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What Vinny Curry's contract extension means for the Eagles

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The Eagles locked up Vinny Curry. Now what?

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Vinny Curry got paid a lot of money. The Philadelphia Eagles signed their 27-year-old defensive end to a five-year contract worth up to $46.25 million with $23 million guaranteed. Here are some thoughts on Curry's new deal.

The Eagles are playing a 4-3

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz already confirmed this notion in a radio interview last week. Curry's re-signing is just another reminder that the Eagles are going back to the 4-3.

Vinny Curry is finally a starter

Curry struggled to get playing time under Jim Washburn as a rookie. Then he was miscast as a 3-4 defensive end in Chip Kelly's preferred two-gap 3-4 defense. Now Curry is finally back where he belongs: as a 4-3 defensive end. And based on all the money he's being paid, Curry figures to get a lot more playing time. He's making starter's money now.

The Eagles are paying for Curry's potential

This is no different than the theme behind the Eagles' extensions for Zach Ertz and Lane Johnson. These players are being rewarded for more than just their past performance. They're also being paid what they're projected to be moving forward.

There's no question Curry deserves his money. He's been an incredibly effective pass rusher in limited snaps. In 2015, Curry finished second among 3-4 defensive ends in Pass Rush Productivity, which is a Pro Football Focus stat that measures pressure created on a per snap basis with weighting toward sacks. He generated 49 pressures in just 340 pass rush opportunities. Only J.J. Watt finished above Curry in PRP. Curry finished fifth in this metric in 2014 and second in 2013.

Quarterback is obviously the most important position in all of sports. Pass rushers are the biggest enemy of the quarterback, so naturally they're very valuable as well. You can't have too many good pass rushers.

How does Connor Barwin fit in?

It would seem the Eagles currently have three starters at defensive end: Curry, Brandon Graham, and Connor Barwin. So who is the odd man out, if anyone? Graham has always been a more natural 4-3 defensive end, so maybe it's Barwin who doesn't fit in. Then again, Barwin has experience as a 4-3 defensive end. Brian Kelly moved Barwin from tight end to defensive end in college. Barwin also played 377 snaps as an end during his first two seasons with the Houston Texans. Some have suggested he can play SAM linebacker. Maybe the Eagles would consider trading Barwin. Barwin is obviously a leader in the locker room and a great guy off the field, so the team won't exactly be itching to move on. His fit and playing time in the new scheme remains to be determined, however.

Fletcher Cox is next ... right?

It was reported last week that Cox and the Eagles are close on a new deal. A more recent report indicates the deal could be worth over $100 million. Now that Ertz, Johnson, Curry, and Celek have gotten new deals, Cox is certainly next, right? One would think so. Bennie Logan and Malcolm Jenkins could also be potential contract extension candidates, though.

Overall

It's weird how we got to this point. For a long time, everyone thought Curry was going to be gone. And for good reason. Curry clearly wasn't an ideal fit as a full-time player in Kelly's 3-4 defense. Now Curry finds himself back in a scheme where he should excel.

Curry is a fan-favorite for good reason. He's a local guy and he grew up rooting for the Birds. He's a fun personality both on social media and in real life. Curry leads the Eagles pregame huddles and gets everyone fired up. It's cool to see the Eagles reward a player like this.