The Eagles announced Tuesday they had decided to release starting CB Cary Williams, a move which cleared $6.5 million in cap space, according to Phil Sheridan of ESPN.
Interestingly, Philadelphia is now without both of its starting cornerbacks from last season, as Williams' teammate Bradley Fletcher hits the open market March 10. By cutting Williams, however, the Eagles may have tipped their hand in terms of offseason positional direction.
Philadelphia holds the No. 20 pick in the NFL Draft. Rampant speculation has suggested the Eagles will try and move into the top five or six picks of the draft to select Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, but the logistics of such a move would make such a transaction a lofty, moderately unrealistic goal.
If the Eagles hang on to their No. 20 pick, many draft experts expected Philadelphia to draft a cornerback, a move that's almost a certainty considering they are now without both of their starters. With Michigan State CB Trae Waynes likely long-gone by the 20th pick the Eagles will likely pull the trigger on the drafts next best cornerback, which could complicate the Steelers' selection at No. 22, especially if they had their hearts set on someone like Marcus Peters or Jalen Collins.
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Secondly, the Eagles are now left with roughly $30 million in cap space. The team has already been linked to Byron Maxwell, who will command top dollar on the open market, but the Eagles could also opt to use their excess funds to re-sign Brandon Graham, a free agent outside linebacker who is set to become a hot commodity on the open market. In fact, Matt Lombardo of NewJersey.com suggests a deal between the Eagles and Graham is already in the works and that he's seeking close to $20 million in guarantees. If this happens, free agent OLB Jason Worilds will surely ask for a contract mirroring that of Graham, and if the Steelers had any hope of negotiating with Worilds, he now has the Graham deal for leverage.
Although Williams' release is a fairly insignificant, albeit expected roster move, it's the type of transaction that sends ripples across the NFL landscape. While Williams' release isn't about to alter the offseason plans of an franchise dramatically, it does set the wheels in motion for other, more significant transactions.