Following a two-day free-agency frenzy—during which 23 free agents were signed by other teams—and the 2010-2011 offseason in which the Eagles brought in a plethora of big-name players from the around the league, Andy Reid and the front office decided to stay local by re-signing three of their most important pieces: right tackle Todd Herremans, defensive end Trent Cole and wide receiver DeSean Jackson. The first two were signed earlier in the day, while Jackson was signed in mid-afternoon.
Todd Herremans' extension didn't come as much of a surprise, following a year in which the versatile lineman played three different positions, all of them well. He and left tackle Jason Peters combine to form one of the best tackle groups in the NFL, and his re-signing stabilizes an offensive line maligned by inconsistency following the end of the Jon Runyan-Tra Thomas era.
Herremans had originally been under contract until 2013 and owed about $4.8 million total in relation to his base salaries. The three-year extension will net him at least $11 million guaranteed and up to $21 million overall. It makes sense for someone who seamlessly moved from left guard to right tackle last season and is one of the most professional personalities in the entire locker room.
Shortly after setting Herremans' deal in stone, the Eagles set out to extend the contract of their longest-tenured defensive starter. Trent Cole, like Herremans, was only locked in place until the 2013 season, but the Eagles gave him a four-year extension worth $48.525 million in terms of salary, with a generous $15 million guaranteed. The sack machine could add up to $7 million to that total if certain escalators are triggered according to his deal.
Similarly to Herremans, this signing was a no-brainer. In the last five seasons, in 77 games, Cole has recorded 55.0 sacks and forced 10 fumbles. His sack total is third in that span, behind only All-Pros Jared Allen and DeMarcus Ware. He has been the core of the Eagles' front 7 for years, and thanks to this extension, will continue to be for the next six.
The most controversial, and definitely most surprising, was the re-signing of wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who earlier this month was put under the franchise tag by the Eagles organization. The new deal, one that certainly looks good for the team's cap space, will be a five-year deal between $48.4 and $51 million, as different sources have conflicted over the exact number. Whatever the number, the guaranteed money will amount to $15 million, pennies on the dollar considering how much wide receivers have been paid recently.
While the terms of the contract are stunningly advantageous for the Eagles, the amount of production they'll get out of DeSean is not as predictable as it is with Cole and Herremans. While he did have 961 yards receiving last season, DeSean only caught 58 balls and a measly two in the red zone. That clearly contributed to his touchdowns (or lack thereof): only four.
Many analysts blamed Jackson's struggles on his unwillingness to play without being paid like a top receiver, but now that he has his long-term deal, there will be no excuses in 2011-12.