Philadelphia Eagles: Assigning Letter Grade to Team's Recent Contracts

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Philadelphia Eagles: Assigning Letter Grade to Team's Recent Contracts
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

It's been quite an exciting offseason thus far for the Philadelphia Eagles. Fresh off a 10-6 record and division title, the organization is making sure the core of the offense remains intact for subsequent years.

All-Pro offensive tackle Jason Peters signed a five-year, $51 million contract extension that will keep him in Philadelphia through the 2018 season.

On Thursday, NFL.com reported that star center Jason Kelce agreed on a six-year, $37.5 million deal and wide receiver Riley Cooper agreed to a five-year, $25 million deal that keeps him in Philadelphia rather than hitting the open market.

It's not the "Dream Team" scenario of 2011, but it's similar to the spring of '12, when the Eagles made sure they locked up the bulk of their roster to long-term deals. That year, they extended LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans, ensuring that the top talents on their roster would remain in Philly.

The Eagles can still sign free-agent receiver Jeremy Maclin before he tests the market. Once the official free-agency period starts, general manager Howie Roseman will have an opportunity to grab veterans around the league—Jairus Byrd or T.J. Ward, to name a few that would intrigue Birds fans.

Roseman's efficiency in managing the salary cap is what puts the Eagles in such an ideal financial situation. According to EaglesCap.com, Philadelphia was $24 million under the cap before these most recent signings.

The fact that Nick Foles is still on his rookie contract certainly helps, as the team isn't weighed down by a quarterback-heavy contract, which is a situation that the Baltimore Ravens or Chicago Bears are faced with.

Looking closely at the three contracts shows how fiscally responsible the Eagles were. They continue to put themselves in excellent salary-cap position and have locked up the core of their team for several years, beginning with their All-Pro blind-side protector.



Jason Peters

Consider the acquisition of Jason Peters to be one of the gutsiest, yet smartest, moves Andy Reid ever made as head coach.

Following a 2008 season that saw Peters allow a league-worst 13 sacks—the single worst mark since Pro Football Focus (subscription required) was founded that same year—Reid made Peters his new franchise left tackle, replacing perennial star Tra Thomas. 

Reid shipped his first-round pick for Peters, securing himself a superstar at the blind-side position. Peters has been nothing short of spectacular since joining Philly, making the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons. He rebounded from a devastating Achilles tendon injury in ’12 to play at an elite level again in ’13, earning First-Team All-Pro status.

Jeffrey G. Pittenger-USA TODAY S

Peters is 32 years old, but he’s still in the prime of his career. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller rated him as the third-best left tackle in the game in 2013. Pro Football Focus had him fourth

Peters took a little bit to rebound from his injury, as he gave up 24 hurries in his first nine games, but just six in his last eight contests (including the playoffs).

The Philadelphia Eagles spent a first-round pick on Lane Johnson in 2013, getting themselves a top talent to play the right tackle position. Johnson probably would have moved to left tackle in ’15 had the Eagles let Peters walk, but now they have themselves an elite duo of offensive tackles locked under contract for many years.

Peters’ four-year, $41 million extension means he’s now making $51 million over the next five seasons. That’s $10 million per year, which is a lot to pay for an offensive tackle, but money well spent in the Eagles’ case.

As Spotrac.com indicates, Peters’ contract breaks down as an $8.3 million cap hit in ’14, $8.6 million in ’15, $9.3 million in ’16, $11.2 million in ’17, and $11.3 million in ’18. That should be enough to have Peters retire as a member of the Eagles.

By then, there will be serious Hall of Fame talk surrounding him.

Peters is still just the sixth-highest-paid left tackle in the game in terms of average net value. The five tackles making more than him—Joe Thomas, Ryan Clady, Trent Williams, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and Andrew Whitworth—are all elite players.

Peters would have gotten every bit of his $10-million-per-year deal if he had tested the open market and he’s an ideal fit athletically for Chip Kelly’s offense.

Simply put, Howie Roseman had to lock up Peters long-term, no matter the cost.

Grade: A+


Jason Kelce

A former sixth-round pick in 2011, Jason Kelce is now one of the NFL’s best all-around centers. That led the Philadelphia Eagles to give Kelce a six-year, $37.5 million extension that will keep him in the city through the 2020 season.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kelce was rated by Pro Football Focus as the game’s best center in ’13. He’s an ideal fit athletically for Chip Kelly’s offense and is becoming one of the veteran leaders on the Eagles.

At just 26 years old, Kelce has a slew of Pro Bowl selections ahead of him.

Kelce is now the game’s fifth-highest-paid center in terms of average annual value. He trails Ryan Kalil, Nick Mangold, Max Unger and Eric Wood, all of whom are definite top-10 centers in the game.

Kelce’s $10.9 million in guaranteed cash comes out to just 27.7 percent of his overall contract, which makes it one of the team-friendlier deals of any center in the game.

Re-signing Kelce wasn’t the issue, as he was a lock to get an extension based on his outstanding play in ’13. However, Roseman really made a great signing here, getting Kelce for a tremendous price while limiting his guaranteed money.

Grade: A



Riley Cooper

What a span of six months it has been for Riley Cooper. He went from being public enemy No. 1 to getting a five-year contract extension from the Philadelphia Eagles.

In between, Cooper flourished like no one expected. His final regular-season numbers aren't eye-popping, as he finished with 47 receptions (tied for 51st), 835 yards (32nd) and eight touchdowns (tied for 13th). However, he did most of that work after Week 5, becoming a bona fide downfield weapon once Foles took over as quarterback.

He entered the season showing no signs that he was anything more than a marginal fourth receiver in the league.

Cooper averaged 17.8 yards per reception, third-best along qualifying wide receivers. He peaked in the middle of the season, grabbing five touchdowns in a two-game span, including three in Foles' record-tying performance against Oakland.

That earned Cooper a five-year extension worth $25 million, including about $10 million guaranteed. The base salary of about $5 million per year puts Cooper on par with receivers like Danny Amendola, Nate Washington and Lance Moore.

It ranks 35th among wide receivers in average net value per year. That’s a very reasonable signing for the Eagles.

What makes his contract a pretty solid deal is the fact that it is essentially a two-year, $9 million deal. If he's not producing at that point, Spotrac indicates that Philly can cut him at just a $2.4 million cap hit

Cooper's rapport with Foles can't go overlooked either. Foles posted a ridiculous 141.7 passer rating when throwing to Cooper, which rates as the single best mark in the league between a quarterback and a wide receiver.

It still remains to be seen what the Eagles will do with their other free-agent wide receiver, Jeremy Maclin. CSNPhilly.com suggests the team is nearing agreement on a one-year deal for Maclin. Then again, a conflicting report by the Philadelphia Inquirer a week ago also said that Cooper was likely to walk while Maclin would stay.

For Maclin's sake, it makes sense to remain in Philadelphia. Chip Kelly's offense proved its worth in 2013, coaxing breakout seasons out of Foles and Cooper, and a career-best year out of DeSean Jackson.

The ideal situation if Maclin re-signs is that he plays the slot, with Jackson and Cooper on the outside. Cooper won't break away from any cornerbacks, but he excelled at bringing down the jump ball in '13.

According to Pro Football Focus, the only receivers with more touchdowns on deep passes (20-plus yards) were A.J. Green, Josh Gordon, and Jackson. That, and Cooper's uncanny connection with Foles, justifies his re-signing.

Grade: B+

 

Unless otherwise noted, salary information courtesy of Over the Cap.

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