Eagles Wake-Up Call: Cox And the Spending Spree
The Eagles went into the offseason with two philosophies top of mind: take care of your own and invest in the quarterback position.
And boy have they ever.
To execute the first part, Howie Roseman — itching to make up for lost time after a year in exile — handed out the following contracts to core players between January 25 and February 22:
Zach Ertz –5-year, $42.5 million (21 guaranteed)
Brent Celek — 3-year, $13 million (6 guaranteed)
Lane Johnson — 5-year, $56.26 million (35.5 guaranteed)
Vinny Curry — 5-year, $47.25 million (23 guaranteed)
Malcolm Jenkins — 4-year, $35 million (21 guaranteed)
That’s $106.5 million in guarantees. The Eagles added another $63.3 to that already staggering total on Monday when they locked Fletcher Cox in to a six-year deal that could be worth over $102 million and averages out to more than $17 million per season.
Thankful … https://t.co/FuQXbWCafu
— fletcher cox (@fcoxx_91) June 13, 2016
And we haven’t even gotten to the quarterbacks yet. Seeking answers for both the short and long term, and wanting strength one through three, Jeffrey Lurie green-lighted deals for Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel and OK’d a trade up for Carson Wentz — moves that, all told, cost this team $60 million in guarantees.
The Eagles have spent an incredible amount of money this offseason, in other words, by far the most in the league.
Most Guaranteed Money Given Out since Jan 1, 2016
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 13, 2016
You can chalk some of it up to circumstance. Roseman had just gotten back in the big chair and had some catching up to do. And this is the result of having a a couple good draft classes back to back in 2012 and ’13, which netted Curry, Johnson, Ertz and Cox, among others. That’s going to cost some money when they become eligible for new contracts.
It’s also by design, though. It would have made better financial sense in the short-term, for instance, if the Eagles allowed Cox to play out the final year of his deal at $8 million this season before slapping the tag on him in 2017. But the Eagles have prioritized rewarding their core players and it doesn’t get any more core than Cox. Where this organization may have been a little less flexible in negotiations in years past, Roseman conceded leverage to a degree in the name of staying true to their principles and getting their best player under contract for the foreseeable future.
Similarly, the Eagles could have a) not signed Bradford; b) not signed Daniel or c) not drafted Wentz, but their new strategy is to go heavy at the QB position, because if you don’t have a good quarterback situation, what do you have?
Now, there are some potential flaws to point out, like the fact that the Eagles have committed so much money to the quarterback position without evidence that any of the three quarterbacks can play at a high level in this league. And their decision to spend this type of money is sure to make for tight financial times over the next several years.
But this is the path they’ve chosen: to reward their own and load up at quarterback. We’ll find out soon enough whether it was worth the hefty price tag associated with it.
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles signed Fletcher Cox to a six-year contract extension reportedly worth $103 million.
“He’s not taking this time off. He’s going to continue to learn and grow with the system.” Doug Pederson says that Carson Wentz is right on track in his development.
With 11 cornerbacks currently on the roster, how many will the Eagles keep when the regular season comes?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Cox’s guaranteed money is near the top of the league overall, writes Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com.
The only players given more guaranteed money in their contracts in NFL history are Eli Manning ($65 million) and Philip Rivers ($65 million). Manning’s deal began with $54 million guaranteed before increasing to $65 million.
The previous record for most guaranteed money for a defensive tackle is the $60 million given this offseason to Marcell Dareus of the Bills, with Ndamukong Suh of the Dolphins just behind at $59.955 million.
The most guaranteed money the Eagles have previously given out is $35 million to Lane Johnson this offseason and $32.5 million to Michael Vick in the summer of 2011.
On the other side of the football, Doug Pederson‘s offense is much more complicated than that of his predecessor’s, Chip Kelly, writes Phil Sheridan of ESPN.com.
If Kelly’s playbook was a pamphlet, Pederson’s is more like “War and Peace.” There are many more plays, and each comes with variations and options depending upon the defensive alignment. Wide receivers will go in motion, forcing defenders to move and perhaps reveal whether they are in man-to-man or zone coverage. Everyone on the offense is expected to read that information and adjust the play accordingly.
Meanwhile, Pederson will use a variety of snap counts. While Kelly was all about getting the ball snapped quickly, Pederson’s quarterback can take his time and try to fool defenders with hard counts and other tricks. During organized team activities, offensive players were already observing the advantage it gave them. A hesitant defense is not as quick off the ball as a defense that doesn’t have to worry about snap counts.
“I put more on the quarterback in this system, and it’s kind of what I’ve been accustomed to,” Pederson said last week. “Even when I was a player with coach [Andy] Reid, he put everything on the quarterback and we had to learn it that way.”
We’ll round up reaction to the Cox signing.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.