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Dreams and Nightmares: Michael Bennett Is an Eagle Now, and Philly Is Still Flying

But after dealing their stalwart pass rusher amid a wild offseason, the Seahawks may be dismantling their historic defense

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The Deal

Seahawks Receive: Fifth-round pick, WR Marcus Johnson, $2.2 million in cap savings ($5.2 million in dead money)
Eagles Receive: DE Michael Bennett, a seventh-round pick

The Impact

The rich get richer. The Eagles built the deepest roster in football and used it to win Super Bowl LII, and now they’re adding strength to strength. Bennett joins Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and Timmy Jernigan up front in what was already one of the best defensive line rotations in the NFL. With Bennett working under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Philly’s defense will haunt the nightmares of NFC East QBs.

The downside of having the deepest roster in football means it’s also the most expensive. The Eagles have the second-most-stretched salary cap in football, according to Spotrac, exceeding the roughly $177 million barrier with free agency looming. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on March 4 that the Eagles were expected to release or trade DE Vinny Curry if they couldn’t restructure his contract, which would pay him $9 million this year. The Eagles probably don’t want to part with a productive 29-year-old pass rusher, but it may be a necessary move to squeeze the team under the cap. Now they’ve acquired Bennett, who may be even more productive and will earn just $1.65 million in 2018. Bennett is owed $6 million in 2019 and $7.5 million in 2020, but considering how much guaranteed money Seattle took on from Bennett’s contract, the Eagles can release Bennett or restructure his deal down the line without much risk. As an added bonus, the Eagles can now shop Curry to a team willing to part with a draft pick to prevent him from hitting the open market.

Seattle saves just $2.2 million against the cap in the deal while eating $5.2 million of dead money. Accepting such a small haul for such meh cap savings could indicate the beginning of a fire sale in Seattle. Seahawks players seemed to know something was up Wednesday morning as rumors surfaced about both Bennett and cornerback Richard Sherman separating from the team.

The Seahawks are in an identity crisis, and the Eagles were the first to swoop in. Eagles GM Howie Roseman remains undefeated.

The Deal From 30,000 Feet

This offseason may top the blizzard of transactions at last fall’s trade deadline, which was the most active in recent memory. Boldface names like Alex Smith, Marcus Peters, and Robert Quinn have already been dealt. As rumors swirl around franchise-tagged Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry, Bennett’s deal is the latest evidence that this offseason may be among the most trade-happy in league history. Changes in league economics, particularly around the rising salary cap, have made teams more likely to take risks than ever before. The success of the Patriots and Eagles, two of the biggest risk takers on the NFL trade block, may embolden general managers around the league to try their hand at making trades to fill out the edges of their roster. Maybe the NFL finally looked at the NBA and realized offseason trades are fun.