regardless of how Howie Roseman orchestrated this Cox release, it’s clear the NFL needs to revisit how they approach salary cap rules. The salary cap doesn’t even exist anymore. Teams just restructure, cut players (just to re-sign them), and convert salary to bonus money to bend their way around the rules.

The NFL should adopt the MLB’s AAV rule

Eagles DT Fletcher Cox.
Fletcher Cox #91 | Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The solution to such a problem will frustrate general managers who like to spend recklessly in free agency. However, it’s the best way to level the playing field across the NFL.

The MLB recently adopted a new way to view contracts in their latest CBA agreement. Everything is done by AAV (annual average value). For example, if a player receives a five-year deal worth $100 million, his cap hit for each season will be $20 million, regardless of any back-loading, dummy years, or restructures.

Does this kill some of the excitement that comes with offseasons? Sure. However, the Eagles‘ latest shenanigans with Cox is proof things have gone too far. Front offices shouldn’t be able to cut and re-sign players just to “create” cap space. That makes zero sense.

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