The Philadelphia Eagles became the 11th team in the NFL to sign their entire draft class by inking the 12th overall pick from the 2012 draft today. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox has agreed to a four-year deal worth $10.24 million.
For starters, it's nice to have this completely out of the way 34 days ahead of rookies reporting to training camp. Most of all, having their first-rounder signed is a split from the Eagles' history.
It also adds another layer to this blissful 2012 offseason.
Some may not credit the Eagles front office for getting this deal done, and that is because of the new rookie salary cap that slots salaries of first-year players. Whether the Eagles did this all on their own or not, it's still a positive.
In the Andy Reid era, the Eagles have selected 11 players in the first round. Seven of those players have held out and missed at least a few days of training camp.
But this season, with such high hopes pinned upon it, there will be no holdout.
Last year, there were complaints and bitterness. There was ego and overconfidence.
This year, is different.
This year, there is happiness and harmony.
This year, there is a group that has faced adversity and come together.
It's football, and those descriptions may seem a little meek and mild for such a macho sport, but it's true, and it's better than the vibes of 2011.
More than anything, this signing is important because Cox is viewed as a perfect fit for this defensive scheme. He is expected to make a significant contribution to a defense that is expected to be vastly improved from a year ago.
Before 2012 even starts, most of the roster will have at least one year of experience under Jim Washburn and Juan Castillo. This year, there will be veterans who can impart wisdom on the fresh faces.
This year is different than the disaster of 2011. The Eagles have a first-round draft pick signed prior to the start of training camp for the first time since Mike Patterson in 2005. Everyone on this roster is happy and focused on the only thing that matters: football.
Cox is expected to bring big things as a rookie, and with the signing of this contract he'll be as prepared as possible to do so. If he delivers on his potential and promise, he'll help bring the defense up to where it needs to be.
The Eagles had arguably the best pass-rushing defensive line in 2011. With Cox on board as well as Vinny Curry, it may even be the deepest and most complete.
Kudos to the Eagles for capping an incredible offseason with the signing of an extremely popular first-round draft pick. Things are going according to plan, and Eagles fans everywhere are anxiously awaiting a return to NFL action.