Philadelphia Daily News from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 9, 2015 · Page 61
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Philadelphia Daily News from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania · Page 61

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Monday, March 9, 2015
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Continued from Preceding Page ally appears to be deeper than previous ones, particularly at some of the Eagles' positions of need such as cornerback, edge rusher and interior offensive line. The reason: With the increase in the cap giving so many teams so much additional cap room, agents have been encouraging their clients to test the market. "If I were an agent, it would take a hell of an offer from a team for me to sign before hitting free agency," Banner said. "Because there's just going to be so much money that you're going to be surprised at the sizes of the contracts. You're going to look at players who are just decent and see them get money that's going to really surprise you. "We saw it last year with guys like Jairus Byrd getting $9 million per year. It wasn't that long ago that people would have thought paying a safety $9 million a year was crazy. But the increases in the cap combined with the decreases in the rookie pool money has made that kind of thing plausible." Cornerback Aqib Talib, boasting a lot of talent but a checkered off-the-field history, signed a 6-year, $57 million deal, including $25.5 million in guarantees, with the Broncos on the first day of free agency last year. He is among 10 corners in the league with a contract average of at least $9.5 million a year. Assuming the reported details of Maxwell's deal are correct, he will become just the fifth corner in the league with a contract average of more than $10 million ($10.8 million), behind the Patriots' Darrelle Revis ($16M), the Cardinals' Patrick Peterson ($14.01M), the Sea-hawks' Richard Sherman ($14M) and the Browns' Joe Haden ($13.5M). The $25 million in guaranteed money Maxwell will reportedly receive would put him fifth behind Peterson ($47.4M), Sherman ($40M), the Cowboys' Brandon Carr ($25.5M) and Talib. Not bad for a former sixth-round pick who had started just five NFL games before last season. The proportion of guaranteed money given to players has skyrock- TEAM NEEDS Daily Newsfootball columnist Paul Do-mowitch lists the top needs of each team going into free agency, along with its salary cap situation: NFC EAST Estimated Cap Space Top Needs (in millions) Eagles CB,S, OLB $45.1 (5) Cowboys DE, RT, CB $3.3 (29) Redskins S, OL, DL $24.9 (15) Giants S.OL.DE $13.2 (22) NFC NORTH Bears OLB, DL,S$32.0 (11) Lions DT,OT,RB$17.6(19) Packers I LB, DT.TE $33.1 (9) Vikings G.WR.CB $24.8 (16) NFC SOUTH Falcons DE, LB, OT $32.9 (10) Panthers OT, WR, CB $17.4 (20) Saints CB, DE.OL $-15.8 (32) BucsQB.OT, MLB $34.0 (8) NFC WEST Cardinals ILB, OLB, RB $21.7 (17) RamsOL,LB,CB$3.5(28) 49ersWR,OL,DE$11.3 (24) Seahawks WR, TE, DT $25.1 (14) AFC EAST Bills OL, LB, DE $16.9 (21) Dolphins G.RB.CB $9.6 (25) Patriots G, DT, LBDE $-4.2 (31) Jets CB.QB, OLB $38.8(7) AFC NORTH Ravens CB, WR, OLB $3.6 (27) Bengals DL.OT LB $31.3 (12) Browns WR, DT, ILB $49.8 (3) SteelersCB,OLB,S$7.9(26) AFC SOUTH Texans QB, LB, WR $12.0 (23) Colts DL,S, RB $39.5 (6) Jaguars DE.OTS $68.8(1) Titans OLB, OT, CB $46.9 (4) AFC WEST Broncos OTS.TE $20.1(18) Chiefs WR,G, ILB $-1.7 (30) Raiders WR, INT OL, DE $63.6 (2) Chargers RB, INT OL, OLB $26.8 (13) (Source of cap space estimates: spotrac.com) eted in recent years. It's up to nearly 45 percent. Ten years ago, it was in the high 20s. It is expected to take another healthy jump this year. Despite a history of injuries, nearly half of Byrd's 6-year, $54 million deal with the Saints last year was guaranteed. Another safety, T.J. Ward, had $14 million of the $22.5 million he received from the Broncos guaranteed. Many fans think free agency isn't as much of a crap shoot as the draft because you're dealing with players that, in most cases, already have had some level of success in the league. But that hasn't been the case. For a number of reasons, a player might thrive in one system but not another. Or he might be closer to the downside of his career than his new team realized. Many just aren't the same player after a team shows them the money. "Most of the really good players in the league care about money, just like you do and I do and everybody else does," Banner said. "But that's not what primarily drives them. So you really want to try hard to hit on guys in free agency that you feel won't be overly focused on the money. You want to do your research and make sure that you're not getting a guy that once he gets the check won't be the same player." When Banner was with the Eagles, the team did a study comparing the success rate of players in the first 2 rounds of the draft with veterans who signed in the first 3 to 5 days of free agency. The gauge they used was whether the player started for at least 3 years after signing. According to Banner, the leaguewide success rate for both first- and second-rounders and top-tier free agents was almost the same: about 44 percent. But the repercussions for guessing wrong on a first- or second-tier free agent are much more severe than for guessing wrong on an early-round draft pick. "If you miss on a draft pick, hopefully you hit on another guy in the later rounds to make up for it," Banner said. "Either way, you move on. "With a high-priced free agent, the consequences as far as carrying the guy who's a weak player andor cutting him and then having to eat all of that dead money is much greater than missing on a draft pick, even though the success rate is about the same." Pdomo Blog: eagletarian.com CHANGES Continued from Page 62 There is every indication that trend will continue, with the Eagles starting the "legal tampering" period with more than $45 million to spend. The Eagles are expected to stay aggressive, though their plan might have hit a bump with the Patriots retaining safety Devin Mc-Courty. According to NFL Network, McCourty signed a 5 year, $47.5 million deal. There wasn't much weekend news about Steelers pending free-agent outside linebacker Jason Worilds, but the Eagles are expected to bid there, as well, after jettisoning Trent Cole. Cole, by the way, continued his free-agent tour in Cleveland over the weekend. Maxwell will take one of the starting spots vacated by Cary Williams, who was released last week, and Bradley Fletcher, who is expected to hit free agency tomorrow. Maxwell has not staked out his own land mass, like Revis, but he's younger 27 vs. 30 this summer and he seems very well-versed in the man-press coverage the Eagles prefer. Maxwell, 6-1, 207, was a sixth-round draftee out of Clemson in 2011 who didn't become a starter until Brandon Browner was suspended in 2013, but he played so well, the Seahawks let both Browner and backup Walter Thurmond walk in the offseason. This past season, Maxwell was the member of the "Legion of Boom" who got the most business, with opponents reluctant to throw at Richard Sherman, but QBs averaged just an 81.1 passer rating against Maxwell. Maxwell, known as a sure tackier, talked publicly last week about what a good fit he would be in Philadelphia. In the end, the Eagles' most serious competition seemed to be the Seahawks, who didn't want to break up their group. Gore is more of a surprise. He is the 49ers' all-time leading rusher, with 11,073 yards on 2,442 carries, a total that includes eight 1,000-yard seasons. The 49ers, while transitioning to 2014 draftee Carlos Hyde as the workhorse, nonetheless seemed sensitive to the feelings of fans who didn't want to see No. 21 go, but given Gore's mileage and hard-charging style, the Eagles presumably guaranteed a lot more money than San Francisco had in mind. "Wow Frank Gore leaving our division," Rams defensive end Chris Long said. "Always had a great deal of respect for his game. Brings it every carry. Doesn't say much just plays." McCoy the all-time leading rusher for the franchise Gore is joining, tweeted about flying to Buffalo yesterday after agreeing to a deal worth as much as $40 million over 5 years, agent Drew Rosen-haus said. McCoy had only $1 million guaranteed remaining on his current contract, which ran through 2017. When the offseason began, it was widely assumed that the Eagles and McCoy might agree on a revision that would lower his $11,950 million cap number this year. But there is no way the team was going to guarantee another $26.5 million to a running back with 6 years of mileage on his odometer. McCoy has wanted a pay boost since he led the NFL in rushing in 2013 and set the franchise single-season record. Last offseason, then-GM Howie Roseman's take on this was unequivocal the Eagles signed McCoy to a deal that reflected his status as a premier NFL running back. You don't get extra money for doing what the contract envisioned you doing. So, even though Kelly See CHANGES Page 59 Monday, March 9, 2015 PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS Philly. CO- Page 61

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