Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson proved less than a year ago that giving over $20 million guaranteed to a running back is a risky proposition. With that in mind, it's hard to imagine anyone complaining about the Philadelphia Eagles' decision to sign LeSean McCoy to a five-year contract extension worth a reported $20.8 million in guaranteed money.
McCoy, who led the league with 20 touchdowns (17 rushing, three receiving) in 2011, isn't yet 24 years old, but the three-year veteran already has two 1,000-yard seasons under his belt.
After Ray Rice, McCoy was the league's best running back last year. He broke a league-high 50 tackles, with more broken tackles per touch than any other back, according to Football Outsiders. He's also a solid part of the passing game -- he led all running backs in 2010 with 78 receptions.
If there's a knock on McCoy, it's that he isn't very good in pass protection. That's something the Eagles surely will try to develop. It isn't uncommon for a back to improve his blocking skills as he matures in the league.
But even with that in mind, there isn't a running back in the NFL I'd feel safer giving long-term guaranteed money to than McCoy, who could stand to make up to $45 million before this deal expires.
While overuse in terms of number of carries probably isn't a concern as long as Andy Reid's running the show in Philadelphia, the Eagles would be smart to pace McCoy once in a while. He took more snaps than any back in the league in 2011, according to Pro Football Focus.
What this means for the Eagles' future
If McCoy can indeed stay fresh, the Eagles will be set at running back for many years to come and the franchise will be in a position to make a run with a core group of offensive and defensive weapons that isn't going anywhere.
With DeSean Jackson signing a long-term deal earlier this offseason, Philly now has McCoy, Jackson, Michael Vick, Trent Cole, Jason Babin, DeMeco Ryans and Nnamdi Asomugha all signed until at least 2015.
At 31, Vick is the oldest member of that group. Everyone's either in, or entering, their prime. That's the good news. The bad news is that the oldest key player is also the key player. Without Vick on top of his game, the Eagles will have very little chance of winning in January.
Philly might soon have to either shift the focus to finding more protection for its quarterback or grooming a replacement. Because based on the number of injuries he's suffered since returning to football, Vick might not last another four or five years.
Ideally for the Eagles, he won't require a five-year window anyway -- especially if you consider that the seven aforementioned players are scheduled to make a combined $72 million in base salary in 2015.
The expectation in Philadelphia is that this group of players takes care of business sooner rather than later.
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