Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox has been with the Philadelphia Eagles since they selected him 12th overall in the 2012 draft. The franchise ensured Monday that he'll remain in Philly for the foreseeable future, signing him to a new contract through the 2022 season.
The signing bonus is worth $26 million, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. $55.54 million of the deal will be fully guaranteed by March, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, who added $36.29 million is fully guaranteed after signing.
Albert Breer of NFL Network reported the $17.13 million annual value is second to Ndamukong Suh among interior defensive linemen.
Before the new deal, Cox was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2016 season. However, he discussed his desire to stay in Philadelphia early in the offseason with Around the NFL (via Conor Orr of NFL.com): “I wanna be there, that's where I want to be—for the long haul. I think the team wants me there, everyone wants me there from the owner all the way down.”
Orr noted Cox would have been one of the most sought-after free agents available if the Eagles didn't sign him to an extension before the end of the 2016 season. He specifically pointed to Cox's versatility when describing why he would stand out on the open market.
During the offseason, doubt arose that Cox would sign an extension with Philadelphia. 94WIP Philadelphia's Howard Eskin claimed in April (via CBS Philadelphia's Andrew Porter) that the defensive lineman turned down a deal worth more than $60 million guaranteed. Eskin said Cox's agent, Todd France, was heavily involved in the decision to turn down that deal.
Eskin said France also represented other defensive linemen around the league and wanted to set the market for his other clients with a lucrative deal for Cox. Negotiating a record-setting contract for the 25-year-old should do the trick.
The Associated Press named Cox to the All-NFL second team in each of the last two seasons. He made his first Pro Bowl following a 2015 campaign in which he racked up 71 total tackles, 9.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, per Pro-Football-Reference.com.
His durability in an injury-riddled league is critical for the Eagles defense. He played all 16 games for the third straight season in 2015 and set the tone up front.
The 6’4”, 300-pound monster stuffs the run up the middle, provides pressure in the face of opposing quarterbacks and occupies multiple blockers, which frees up his teammates on the edge. Cox also boasts solid speed and athleticism for his size and can burst past guards with a quick first step.
Cox played in a 3-4 system with the Eagles in 2015, but he was a star defensive tackle in Mississippi State’s 4-3 scheme as a collegiate player. The Eagles hired defensive line coach Chris Wilson this offseason, who served on Mississippi State’s coaching staff when Cox was in college.
Cox discussed the hire, per Dave Spadaro of the Philadelphia Eagles' official website:
He helped me tremendously. He helped me a whole lot. He made me a better man, first of all. He’s real big on that part of it. He wants everyone to be accountable and he wants everyone to be the best they can be on game day. He will push us every day. When I was in college, he pushed every player in the room every day and we saw the benefits.
The presence of Wilson likely made Philadelphia that much more of a desirable long-term location for Cox. Wilson may be an ideal hire, but keeping someone like Cox around for the foreseeable future is even more critical for a team that is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 7-9 campaign in 2015.