Philadelphia Eagles Lock up Key Free Agents

Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles have been the first team in the NFL to start locking up their players about to enter the free agent market. Over the past week the Eagles have given contract extensions to offensive lineman Jason Peters and Jason Kelce and wide receiver Riley Cooper. Head coach Chip Kelly still has a looming decision though in another wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who is coming off a torn ACL that caused him to miss the entire 2013 season and is also about to enter the free agent market if the Eagles do not sign him to an extension before the start of free agency.

A lot has changed from the 2013 offseason to 2014 for the Philadelphia Eagles.  Last offseason they had just fired longtime Head Coach Andy Reid and hired first time NFL coach Chip Kelly.  In 2013 they were coming off a disappointing 4-12 record; however, this offseason they are coming off a 10-6 regular season that saw them claim the NFC East title and make their first playoff appearance since 2010.

New head coach Chip Kelly brought in a lot of institutional changes that really made their offense explode mid-way through the season. Although their offense began to slow down near the end of the year and they exited the playoffs in the first round, the spirits are high in the city of brotherly love about their Philadelphia Eagles.

With all the changes in the team over the course of the past year organizationally this offseason the Eagles have made strides to retain consistency in personnel by locking up key free agents. Clearly Kelly was impressed enough with Kelce, Peters and Cooper over the past season to want to retain them. The biggest surprise in these signings is Jason Peters, not because of his talent, which is obvious, but because of the money and length of his contract extension. Usually offensive lineman who are already 32 are not rewarded with five year contracts, but clearly the Eagles still see the tackle as a big part of their future.

Considering the controversy that Riley Cooper stirred up summer it came as a surprise to some that the Eagles were willing to lock him up long term, giving him a five-year deal. Some will remember Cooper getting caught on camera shouting racial slurs at a Kenny Chesney concert.  People quickly forgot about that once the season kicked off when Cooper began to make plays on the field. This year Cooper had his breakout season catching 47 balls for 835 yards and eight touchdowns, after only catching 46 balls in his previous three seasons in the NFL.

Even though the Eagles have been busy so far this offseason they still have one key decision looming in Philadelphia, whether or not to extend wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and for how long. One interesting dynamic that makes these negotiations a little different is the fact that the Eagles are targeting a multi-year contract where as Maclin is actually seeking a one-year deal. Usually in the NFL this is the complete opposite, but Maclin has a little different set of circumstances.

Maclin missed the entire 2013 season, which was the last year on his rookie contract. Because the rookie contract is scaled to where a player is selected in the draft and even if selected first the contract isn’t all that impressive since the new collective bargaining agreement the second contract is the first chance for the players to get a big multi-year contract.  So the last year of the rookie contract is a player’s final chance to prove to teams that he deserves the big money he is hoping to be paid.  Maclin, however, did not get that chance because of the ACL injury.  So his hope is that he can get a one-year deal so that he can prove hi worth in the long-term and eventually get that coveted multi-year deal.

In the next couple of days the NFL will see more of this with other teams in negotiations with their free agents to be to try and hold on or let them go.  It seems as though it was a major priority for the Philadelphia Eagles to lock up their key free agents early so that Chip Kelly could continue the success he and the organization enjoyed last year.  It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming days in the negotiation with Jeremy Maclin.

Commentary By Max Petkevicius



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