Philly gives rising receiver 5-year extension

The Philadelphia Eagles have signed second-year wide receiver Greg Lewis, a player the coaching staff views as an emerging talent, to a five-year contract extension, ESPN.com has learned.

The deal, financial details of which were not immediately available, is typical of the kind of early extensions for which the Eagles have become noted. Because he is only in his second year, and was signed through the '05 season, there was no real threat that Lewis would exit the Eagles until the 2007 season, when he would have been eligible for unrestricted free agency.

Still, the Eagles do a better job of any team in the NFL of identifying talented players early in their careers and attempting to negotiate long-term extensions even if the player still has one or two seasons remaining on his original deal. Lewis is the latest example of that philosophy, one that rarely has backfired on Eagles officials.

Lewis, 24, made the Philadelphia roster in 2003 as an undrafted free agent, one of six players to do so. The former University of Illinois standout appeared in 11 games during his rookie season, catching six passes for 95 yards.

In six games this season, including one start, Lewis has five receptions for 57 yards. He is also a standout performer on special teams.

While the Philadelphia wide receiver corps is deeper than it has been in years, especially with the acquisition of Terrell Owens in the offseason, Lewis continues to log consistent snaps, principally in four-wideout formations. And since it could be difficult for the team to retain all of its veteran wide receivers in future seasons, securing Lewis' services for the long term provides some degree of continuity.

So what seems like an investment in a relatively midlevel player could return future dividends for the Eagles.

This is typically the time of the season in which Eagles team president Joe Banner, arguably the NFL's premier salary cap manager, negotiates contract extensions with a few key players. By doing so, he makes use of the salary cap space the Eagles always seem to have available at midseason, since it does not carry over to the following year.

There are several other potential extensions on which Banner is working, but it is not believed that a deal is close for starting defensive tackle Corey Simon, who is in the final year of his original NFL contract.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click hereInsider.