Rodney McLeod sent out a tweet on Wednesday afternoon that got me thinking about the returning veterans on this Eagles team and maybe how some of them are thinking that maybe returning isn’t such a great idea.
The upcoming season has all the earmarks of a rebuild, with a new coaching staff of mostly 30-somethings, with the keys to an offense being turned over to a 22-year-old quarterback surrounded by receivers right around that same age, and a defense that has no true playmakers, at least none in a secondary that nobody seems to know yet what it will look like this year.
McLeod probably isn’t one of them. His options are limited after tearing an ACL on Dec. 13, which means he probably won’t be ready for any on-field activities until probably training camp at the earliest.
He has a salary cap hit of $5 million, and the Eagles aren’t likely to cut him, because it would involve more than $6M in dead money and they certainly won’t be able to trade him.
His tweet read: “Been counted out so many times, but I’m still here. I hope my journey inspires someone. Let the story continue.”
It could have simply been a celebration tweet for achieving a milestone in his ACL rehab. It certainly doesn’t sound like a good-bye.
There are players the Eagles could say good-bye to, and, in the process, perhaps recapture some goodwill from a fan base irate over the fact that GM Howie Roseman somehow survived another coaching purge and has, in the fans’ opinions, bungled the Carson Wentz situation.
Jason Kelce comes to mind here.
The center may yet retire, but, at age 33, he is still at the top of his game and hasn’t missed a start in 105 straight games. He simply may not want to call it a career just yet and is trying to balance that with returning to a team cloaked in a rebuild.
The Eagles should do the right thing here and try to trade him to the Kanas City Chiefs. Let him play with his brother, Travis, for another year or two and give him a chance to win a second championship ring.
Who cares if the return is nothing more than a sixth- or seventh-round pick?
It’s about doing the right thing for a loyal and extremely popular player, and something might be able to be worked out salary-cap wise to make it manageable.
By the time the Eagles figure to be good again, and even if it is in 2022, Kelce will be a year older and maybe not willing to put his body through the rigors of an offseason preparing to play another year, especially with two young kids and a job waiting for him as an offensive line coach at minimum if he wanted it.
Maybe something could be investigated for Brandon Brooks, who turns 32 this summer and has torn both Achilles in the last three years, or Lane Johnson who will be 31 in May and is coming off two ankle surgeries in a span of a few months. They are still very productive players but will be further down the age road when the Eagles figure to contend again.
On defense, Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox could be two other veterans whose futures should be taken into consideration.
Cox probably has more left at this point in his career, having just turned 30 in December. He may still be playing at a high level in a few years.
Graham, though, is in the final year of his deal and hits 33 in April.
What must he be thinking about returning to a rebuild?
No way is this suggesting trade all the 30-year-old guys, but everything should be looked at right now and maybe at least one gets moved. Maybe the one who makes the most sense is Kelce at this point.
These players won the very first Super Bowl for this franchise and as difficult as it would be to say good-bye, the Eagles could do them a favor and send them to cities that are close to winning a Super Bowl as their career wind down.
In other words, do the right thing if you can, and, in the process, earn back some goodwill from an angry fan base.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.