The offseason got off to a fine start this week for the new look Eagles and their “collaborative” approach. Howie Roseman has always done a nice job locking up the younger players on the team and doing it in a team friendly manner as it relates to the salary cap. Make no mistake Roseman is the general manager of this football team regardless of who is hired soon for the player personnel position. He started off the week by signing tight end Zach Ertz to a 5 year, $42 million extension. The 25 year old Ertz will be the fourth highest paid tight end in the league as it stands right now based on the deal he inked. Ertz is now signed through the 2021 season and earned $21 million in guaranteed money. The Stanford product came on strong late in the 2015 season after missing all of the preseason with a sports hernia injury along with a concussion during the middle portion of the season as well. For the season he finished with 75 catches and 853 yards, but only two touchdowns. I have no real complaints about this signing as it’s a clear sign the Doug Pederson offense is going to emphasize the tight end position in a more traditional fashion. However, Ertz needs to continue improving his run blocking if he’s going to be the well-rounded tight end which his contract reflects. Interestingly enough Pederson’s former team, the Chiefs, inked Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce to a 5 year, $46 million extension on Friday afternoon. We can only hope Ertz has the type of impact that Kelce had under Pederson.
Roseman continued his spending at the tight end position by agreeing to a new 3 year, $13 million deal with lifelong Eagle Brent Celek. Both my co-blogger and I are huge Celek fans so this move gets nothing but applause from our end. Celek is a professional in every sense of the word and is also one of the better blocking tight ends in the league to boot. He helps to alleviate some of the pressure from Ertz in terms of blocking. Celek’s presence allows Ertz to go out more often in the passing game where his strengths lie. Number 87 will now be in an Eagles uniform through the 2018 season and his new contract guarantees him $6 million. Celek reflected back to the years when Pederson was coaching the quarterbacks and the great communication which existed between the two especially for the offensive schemes.
Last but not least right tackle Lane Johnson put pen to paper on Friday for his new 5 year, $63 million extension guaranteeing him the most money in the league for the right tackle position at $35.5 million. Johnson is now signed through the 2021 season similar to Ertz. This signing is more indicative of his eventual move over to left tackle after the departure of Pro Bowler Jason Peters which may come as soon as this upcoming season. Johnson has been solid in his three NFL seasons thus far especially considering the three picks which went ahead of him in the 2013 draft. Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel and Dion Jordan have all been busts. He needs to continue improving and cut down on his penalties, but other than that I agree with locking up the big Oklahoman. An upgrade in talent along the offensive line would certainly help Johnson as well and I expect the Eagles will address that position throughout the offseason.
Next up look for Howie to switch to the defensive side of the ball and focus on Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Cox is long overdue for a huge payday and rumors have been swirling that a deal could be completed sooner rather than later. I don’t see any possible way the Eagles let Cox hit the open market especially with the hire of new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Unrestricted free agent Vinny Curry is a high priority as well since the defense will be switching back to 4-3 and Curry’s snaps will dramatically rise should he remain in midnight green. Bennie Logan may be in the mix for an extension as well entering the final year of his four year rookie contract. Logan, Cox and Curry would make for a pretty damn good front four and most importantly all under the age of 30.
Lastly, at the Senior Bowl in Mobile this week a candidate emerged for the Eagles front office position. That man is Brandon Hunt who has served as the pro personnel coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2010. Personally, I wouldn’t mind this hire the Steelers have a long history of building their championship contending teams through the draft just like I would prefer the Eagles do. Hunt has a leg up on the other candidates as it’s been reported Tom Donahoe has a major influence on the search and also has previous ties to the Steelers organization. Either way I don’t believe Hunt will be calling the shots for the front office instead working he’ll be working under Howie Roseman in some capacity. Stay tuned for more possible extensions and front office moves.
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