Fletcher Cox's contract was too expensive for the Eagles to stomach in 2022, but that doesn't mean his time in Philadelphia is over.
It's at least on pause for now.
Philadelphia released Cox on Thursday just before his $18 million in salary would have become fully guaranteed, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo and NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. The team later confirmed the news.
Cox is free to sign with any team, but his representatives and the Eagles continue to have discussions about a possible return, per Garafolo.
Cox's release isn't a huge surprise. The defensive tackle struggled to find his footing in new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon's scheme in 2021 and voiced his displeasure early in the season before settling in, finishing with 35 tackles (seven for loss), 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in 16 regular-season games. Philadelphia's run to the postseason certainly made the situation easier to bear, but not enough for the Eagles to guarantee nearly $20 million for 2022.
A first-round pick out of Mississippi State in 2012, Cox has spent his entire career with the Eagles as a havoc-wreaking interior defensive lineman. He's made six Pro Bowls and earned a first-team All-Pro selection in his 10 seasons, and is one half of an excellent interior tandem, teaming with Javon Hargrave to rack up 22 combined sacks at 30 tackles for loss in two seasons spent together.
The issue now: Hargrave is outperforming Cox, and the Eagles can't justify carrying a combined cap number of $32.7 million between the two in 2022. There's still a chance Cox returns at a lower figure, but there's now a risk he leaves for more money elsewhere. We'll wait to see what the future holds for Cox.