There has been plenty of blame for this year being put on the hands on Howie Roseman. Almost all of his offseason free agency and trade additions have failed so far: Malik Jackson and DeSean Jackson suffered season-ending injuries, L.J. Fort was released and has been shining in Baltimore, Andrew Sendejo almost decapitated a teammate, Zach Brown has been cut loose, and Vinny Curry has just one sack in almost 200 snaps.
There has been one successful offseason addition though, and that has been Jordan Howard. Back in March, the Eagles traded a sixth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft (that could potentially become a fifth-round pick) to the Chicago Bears to get the now 25-year-old powerback. All Howard has done in Philadelphia is produce. So far in 2019, Howard has 525 rushing yards and 69 rushing yards with seven total touchdowns. Not bad for a guy who after the preseason we all believed would be the backup behind Miles Sanders.
Now after a successful first-half of the season, it's worth thinking about signing Howard to a contract extension to keep him an Eagle long-term. Howard is set to become a free agent this March. Since he is performing well in his contract year, Howard is probably going to want some big money from the Eagles if they were to keep him from testing free agency, otherwise it is likely that he will see a big payday elsewhere. the good news is that even if Howard decides to leave the Eagles, the team could be set to receive a compensatory draft pick for his departure in the 2021 Draft, how high of a draft pick it would be depends on how big his contract is, and if the Eagles lose more free agents than the number of free agents they sign.
So what kind of deal should we expect Howard to get?
He has certainly been playing like a top-10 running back in the NFL this season, so let's take a peak at the 10 running backs who have the highest average salary per year:
Those numbers are important, but what's even more important in the eyes of players is the fully guaranteed money at the time of the signing. Here's a look at the 10 running backs with the most fully guaranteed money in their deals:
Ultimately, I feel that Howard's agent will end up wanting his average money between the range of Duke Johnson and Devonta Freeman ($5.2 Million - $8.25 Million). As for guaranteed money, I feel that his agent will end up wanting his fully guaranteed money to be between the range of Josh Jacobs and Devonta Freeman ($11.9 Million - $18.2 Million). As an overall prediction, I will say that Howard's side in the end will be asking for a three-year deal worth $24 Million, with $14 Million of that being fully guaranteed.
Can the Eagles afford that kind of contract?
Yes they can. The team is set to have ~$38 Million in cap space heading into the offseason. However, the 2020 cap hasn't been set yet by the league, and the past six seasons it has gone up at least $10 Million, so for all intensive purposes let's say the Eagles will have $48 Million in cap space. They are currently projected to have 10 draft picks in the 2020 draft, and if they keep all 10 they will need to save ~$11 Million towards those draft picks. So that means Howie Roseman will have ~$37 Million to work with this offseason with contract extensions and free agent signings.
If the team signs Howard to that hypothetical contract in the paragraph above this one, that means they'll have about $29 Million to fill any other holes on the team in free agency or to sign the other pending free agents on the team. Eagles players set to become free agents in the offseason are: Nigel Bradham, Rodney McLeod, Ronald Darby, Nate Sudfeld, Nelson Agholor, Tim Jernigan, Jake Elliott, and Cam Johnston.
Should the Eagles give that hypothetical contract to Jordan Howard?
If all those other prerequisites mentioned end up coming to fruition, then I would absolutely sign Howard to the extension. We've seen in 2017 that the Eagles offense excelled when they had a power runner in LeGarrette Blount. The 2019 offense hasn't performed well because of the wide receivers, but the running game has saved them so far thanks to the powerful running of Howard (and the speed of Miles Sanders). There should still be plenty of money left for Howie Roseman to offer a few other contract extensions and sign some mid-level free agents. The 10 projected draft picks will certainly help Roseman fill out his 53-man roster in 2020 and not force him to get too creative to fit under the cap.
The team might have initially seen Howard as a one-year rental to eventually ditch for a compensatory draft pick in the offseason, but after seeing his success so far in 2019, it is definitely worth considering keeping him around.
So what do you think? Do you want the team to keep Jordan Howard for 2020 and beyond? Vote in our Twitter poll!