The Philadelphia Eagles' recent decision to give Fletcher Cox a large amount of money was not unlike other decisions made by the team this offseason. In fact, the Birds have spent more guaranteed money than any other team in the NFL this offseason and it's not even close.
Most Guaranteed Money Given Out since Jan 1, 2016— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 13, 2016
As you can see, the Eagles have spent nearly twice as much in guaranteed money as the next closest team.
So how did the Eagles end up with this high figure? It started with Philadelphia's priority on rewarding in-house talent. The Birds handed out contract extensions to Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Lane Johnson, Vinny Curry, and Malcolm Jenkins. Sam Bradford was re-signed as well. Then the Eagles went on a big shopping spree in free agency. They brought in additions such as Rodney McLeod, Brandon Brooks, Chase Daniel, Leodis McKelvin, Nigel Bradham, Ron Brooks, Rueben Randle, Stefen Wisniewski, and Chris Givens. Then the 2016 NFL Draft came into play. Carson Wentz instantly got $26.7 million guaranteed for being the No. 2 overall pick. The rest of the Eagles' rookies and undrafted rookie free agent signings accounted for over $2 million. Lastly, but not leastly, the Eagles signed Cox.
Spending big money doesn't always equate to winning. Plenty of teams spend big in free agency each year only to have it blow up in their face. See: the 2011 and 2015 Eagles. But the organization does deserve some credit for being aggressive. The Eagles certainly can't be called cheap.
Also consider that spending money now can potentially help the Eagles save money in the future. Rewarding in-house players with contracts before they're due is a calculated risk. On one hand, the team is paying for potential and the player might not live up to the deal. On the other hand, the Eagles won't have to pay the open market cost and the player can potentially outperform the deal. There's also the culture (Hi, Chip!) benefit of a team working hard to keep their own. The strategy incentivizes players to work hard because they know their organization will take care of them if they play well.
Of course, just because this all sounds good in theory doesn't mean it will all work out. It remains to be seen if the Eagles spent money on the right players. The guy actually paying the money sure hopes so.