The Philadelphia Eagles made big news on Saturday morning by inking Alshon Jeffery to a four-year contract extension. Here are some thoughts on the deal.
1 - ALSHON JEFFERY IS HERE TO STAY
The simple takeaway is that Jeffery is now under contract through the 2021 season. That’s great.
Jeffery was scheduled to be a free agent after the 2017 season since he originally only signed a one-year deal with the Eagles. Now the Eagles will have some more continuity at the wide receiver position.
Such continuity might not be meaningless. Look at Carson Wentz’s most efficient receiving targets in 2017: Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor. Both of those guys were here for Wentz’s rookie season.
Conversely, it’s taken time for Jeffery and Wentz to really get on the same page. That might be attributed to Jeffery missing a sizeable chunk of training camp practices. In any case, the connection between the quarterback and the receiver has been looking real good recently. Jeffery has 17 receptions for 265 yards and five touchdowns in his last four games.
The Eagles clearly feel Jeffery and Wentz are a good long-term pairing. Note that Jeffery turns 28 in February and Wentz turns 25 later this month.
If the Eagles didn’t re-sign Jeffery, they’d still need to find a No. 1 wide receiver type this offseason.
2 - CULTURE PLAYED A FACTOR HERE
I think it’s fair to say Jeffery’s role as a culture guy on this team has been kind of surprising. That’s not to suggest he was previously thought of as a locker room cancer. Coming from Chicago, it just seemed like he was kind of a quiet guy who went about his business in a routine manner.
In Philadelphia, however, Jeffery has been a real important part of this locker room. He’s the one choreographing touchdown celebrations for the entire offense. Players seem to really enjoy his company.
Jeffery has also really endeared himself to the fan base as well. I mean, how could you NOT want the Eagles to re-sign the dude who wore a Brian Dawkins shirt after beating the Cowboys and said “They ain't f***ing with us. Ain't nobody f***ing with us. Anybody. That's how we feel.”
Alshon just gets it. Not every athlete in this city does.
By the way, this is why the original one-year deal was a great move by Howie Roseman. Upon signing Jeffery, Roseman talked about the importance of getting to know the wide receiver, and Jeffery getting to know the organization as well. The Eagles were able to see his work ethic, his behavior, his on-field production, etc. up close before committing to a long-term deal. They gleaned extra information before making a big commitment. Smart.
3 - THE MONEY IS REASONABLE
BGN’s own Benjamin Solak is going to have a more comprehensive breakdown of Jeffery’s contract situation in his own post, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, here are Jeffery’s contract details via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the deal will result in more than $26 million being fully guaranteed to Jeffery if he’s still on the roster on the third day of the 2018 league year. If he’s not, he’ll walk away with $14 million in new money for, essentially, the final five games of the regular season and however many playoff games the Eagles play.
Here’s the full breakdown of the new deal:
1. Signing bonus of $6.25 million.
2. $1 million prorated base salary for the balance of the 2017 season, fully guaranteed. (His existing 2017 salary was unchanged.)
3. $6.5 million option bonus for 2018, fully guaranteed at signing.
4. $1.25 million base salary for 2018, fully guaranteed at signing.
5. $250,000 workout bonus for 2018, fully guaranteed.
6. $11.75 million base salary for 2019, guaranteed for injury at signing. It becomes fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2018 league year.
7. $250,000 workout bonus for 2019, fully guaranteed.
8. $12.75 million base salary for 2020, $1 million of which is guaranteed for injury at signing. The $1 million becomes fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2019 league year.
9. $250,000 workout bonus for 2020.
10. $12.75 million base salary for 2021.
11. $250,000 workout bonus for 2021.
12. $1 million in incentives. (Of the $4.5 million in incentives under his current deal, Jeffery had reached $250,000.)
Jeffery’s average salary of $13 million puts him seventh among current NFL wide receivers. This certainly isn’t a total bargain, which is to be expected. One thing to keep in mind (which Solak will write about in more detail), however, is that a number of big name receivers are expected to get new deals after this season. Signing Jeffery now is about beating the market to the punch.
4 - THE WIDE RECEIVING CORPS IS SET MOVING FORWARD
The extension obviously don’t change much for this season. Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and Nelson Agholor are the main three guys.
Rookie wideout Mack Hollins has done some impressive things this season, though, and his playing time is starting to increase. He nearly had a 50-50 split in terms of snaps last week.
Looking beyond 2017, Smith is probably gone after this season. He’s due $5 million in 2018 and none of it is guaranteed. Philadelphia’s cap situation is tight (more on that later) so the Eagles will need to save that money.
Smith only has 22 receptions this season for 279 yards and two touchdowns. Pro Football Focus has him down for five drops through 11 games. His drop rate ranks seventh worst in the NFL.
Hollins possesses the necessary speed and big play ability to replace Smith’s role as a deep threat. 2017 fifth-round pick Shelton Gibson is also still on the roster, as is training camp standout Marcus Johnson. Those two guys have flashed deep speed in practice but are largely untested in real game action.
It’s possible that Jeffery and Hollins will be the Eagles’ outside starting receivers for the considerable future. Jeffery is signed through 2021 now and Hollins is obviously a rookie. Agholor is also locked in as well. As a former first-round pick, Philly’s slot receiver is under team control through 2019 if/when the Eagles decide to activate his fifth-year option.
5 - THE EAGLES HAVE LOCKED UP A STRONG CORE
Part of the reason the Eagles don’t have a ton of cap space is that they’ve paid a lot of their own guys. That’s the cost of locking up a strong core. Considering the Eagles are currently 10-1, it’s easy to say that money has been well spent.
20 of 22 Eagles starters are now signed through at least 2018. Nigel Bradham and LeGarrette Blount are the only ones who are not.— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) December 2, 2017
Eagles players signed through at least 2020: QB Carson Wentz, WR Alshon Jeffery, TE Zach Ertz, RT Lane Johnson, C Jason Kelce, G Brandon Brooks, DT Fletcher Cox, DE Vinny Curry, DT Timmy Jernigan, DE Derek Barnett, S Malcolm Jenkins, S Rodney McLeod. Stacked roster.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) December 2, 2017
The Eagles have identified their most crucial players and signed them to long-term deals in order to achieve sustained success. The hope is that this franchise won’t just be a one-season wonder, but instead a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
6 - THE EAGLES STILL HAVE SOME IMPORTANT DECISIONS TO MAKE
The Eagles have locked up two of their most critical free agents, Jeffery and Tim Jernigan, with in-season contract extensions.
They still have a number of decisions to make after this season, however.
Starting linebacker Nigel Bradham sticks out as a key name to re-sign. The question is: will the Eagles have enough money to do it?
Philadelphia currently has $2,627,587 in cap space, which will be rolled over to 2018 if it goes unused the rest of this season. Prior to the Jeffery deal, Over The Cap projected Jeffery to have -$415,507 (yes, negative cap space) in 2018.
This means that salary cap casualty cuts are coming. The Eagles have big decisions to make on players such as Jason Peters ($5.3 million savings if cut), Vinny Curry ($5 million savings if cut), Nick Foles ($5.2 million savings if traded), etc.
Bradham isn’t the only player the Eagles have to make a decision on in terms of re-signing, either. Philadelphia might have to let key role players such as Patrick Robinson, Beau Allen, and Trey Burton walk in free agency.
And then there’s the case of a player like Brandon Graham. The Eagles are reportedly working on a much-deserved contract extension with him, so that’s even more cap space to account for.
How it all plays out remains to be seen. There’s still a lot of football left in 2017 for things to be decided. Roseman has been pretty good when it comes to managing the Eagles’ cap situation so he deserves a level of trust while navigating through all of this.
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