The Philadelphia Eagles were the feel-good story of the NFC last year, rising from last place in the NFC East in 2012 to surprisingly capture the division in Chip Kelly's first year as head coach.
If the team's early approach to the offseason is any indication, the Eagles have no intention of retreating into the shadows any time soon, as the team has been very aggressive about keeping its high-octane offense intact.
The latest news on that front came Wednesday, courtesy of Jeff McClane of The Philadelphia Inquirer. According to McClane, the Eagles are nearing an agreement with wide receiver Riley Cooper on a multiyear contract extension.
Assuming for the moment the deal becomes a reality, it caps a remarkable year for the fifth-year pro.
Less than a year ago, Cooper very nearly lost his job after racist comments he made at a concert went viral. It appeared a death-knell for a little-used wideout whose career high in yardage entering 2013 was 315.
|Riley Cooper 2013|
|*Per Pro Football Focus|
Instead, Cooper thrived in Kelly's offense, shattering his career bests across the board.
In addition to Cooper's 17.8 yards per catch last year, which ranked third in the NFL, Bleacher Report's Ryan Lownes points another facet of Cooper's game that was important to the Eagles in 2013:
In short, Cooper proved a fantastic fit for the Eagles offense. It makes sense for the team to re-up the 26-year-old before free agency kicks off March 11, especially with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reporting the market for Cooper's services was expected to be "active."
Of course, the reports of Cooper's contract also spurred speculation that fellow wideout Jeremy Maclin, who is also set to become a free agent after missing the entire 2013 season with a torn ACL, would hit the open market.
Not so fast, according to McLane:
The Eagles are also expected to sign free agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin to a new deal, most likely a one-year, "show me" contract after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament last July.
If McLane's report is true, and general manager Howie Roseman is able to lock up both Maclin and Cooper before free agency gets underway, then that's something of a coup for the Eagles.
Yes, Maclin missed all of last year with a serious injury, and the 25-year-old's production has never quite lived up to his potential.
Still, that potential is undeniable. Maclin is only now entering the prime of his career, and he told Zach Berman of philly.com both that he'll be ready for training camp and that he wants to stay in Philly.
Maclin gets his wish, and the Eagles get a low-risk deal that keeps their top three wideouts in town for 2014.
Sorry, Jason Avant. It's been fun, really.
This just covers what the Eagles are reportedly doing. At least one deal has already been signed.
With left tackle Jason Peters entering the final year of his contract, the Eagles took steps to ensure the six-time Pro Bowler finishes his career in Philly, signing the 32-year-old to a four-year extension.
ESPN's Adam Schefter had the details on the deal.
It's a lot of guaranteed money for a player who is well over 30 and coming off an Achilles tear two years ago, but the reason for the deal isn't hard to see:
Jason Peters is an elite left tackle, and you pay elite tackles whatever it takes.
Even more importantly, Peters was an elite tackle in Philly last year, and home is where these deals really and truly hit.
Not only were Cooper and Peters significant contributors during last year's playoff run, but they also have experience in Chip Kelly's uptempo system. So does Maclin, albeit to a lesser degree.
They also all have experience playing with the NFL's most surprising quarterback from last year.
Nick Foles came from nowhere to have an outstanding second NFL season in 2013. Now, he'll have a familiar face watching his blind side. More familiar faces will be catching his passes, including Maclin, who was Foles' top target during his run as the starter in 2012.
With the exception of Peters, the Eagles are an offensive team that's young, talented and under contract for the long haul.
Kelly, Roseman and the Eagles are giving Foles everything he needs to build on last season, to continue growing as a quarterback. He's being put in a position to succeed.
(Cue every quarterback in Cleveland for the past 15 years nodding solemnly while quietly sobbing.)
Granted, these moves guarantee the Eagles absolutely nothing in 2014. Free agency and the NFL draft still loom on the horizon, and there's as much uncertainty on defense as there is reason for optimism on offense.
However, the Eagles know that going in, and while other teams flail about in every direction, Philadelphia appears to have a very clear focus as a new league year dawns.
Keep the offense together. Get better on defense.
And win the NFC East again.
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