<
>

Byron Maxwell's contract is big, but might be worth it

17h

PHILADELPHIA -- On paper, the Philadelphia Eagles' contract with cornerback Byron Maxwell might not look so great for the team.

Maxwell’s six-year, $63 million deal made the list of worst NFL contracts compiled by Grantland’s Bill Barnwell. It was one of three Eagles contracts on the list, including those signed by running back DeMarco Murray and wide receiver Riley Cooper.

This is not meant to refute anything Barnwell wrote. He’s a pretty bright guy, and he makes reasonable points. But it might help to add a little perspective to the situation.

With Murray, for example, Barnwell’s point is that the Eagles overpaid based on Murray's "outlier" 2014 season. Prior to his league-leading, 1,800-yard season, Murray was injury-prone and missed three-to-four games per season.

But the alternative was to pay LeSean McCoy the nearly $11 million he was due for 2015. By trading McCoy to Buffalo and signing Murray and Ryan Mathews, the Eagles got two running backs for the price of one – while adding linebacker Kiko Alonso to their defense.

So yes, there’s the risk Murray will get hurt, but that risk was offset by the addition of Mathews. And Murray’s contract does not have the cap-busting jump in salary that McCoy’s included.

As for Maxwell, his deal is enormous when you look at his body of work. Maxwell has started a total of 17 NFL games. But when you consider that NFL teams used to routinely throw this kind of money at top draft picks with zero NFL experience, the contract is not all that outrageous.

At least so far, Chip Kelly has no regrets about shelling out for Maxwell. The Eagles’ secondary was a disaster by the end of the 2014 season. Having it blow up and cost him another season was not something Kelly was willing to risk.

Bear in mind, too, that Kelly was reportedly targeting New England safety Devin McCourty, whom Kelly described as the best safety in the NFL. McCourty stayed in New England, increasing the pressure on the Eagles to land at least one major upgrade for the secondary.

Maxwell benefited from that, no doubt. But he also showed during organized team activities and minicamp that he relishes the challenge of being a leader. In Seattle, he was behind Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in the defensive backs meetings. In Philadelphia, Maxwell is the man.

"He was our highest rated DB," Kelly said. "I think he’s got a great attitude. Loves to work. I think he’s got a great mindset in terms of how he approaches it. He’s one of the first guys in here every day. He’s a technician and spends a lot of time working on technique. We’re really excited to see him with full pads on."

That will happen, finally, when training camp opens next week.

The Eagles might have overpaid for Maxwell, but if he solidifies their secondary, they will consider it money well spent.