NFL teams are now free to extend the rookie contracts of players selected in the 2013 draft, and the Eagles are interested in locking up a couple of their top ’13 draftees, according to Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com. Shorr-Parks reports that Philadelphia has prioritized getting new contracts done with offensive tackle Lane Johnson and tight end Zach Ertz.
In addition to Johnson and Ertz, defensive end Vinny Curry is also a top priority for the Eagles. Having been selected in the second round of the 2012 draft, Curry’s rookie contract is expiring this winter, and doesn’t feature a fifth-year option, so he’ll hit the open market in March if he and the Eagles can’t reach a new deal by then. According to Shorr-Parks, the Eagles have already made a contract offer to Curry in the hopes of getting something done. If he reaches the open market, the defensive end could draw interest from the Giants, among other teams, say Shorr-Parks.
Although Philadelphia is expected to make extension offers soon to Johnson and Ertz, getting something done with Johnson shouldn’t be an urgent item on the team’s to-do list. As a 2013 first-rounder, Johnson has a fifth-year option for 2017 on his rookie deal, so assuming the Eagles exercise that option, the offensive lineman will remain under team control for at least two more seasons.
The same can’t be said for Ertz though, who was a second-round pick. He’ll become eligible for unrestricted free agency a year from now if he and the Eagles don’t work something out. The 25-year-old tight end is coming off a career year, having caught 75 passes for 853 yards in 2015.
As for Curry, his overall numbers took a hit in 2015 — after recording nine sacks and four forced fumbles in 2014, he had 3.5 and zero, respectively, this past season. Still, Pro Football Focus graded him 10th among interior defensive linemen as a pass-rusher, so he was putting pressure on quarterbacks even if he wasn’t bringing them down.
PFF also ranked Johnson 24th among offensive tackles, out of 81 qualified players at the position. The former fourth overall pick could become the Eagles’ full-time left tackle if and when the team decides to move on from Jason Peters, so locking up Johnson sooner rather than later, while not absolutely necessary, could save the club some money down the road. He has primarily played right tackle up until this point of his career.
With Chip Kelly out of the picture in Philadelphia, decisions on contract extensions and signings will be made by some combination of Howie Roseman, Tom Donahoe, Jeffrey Lurie, Doug Pederson, and the club’s new head of player personnel, who has yet to be hired.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.