Thursday, May 17, 2012
Eagles taking care of their own, sign McCoy
By Dan Graziano
Those Philadelphia Eagles fans worried about a LeSean McCoy holdout can rest easy. The Eagles on Thursday night announced they have agreed to terms with their star running back on a five-year contract extension that runs through 2017. (He was already signed through 2012.) Adam Schefter is reporting it's a $45 million deal that includes $20.765 million in guarantees.
The Eagles could be a contender for years to come with several key young stars, like RB LeSean McCoy, signed to team-friendly contracts.
This is the latest internal signing for the Eagles in an offseason that has seen them extend the contracts of wide receiver DeSean Jackson, defensive end Trent Cole and right tackle Todd Herremans. They made little noise in outside free agency, and in fact, their biggest moves of that period were trades -- the acquisition of linebacker DeMeco Ryans and the dumping of cornerback Asante Samuel, whom they'd deemed a too-expensive extraneous piece. The money they're handing out this offseason is directed at keeping their young star players under control and happy for a long period of time.
This tells us a couple of things about the Eagles and where they think they are right now:
1. They really do like the roster that went 8-8 last season and believe it to be capable of much bigger things. The signings they made last offseason failed to make a 2011 splash, as the Eagles struggled at the start of the season with a bunch of new players, new coaches and new schemes. They have said many times that they believe the right thing to do is bring back relatively the same group of players and expect to build on the four-game winning streak with which they ended the season, and their offseason focus shows they're not just talking. They believe they have a strong roster that should win a lot of games.
2. The Eagles believe that not only will they be a strong title contender in 2012, but that this roster they have assembled is built to contend and win for years to come. They are determined to keep together their core of young stars because they're not worried about bottoming out this season, and having to blow up and start over with a new plan, a new coach, etc. Yes, if they flop again, Andy Reid could lose his job. But the Eagles are operating as though they do not believe that's a possibility, building for the future even as they adopt a win-now mentality.
3. If you're a young Eagles player, you can feel confident that the team isn't just blowing smoke when it tells you that you'll be taken care of. Players such as wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie can head into the 2012 season knowing that, if they perform on the field the way they and the team know they're capable of performing, the Eagles will be willing and able to give them long-term extensions and whatever level of security goes with that in the NFL. We don't know what will happen with those two players this season, but if they do great things, the money will be there for them.
The one gigantic question mark that remains is quarterback Michael Vick. He's going to turn 32 next month, and while he did sign a contract extension last summer, the Eagles are able to escape that at the end of this year with minimal remaining commitment if Vick doesn't look like the long-term answer. Undoubtedly, the Eagles' preference would be for Vick to accomplish tremendous things with this core group of young talent -- this year and in years to come. But if they struggle again and if Vick piles up the turnovers again, there's a chance someone different could be leading this group in 2013 and beyond.
However, by dishing out all these deals to players already on their roster, by locking up their best wide receiver and their star pass-rusher and the running back who scored a whopping 20 touchdowns for them this past season, they're also giving Vick the best possible chance to succeed. He will have a happy and hungry group of star players around him in 2012, and the Eagles believe they have spent this offseason setting the proper tone and putting the pieces in place to succeed in the short term and the long term. All that remains to be seen is how it all looks once the games start. And we won't know that for at least four more months.