The NFL's legal tampering period kicks off at noon ET Monday. Clubs are permitted to enter into contract negotiations with representatives of players who will become unrestricted free agents on Wednesday.
Here's what to expect during what should be a busy few days for the Philadelphia Eagles:
Before the Eagles can begin adding through free agency, they're going to have to subtract. The Super Bowl champs are projected to be about $9 million over the salary cap and need to shave money by 4 p.m ET Wednesday to be cap-compliant. Agreed upon trades -- like the one that will send receiver Torrey Smith to the Carolina Panthers for cornerback Daryl Worley -- won't offer relief until after the league year has started, so they'll need to get there via cuts and contract restructuring.
Tight end Brent Celek is a player to watch. The 11-year veteran is revered by the organization but carries a $5 million cap number that stands out under the circumstances. With Celek reportedly wanting to continue his career, the Eagles have a difficult decision to make if Celek won't accept a pay cut.
They could also get creative by restructuring some veteran contracts. Left tackle Jason Peters carries a cap number of close to $11 million. There is opportunity for some relief there if the 36-year-old is open to it -- something he hasn't been in the past. There is mutual interest in a contract extension for defensive end Brandon Graham, whose 2018 cap number of $8 million could be reduced under a new deal. Fellow defensive end Chris Long recently expressed uncertainty about whether he'd be back in Philly, saying that he's "working something out right now." He has a $2.3 million cap charge in '18.
Executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman has made 16 trades since regaining personnel power in '16. He's remained aggressive on this front this offseason, dealing Smith to the Carolina Panthers and acquiring Bennett from the Seahawks. It's a great bet that more are to come. There's some buzz around the idea a defensive back could be moved for a Day 2 pick in April's draft (the Eagles don't have a second- or third-rounder). Cornerback Ronald Darby, a free agent after this season, is the one candidate at his position that makes some sense.
Depending on what happens with pending free-agent linebacker Nigel Bradham, linebacker Mychal Kendricks could be available. And there's at least a remote chance quarterback Nick Foles gets dealt, though the organization is setting a steep price.
Per the NFL Network, the Eagles are working to re-sign cornerback Patrick Robinson. He developed into one of the top slot cornerbacks in the game last season. Bradham was another key defensive contributor, though he could end up being too expensive to retain depending on how his market shapes up.
Tight end Trey Burton is expected to sign elsewhere. Given that Celek also might not be back, the Eagles are likely going to need to add at tight end via free agency or the draft. Jimmy Graham, Tyler Eifert and Martellus Bennett -- brother of recently acquired defensive end Michael Bennett -- are among the top available tight ends. Linebacker is another position of need, especially if Bradham and/or Kendricks are gone. Bills free agent Preston Brown was coached by defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz in Buffalo his rookie year and has topped 100 tackles in each of his four seasons in the pros. He could be an attractive option, if the price isn't too high.
Bottom line, the Eagles need to get their finances in order first. Once they shed salary, Roseman and Co. will look for ways to tweak the Super Bowl roster as they gear up to repeat.