Analyzing Philadelphia Eagles' Next Big Contract Extensions
The core of the ’12 draft class will be due for contract extensions, and at least four players seem to be in line for new deals. Quarterback Nick Foles will have the opportunity to cash in the most, but up-and-coming defensive players Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks and Brandon Boykin should warrant long-term extensions.
The NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement won’t allow the Eagles to extend those players until after year three of their rookie deals. Philadelphia could always let any of the four play out the 2015 season—although that then allows the chance of one of the athletes testing out the free-agent market.
Based on the quality of their performance and the nature of NFL contracts, here’s a look at what kind of money the Eagles may have to dish out next season.
Obviously the quarterback will command the big money, and if Nick Foles can come close to his 2013 numbers, he’s going to be among the highest-paid players at his position.
Foles went from being a third-round rookie to a Pro Bowl player by year two; in fact, he was a record-setting quarterback who threw touchdown passes at an uncanny rate.
Chip Kelly’s offense obviously was a huge factor in Foles’ success. The offensive line put up a 100 percent success rate in terms of game-by-game health and DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy and Riley Cooper all put up career-best numbers.
Foles will never have the ideal mobility to succeed at the quarterback position, but if he can shred opposing defenses with his pinpoint accuracy then he’s the long-term solution. A realistic option would be a contract extension similar to the one Jay Cutler or Colin Kaepernick got; that would be a six or seven-year deal worth close to $120 million, but more like one to three years in actual guaranteed money.
Then again, the team could always wait.
The Baltimore Ravens tried that with Joe Flacco, and it worked to the tune of a Super Bowl championship (although Baltimore then had to pay Flacco over $120 million).
Maybe Kelly believes he can simply draft a quarterback in 2015 and groom him to be the long-term answer, which would allow Foles to move on from the franchise.
Prediction: Six Years, $109 Million, $28 Million Guaranteed
The Philadelphia Eagles’ first-round pick in 2012 has been a very good defensive player in his two seasons. He debuted as a 4-3 tackle and switched to 3-4 end last year.
Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Fletcher Cox was tied for third among all 3-4 ends in quarterback pressures (39) in 2013. Cox plays the run and the pass well, and a case could be made that he’s the best defensive player on the Eagles.
A good starting point for Cox’s extension may be the $34 million the Cleveland Browns gave Desmond Bryant over five years; that’s an average of $6.8 million per season and would make Cox the third-highest paid 3-4 end in the league.
Prediction: Five Years, $38 Million, $20 Million Guaranteed
After a solid rookie season as the team’s nickel cornerback, Brandon Boykin played at a Pro Bowl level in 2013. He registered six interceptions—more than any other corner except for Richard Sherman.
Two of those interceptions clinched last-second wins against NFC East opponents, and the final one, in Week 17, gave the Philadelphia Eagles a division title. Boykin did all this from the slot, which means he registered six turnovers in barely 50 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.
Playing Boykin on the outside could increase his market value, as it would make him a more versatile player. The Eagles seem committed to Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher (or Nolan Carroll) on the outside, which will keep Boykin in the slot role against smaller, quicker receivers.
Nickel cornerbacks don’t typically get high-market deals, although what Casey Hayward of the Green Bay Packers commands could set the tone for Boykin.
Prediction: Four Years, $19 Million, $9 Million Guaranteed
The Philadelphia Eagles have gotten inconsistent play thus far from Mychal Kendricks, and 2014 will go a long way in seeing if he’s worthy of a long-term extension with the club.
Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Kendricks has rated poorly. He was the 42nd-rated 4-3 outside linebacker in ’12—finishing as the second-worst player at his position. Last year, he overcame a horrendous start to rank 36th among 55 qualifying inside linebackers.
Reasons for optimism include his phenomenal finish to the season; he registered three sacks and three interceptions in the final three contests. He’s fast enough to keep up with tight ends (although he could still stand to improve in pass coverage and tackling). If Kendricks can play fundamentally-sound football in 2014, he should be in line for a solid contract.
Per Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Kendricks has been calling plays this spring, which is a job normally reserved for veteran DeMeco Ryans. Kendricks is just 23 years old and has the athleticism to make Eagles fans think he’s a future Pro Bowl player.
Prediction: Five Years, $30 Million, $12 Million Guaranteed
Cedric Thornton is a restricted free agent after the 2014 season, and he’s played well enough recently to think he has a long-term future with the Philadelphia Eagles. Thornton blossomed into a quality run-stopping 3-4 end a year ago—rating by Pro Football Focus (subscription required) as the third-best player in stopping the run.
The key for Thornton will be developing into more of a threat on passing downs where he’s almost non-existent and, as a result, is usually removed for Vinny Curry. Still, a modest extension for Thornton should be in the works. He’s a blossoming young player who plays well in a three or four-man front.
Prediction: Three Years, $12 Million, $5 Million Guaranteed
Jeremy Maclin could be in line for a big payday if everything clicks for 2014. But if he fails to recover from his ACL injury, he may have to settle for a one-year deal in free agency to prove he’s capable of producing at a top level.
Maclin will enter next season as the No. 1 receiver in an explosive offense. He won’t have DeSean Jackson opposite him, and defenses will be able to focus more on Maclin with no bonafide deep threat on the roster.
Maclin has been productive during his four healthy seasons despite never reaching 1,000 yards. If he does pass the 1,000-yard mark, he will likely be rewarded handsomely in the open market. After all, he will be just 26 years old even by next offseason.
An early prediction is that Maclin puts up good, not great, numbers, and the Philadelphia Eagles allow him to walk in free agency.
Prediction (from another team): Three Years, $20 Million, $11 Million Guaranteed