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Darius Slay said goodbye to Philadelphia prematurely.
After the Eagles informed Slay that he will be released Wednesday, the team reversed course and the two sides are working on restructuring the five-time Pro Bowl cornerback’s contract to keep him in Philadelphia.
Slay posted a goodbye on Twitter earlier Wednesday: “Nothing but love Philly!! Lets see where we heading next.”
His wife, Jennifer, posted late Wednesday night: “WE HERE BABY!!”
Slay is scheduled to earn a base salary of $17 million in 2023 with a salary cap hit of $26.1 million. A post-June 1 release would’ve opened up $17.5 million of salary cap space and pushed about $13 million of Slay’s cap hit to 2024. The Eagles agreed with cornerback James Bradberry on a $38 million, three-year contract on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old Slay played a key role on defense for the NFC champion Eagles. He was acquired in a trade from Detroit in 2020 and had seven interceptions in three seasons in Philadelphia.
Also Wednesday, the Carolina Panthers announced they’d agreed to terms on a four-year deal with running back MIles Sanders, who led the Eagles with 1,269 yards rushing last season.
Sanders waved goodbye to Eagles fans on Twitter, the club having signed running backs Rashad Penny and Boston Scott to contracts. Ian Rappaport of the NFL Network and NFL.com reported that the former Penn State standout has agreed to terms with the Carolina Panthers. No details were reported on the length or amount of the deal.
“To the city of Philadelphia Thank You from the bottom of my heart,” Sanders said.
Late Wednesday the NFL Network reported that free agent defensive tackle Fletcher Cox will return on a one-year, $10 million deal. Cox has 65 career sacks, 15 forced fumbles and 13 fumble recoveries.
The Eagles obviously had no interest in bringing Slay back with a $17 million base salary, much less a $26 million salary cap charge. They also realized they were overextended at the position and decided it was better to bring 30-year-old James Bradberry back at the hometown rate than keep Slay, who teammates voted a captain.
Slay will find a job although he may have to follow the path of guys like 32-year-old cornerback Patrick Peterson, who recently agreed to a two-year, $14 million pact with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
There also are reports the Eagles still are in the running for Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, their top performer in the secondary and second-best defender to pass rusher Haason Reddick. C.J. tied for the league lead with six interceptions despite sitting out five games.
Former Bengals safety Jessie Bates, who the Eagles were interested in acquiring agreed to a four-year, $64 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons. The $23 million in guarantees is in the ballpark for the Eagles.
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Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni is a fan of veteran quarterback Jacoby Brissett from their time with the Colts.
Sirianni will be reunited with Brissett, although not as the Eagles’ veteran backup after the player agreed to a contract with the Washington Commanders. Brissett could compete with Sam Howell for the No. 1 job.
The Eagles still will need a veteran backup and Marcus Mariota might be serviceable, although by the time you read this he may be off the market.
A couple of years ago Mariota played on a one-year $3.5 million pact that could have bumped up to more than $8 million with incentives.
This quarterback backup market is pricier, though.
Mike White agreed to a two-year, $16 million contract to backup Tua Tagovailoa in Miami, Case Keenum to a two-year, $6.25 million deal ($4 million guaranteed) with the Houston Texans.
Taylor Heinicke got a two-year, $14 million pact with Atlanta.
Sam Darnold (one year, $4.5 million) is with the 49ers, Baker Mayfield (one year, $4 million) with the Buccaneers.
Jarrett Stidham got a two-year, $10 million contract with the Broncos, Andy Dalton a two-year, $10 million pact with the Panthers, who are going to select a quarterback with the first pick in the draft.
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The Eagles’ unsigned free agents include Gardner-Johnson, guard Isaac Seumalo, backup quarterback Gardner Minshew and defensive linemen Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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