February 28, 2014 in NFL Personnel
By Staff Writer Matt Pearce:
As free agency looms, teams continue to be active re-signing and releasing players to get ready for the free agency period.
Philadelphia Eagles re-sign OT Jason Peters, C Jason Kelce and WR Riley Cooper
In the biggest news of the week, the Eagles signed their starting left tackle to a four-year contract extension.
While he wasn't set to become a free agent, the 32-year old had just one year left on his contract. This new extension is an additional four years on top of this season. The total value of the four years is $51.3 million with $19.55 million guaranteed. His old contract called for him to make $10 million this season, and this is part of the guaranteed money.
When he entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent tight end with the Buffalo Bills, he received a signing bonus of just $5,000, so he has seen a major pay increase from then.
After playing his first five seasons for the Bills, he was traded to the Eagles for first, fourth and sixth-round picks. Right after this trade, the Eagles signed him to a six-year contract worth $60 million. This was the contact that was set to end at the end of the upcoming season.
With the Eagles, he has started 58 games in four seasons of play. He missed the entire 2012 season after rupturing his Achilles tendon not once, but twice in the offseason. The first time came in March and the second time came in May while recovering from the initial injury.
This season, his comeback was made more complicating because the Eagles hired a new head coach, Chip Kelly. After a slow start in the first six games of the season, Peters went on a tear for the rest of the season and finished as the fourth-highest graded offensive tackle this season according to Pro Football Season.
Kelly's new scheme proved to be a fit for Peters and now his performance has been rewarded with another big contract. Seeing that he will be 36-years old when this contract ends, it is likely that he retires with the Eagles. Paying about $10 million per year to an offensive tackle over the age of 30 seems to be a bit much, but if he can continue his performance from last season, he will be more than worth it.
Just one day after re-signing Peters, the Eagles moved to the interior of their offensive line by signing Kelce to a six-year contract extension.
Like Peters, Kelce was about to enter the final year of his contract. Now, the 26-year old has six more years, on top of this season meaning he will be in Philadelphia through the 2020 season.
The value of this six-year extension is $37.5 million with $13 million guaranteed. This places him amongst the top-five centers in terms of contracts.
His performance has definitely warranted this type of deal. Since being drafted by the Eagles in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, he has solidified their center position. He started all 16 games his rookie season. The following year, he started the first two games of he season, but suffered a season-ending knee injury in week two.
This season saw him bounce back and gain top form as he started all 16 games and Pro Football Focus graded him as the number one center in the league thanks to his dominant run blocking and overall consistent play. In his very limited playing time in 2012, he showed this ability, but the injury cut his season short.
For the Eagles, this contract makes sense as they lock up their starting center who happens to be one of the best in the league. He has been a great fit in Kelly's offensive scheme. It is a win for both sides as Kelce gets a top-tier contract for a center and the Eagles get to keep him around.
With these two signings, the Eagles now have their entire starting offensive line––one of the best units in the league––signed through the 2016 season.
Along with signing Kelce on Thursday, the Eagles continued their work by re-signing Cooper to a five-year contract.
This five-year deal is worth a total of $25 million making an easy average of $5 million per year. There is $8 million in guaranteed money.
Drafted in the fifth-round of the 2010 NFL Draft, his first season as a full-time starter came this season––and that was only due to a season-ending injury to Jeremy Maclin.
Replacing him in the starting lineup, the 26-year old Cooper caught 47 passes for 835 yards and eight touchdowns. He quickly became a favorite target of quarterback Nick Foles.
Against the Oakland Raiders this season, Cooper had a career-day that saw him catch five passes for 139 yards and three touchdowns.
At the beginning of the season, a contract like this would have been unimaginable for him. In the offseason, he was recorded saying a racial slur and took time off from the team. He soon rejoined his team and earned a starting spot due to Maclin's injury. Now, he has a $25 million contract.
This move makes sense for the Eagles as Foles clearly liked to throw to Cooper. They are both young so they can keep this combination intact for years to come now.
Next up for the Eagles is attempting to re-sign Maclin. They are reported to have made progress recently, so it will be interesting to see what they can accomplish.
OT Jordan Gross retires
While one top offensive tackle has been re-signed, another has announced his retirement after 11 seasons in the NFL.
One of the three offensive tackles that graded out better than Peters this season was the 33-year old Gross––who was the third-highest.
After being drafted by the Carolina Panthers with the eighth overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, he has missed just nine games in his 11 seasons. During these 11 seasons, he made 167 starts––a Panthers' record––at both right and left tackle. (He only played right tackle for his rookie season.)
A three-time Pro Bowl player (2008, 2010 and 2013) and a one-time first-team All-Pro (2008), he was the rock of the Panthers' offensive line for many years.
During his rookie season, the Panthers made it to Super Bowl XXXVIII where they lost 32-29 against the New England Patriots.
Over the past few seasons, he has helped stabilize an offensive line that has seen many injuries and reshuffling. His retirement leaves the Panthers without a true left tackle on their roster. It is likely that they draft one this year in what is a deep class for offensive tackles.
The Baltimore Ravens release LB Jameel McClain.
The Baltimore Ravens release FB Vonta Leach.
The Carolina Panthers sign S Anderson Russell.
The Chicago Bears re-sign C Taylor Boggs.
The Chicago Bears re-sign S Derrick Martin.
The Chicago Bears re-sign C Roberto Garza.
The Chicago Bears re-sign TE Dante Rosario.
The Cleveland Browns release LB D’Qwell Jackson.
The Detroit Lions sign S Isa Abdul-Quddus.
The Detroit Lions re-sign LS Don Muhlbach.
The Green Bay Packers re-sign S Chris Banjo.
The Houston Texans sign TE Zach Potter.
The Oakland Raiders re-sign CB Taiwan Jones.
The San Francisco 49ers re-sign C Daniel Kilgore.
The Tennessee Titans re-sign RB Jackie Battle.
The Washington Redskins re-sign DE Chris Baker.