The Philadelphia Eagles are moving on from defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, at least temporarily. A league source confirmed to Pro Football Network that Cox has been released ahead of Friday’s deadline for his $18 million salary guarantee trigger, but both sides are discussing a potential reunion. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo was the first to report the release and return discussion.
Philadelphia Eagles release Fletcher Cox
The Eagles have designated Cox as a post-June 1 release, which will spread his dead money out throughout the next two seasons. He would have been guaranteed another $18 million throughout the remainder of his contract if he was still on the roster by 4 PM ET on Thursday. The Eagles released him before that deadline.
According to Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap, the Eagles will realize a long-term salary cap savings of $16-18 million due to Cox’s departure. Philadelphia will hold Cox’s salary cap charge of $14.9 million on their books until June 2. At that point, his cap figure will be reduced to either $9.6 million or $12.8 million, depending on how the NFL processes his release, per Fitzgerald.
The Eagles are working with Cox to keep him in-house after 10 years of service. That renegotiation is notable, as Cox has been the face of the Eagles’ defense for a decade, through four different coaching regimes. The former first-round pick is a six-time Pro Bowl selection, a 2018 first-team All-Pro, and a three-time second-team All-Pro.
Cox was shopped ahead of his release. The Eagles also received interest in Cox leading up to the 2021 trade deadline but balked at shipping him out of town. Now, the Eagles will try to keep Cox in the loop with a new deal. If Cox spurns those return talks, the Eagles will probably use at least one of their three first-round picks in April on a defensive tackle.
The Eagles have other options, but they will ideally want to bring Cox back
The team has Pro Bowl starting defensive tackle Javon Hargrave under contract, but he is in the final year of his deal. Philadelphia drafted Milton Williams in the third round of last year’s draft, and while he showed a lot of promise as a rookie, the Eagles could afford to reinforce the defensive tackle position in front of him.
Cox was a key figure on the Eagles’ Super Bowl LII team, and he has played his entire career in Philadelphia. He has produced 58 sacks, 13 forced fumbles, and 3 defensive touchdowns in his career.
Coming off a down season under new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, Cox’s value on the market might take a bit of a hit. He also might want a fresh start in a defense where he can focus more on his heavy-attack style. That said, according to a league source, he is at least open to a return to Broad Street.