What They’re Saying About the Eagles

Reactions from Fletcher Cox's big pay day.

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco


This week’s roundup of the best Eagles links around the web.

After Fletcher Cox‘s record-setting contract extension, John Breech of CBS Sports thinks the money is well-deserved.

It is hard to say anyone is deserving of that kind of money because that is a huge contract.

But this guy, he’s pivotal for the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s been there, this is his third coaching staff and every [guy] on his coaching staff has absolutely loved him. He produces and he had a career year last year, so you can’t let a guy like that, a cornerstone guy, get away, and that’s the market rate, you’ve got to give him big money, so…he absolutely did deserve this money.

Bryce Johnston of OvertheCap looks deeper into the numbers behind the Cox deal.

As the chart below shows, Fletcher Cox possesses the largest Expected Contract Value of any non-QB contract in the entire NFL.  This contract contains all of the characteristics that drive a high Expected Contract Value.  First, there is a large signing bonus, which provides significant dead money protection into the fifth contract season.  Second, there is a fully guaranteed option bonus in the second contract season that provides additional dead money protection through the sixth contract season.  Third, the contract includes impressive Accelerated Future Team Option Deadlines whereby the 2018 salary and half of the 2019 salary vest as fully guaranteed during the 2017 offseason, and the other half of the 2019 salary vests as fully guaranteed during the 2018 offseason.  Because Cox is extremely likely to remain under contract into 2017, the Accelerated Future Team Option Deadlines produce a waterfall effect that greatly enhances the probability Cox will remain under contract through 2019.

Fourth, because the contract is an extension, the yearly cap numbers are less than the “new money APY” would suggest they might be, which provides Cox somewhat more of a buffer zone to suffer a performance decline before the team would determine that releasing him is a more efficient use of salary cap space.  Fifth, the contract is not structured in a back-loaded fashion, which means there is a legitimate opportunity that the team will find Cox’s cap numbers in 2021-2022 to be reasonable, particularly once salary cap inflation is taken into account.  Finally, Cox will only be 25 years old at the beginning of the 2016 season, and due to typical aging curves, younger players have a higher probability of remaining under contract longer, and in turn receiving a higher percentage of the face value of a contract.

With the new deal, Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report thinks that the NFL is entering a new age of contracts, and might continue with Von Miller‘s possible contract extension in Denver.

The thing is, it really shouldn’t be. Not given the current contract climate in the NFL. In just the past few years, the salary cap has skyrocketed. In 2013 the salary cap was $123 million. By 2016 that number had spiked to $155.3 million.

That money gets spent somewhere. And pass-rushers get a big chunk of it.

Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is at the head of the class Cox just joined, with an average annual salary per Spotrac of just over $19 million. Including Suh and Cox, seven defensive linemen have contracts that pay them in excess of $15 million a year. Outside linebacker Justin Houston of the Kansas City Chiefs makes it eight pass-rushers bringing home the big bucks.

And it’s about to be nine. Because all Cox’s deal served to do in Denver was send Von Miller’s contract that much farther into the stratosphere.

Prior to the deal, Cox was one of nine indispensable players on defense, according to Adam Schein of NFL.com.

5) Fletcher Cox, DT, Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles stud never gets the credit he deserves, but this multi-talented game wrecker shows his worth on every snap. The 9.5 sacks and three forced fumbles are incredible figures for a defensive tackle, but they don’t even begin to tell the story of Cox’s total domination. The amount of attention this guy commands helps everyone around him.

Cox just showed up to mandatory minicamp, even though he wants a new deal. And he will get one. I talked to Eagles general manager Howie Roseman on SiriusXM in May. He knows how great Cox is — and the GM was very open about the money that’ll eventually go his way.

“It’s gonna be a big deal, it’s gonna be a huge deal,” Roseman told me. “We want him here. He’s not going anywhere, and he’ll be here for a long time in Philadelphia.”

So, yes, while Cox might be underappreciated on the broader NFL spectrum, the Eagles certainly understand his worth.

If Sam BradfordCarson Wentz, and Chase Daniel all pan out, the Eagles and Howie Roseman won’t have to worry about the quarterback position for at least a decade, writes KC Joyner of ESPN.com.

Having a long-term quarterback plan is a good idea under any circumstance, but Roseman recently pointed out that the Eagles also took a league-wide view when deciding to pay the price to move up to draft Wentz.

Roseman noted that many of the NFL’s best passers are getting long in the tooth and the numbers more than back that up.

Last season, 35 quarterbacks had enough pass attempts to be considered passer rating qualified. Sixteen of those players are now 30 years or older and 11 of those players are 33 years or older.

What makes this situation even more daunting for the league is how many upper-tier quarterbacks are in this age tier of 30-35+: Tom Brady (38), Drew Brees (37), Carson Palmer (36), Tony Romo (36), Eli Manning (35), Philip Rivers (34), Ben Roethlisberger (34), Jay Cutler (33), Ryan Fitzpatrick (33), Aaron Rodgers (32), Alex Smith (32), Matt Ryan (31), and Joe Flacco (31). It can be argued how many of this group rate among the top 10 at the quarterback position, but to say they are in upper half of the league’s field generals is almost a given.

Bottom line

If the Bill James adage that players in any sport really start to hit the age wall when they turn 35 is correct, it means nearly half of NFL teams are going to either have to replace their quarterback or deal with an aging quarterback issue in a mere five years.

This almost certainly won’t be the case for the Eagles. Roseman’s 10-year plan helped the team stockpile top-flight quarterback talent at exactly the right moment and could give Philadelphia a huge edge over the rest of the league in the next decade.

Bovada has set the over/under line for how many games Carson Wentz will start at 3.5. A number of writers, including Josh, gave their predictions, from Robert Klemko of the MMQB.

Eagles: Set the over/under on how many games Carson Wentz will start.

Zach Berman, Philadelphia Inquirer: 2
Les Bowen, Philadelphia Daily News: 3.5
Adam Caplan, ESPN NFL Insider: 4.5
Jeff McLane, Philadelphia Inquirer: 1
Josh Paunil, Birds 24/7, Philly Mag: 3
Eliot Shorr-Parks, NJ.com: 2.5

Average: 2.75

Les Bowen’s June take: “It all revolves around Bradford’s health. He looks good out here in practice, and if he can stay healthy I think there’s a chance that he plays nearly the entire season, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in his health. You watch Wentz, and he does something tremendous every day, but you can tell that after 23 games at the [FCS] level, there’s a lot he needs to catch up on. The fans will want to see him, but the coach also brought in Chase Daniel, a guy he likes, and paid him $7 million. It would not surprise me if Wentz didn’t play at all this year, but I’ll put the number at 3.5 because I do believe there’s a good chance Bradford’s health doesn’t stand up.”

As a first-year coach, Doug Pederson is in the middle tier for NFL head coaches, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.

Doug Pederson, Eagles: With three quarterbacks making starter’s money, at least one of them has to be able to play. Law of averages, right? Regardless, next year will be the show-me-something year from second-overall pick Carson Wentz, which gives the new staff at least a two-year cushion one would assume. Then again, no one saw [Chip] Kelly getting whacked on a Tuesday before the season ended and then shredded by ownership on the way out.