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NFC East news: Eagles, Commanders make salary cap room; Giants’ TE Waller considered retiring

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By: TCDeckard

Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Here’s what’s new around the NFC East division.

Kevin Byard Cut by Eagles; Saves $13.7m in NFL Salary Cap Space – Erin Walsh, Bleacher Report

Philly cut ties with a safety they acquired at the trade deadline.

Kevin Byard’s time with the Philadelphia Eagles has come to an end.

The Eagles are releasing the veteran safety after just one season. ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the move.. The move will save them $13.7 million in salary cap space.

Philadelphia acquired Byard from the Tennessee Titans in October in exchange for safety Terrell Edmunds and fifth- and sixth-round picks in the 2024 NFL draft. The move didn’t work out as the franchise had hoped.

Byard was a two-time Pro Bowler with the Titans, but he ultimately contributed to an Eagles secondary that was abysmal during the second half of the 2023 campaign. The Birds lost five of their last six games before being blown out by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card Round.

The struggles weren’t entirely Byard’s fault, but he didn’t have much of an impact. He posted one interception, three pass breakups and 75 tackles in 10 games and added five tackles against the Buccaneers.

Once they release Byard, the Eagles will be left with a secondary highlighted by Darius Slay, Reed Blankenship, James Bradberry, Avonte Maddox, Eli Ricks, Kelee Ringo and Sydney Brown.

Despite his lackluster performance last season, Byard should receive a decent amount of interest from teams looking for help in the secondary in 2024 given his history of success in Tennessee.

Byard’s best season came in 2017 when he posted eight interceptions, 16 pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and 87 tackles in 16 games en route to Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro selections.

He also earned Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro nods in 2021 after posting five interceptions, 13 pass breakups, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one sack and 88 tackles in 17 games.

Commanders release TE Logan Thomas, LT Charles Leno Jr. – Coral Smith, NFL.com

Two of Washington’s starters end up as cap casualties.

The Washington Commanders have released tight end Logan Thomas and starting left tackle Charles Leno Jr., the team announced Friday.

Thomas had been with the organization for four years while Leno had just wrapped his third campaign in Washington. Both will turn 33 this year. NFL Network Insider Mike Garafolo reported Thomas’ release and NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Leno’s departure earlier on Friday.

Thomas was due $6.5 million for the upcoming season, including a $500,000 roster bonus that would have kicked in this month, per Garafolo, but instead, the Commanders will save some cash by cutting him loose now.

The veteran tight end hauled in 55 catches for 496 yards and four touchdowns (tied for the team lead) last season, his best finish since 2020 — his first year in Washington.

The Commanders could now be in the market to sign or draft a starting tight end with Thomas gone, as the only TEs left on the roster are Cole Turner, John Bates and Armani Rogers. Turner and Bates had 120 and 151 receiving yards in 2023, respectively, while Rogers missed the entire season with an Achilles injury.

Leno’s departure also added to the Commanders’ growing cap space, freeing up $7.28 million, per Spotrac.

Like Thomas, Leno was drafted in 2014, joining the Bears as a seventh-round pick. Though he played only six games with one start in his rookie year, from then on Leno was one of the most reliable offensive lineman around. He played in every regular season game from 2015 through 2022, starting every game in seven of those seasons. He earned his sole Pro Bowl nod with Chicago in 2018, and signed with Washington three years later ahead of the 2021 season. Leno’s streak of starts came to an end in 2023 after he missed four games due to injury, and he also recorded his highest penalty total (8) since 2019.

Giants’ Darren Waller contemplated retirement after New York debut, now set for 2024 return, per report – Cody Benjamin, CBS Sports

The TE nearly walked away from the game, but has shifted his focus to the 2024 season.

The 2023 NFL season marked Darren Waller’s first with the New York Giants. It almost marked his last. The Pro Bowl tight end contemplated retirement immediately following the year, according to the New York Post, but is now committed to a 2024 return.

The 31-year-old Waller was one of New York’s top offseason additions a year ago, arriving via trade in exchange for a third-round draft pick. Injuries limited his availability for a third straight season, however, and he told some inside the Giants organization he was considering hanging up the cleats, per the Post.

He’d also been speculated as a potential salary-cap casualty, but the Giants have no plans to release him, the Post

reports, hoping he can stay healthy and “be a more robust contributor to the offense” in 2024. Waller is technically under contract through 2026, thanks to a three-year extension he originally signed with the Las Vegas Raiders, due $14 million this coming season.

When active, Waller has been one of the NFL’s steadiest pass catchers at his position. Before logging 52 receptions for 552 yards in 12 games with the Giants, he spent five years with the Raiders, twice eclipsing 90 catches and 1,000 yards as one of the team’s top receivers. Originally a sixth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens back in 2015, he’s missed at least five games due to injury in each of his last three seasons, appearing in just nine contests in his final year with the Raiders.

Originally posted on Blogging The Boys