Fletcher Cox

NFC Notes: Olsen, Eagles, Breida, Giants

Greg Olsen opted against undergoing surgery on his refractured foot this season, but the Panthers tight end does expect to need a corrective procedure done on it. The Pro Bowl tight end said (via The Athletic’s Joe Person, on Twitter) he likely will need a surgery to fix his Jones fracture. However, he will try to make it through the season before doing so. Olsen’s missed the past four Panthers games but could be in line to return on Sunday, Ron Rivera said. He’s been ramping up his workouts in recent weeks and views Wednesday as the key day in determining his Week 6 availability, per the Charlotte Observer’s Jourdan Rodrigue.

As one of the finest quarterbacks in the NFC’s history continues his coronation night, here’s the latest from the conference:

  • The ACL Jay Ajayi tore is in his left knee, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane reports (on Twitter). This is key because Ajayi’s past issues have been with his right knee. Ajayi tore his right ACL while at Boise State, and his draft stock took a hit because of reports of chronic issues with that knee. The Eagles running back will undergo surgery on Thursday, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). He’s not believed to have torn any additional knee ligaments. Rapoport adds this injury came while Ajayi was working in pass protection, but the fourth-year veteran played through it until game’s end.
  • Philadelphia has engaged in “exploratory” conversations regarding Le’Veon Bell, according to Rapoport (video link), but those talks haven’t really gotten off the ground. The Bell-to-Philly subject has been a disputed topic thus far this month, with some outlets reporting the Eagles aren’t going down that road and others indicating they have strongly considered doing it.
  • Fletcher Cox‘s restructured contract gave the Eagles $6.5MM in 2018 cap space, pushing that total to around $10MM. The veteran defensive tackle will see $8.19MM in base salary converted to a roster bonus, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets, adding that his 2019 base will be reduced to $930K. An option bonus of $14.76MM will be included in Cox’s contract now, per Yates, though it’s unclear when that option would vest. But Cox accepting the restructure would indicate he’s not in danger of losing that money he transferred from his 2018 and ’19 base salaries.
  • The 49ers will likely have another starting running back when they take the field against the Packers on Monday night. Matt Breida is going to be doubtful to suit up in Green Bay, Kyle Shanahan said (via the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch, on Twitter). The good news on Breida, though, is he didn’t suffer a high ankle sprain. Instead, it’s a less severe mid-ankle sprain, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Alfred Morris would be in line to start, with Raheem Mostert possibly backing him up. Shanahan said the team will consider bringing Jeff Wilson up from the practice squad. The 49ers intended to deploy Jerick McKinnon as their starter, and they turned to Breida after the initial first-stringer’s season-ending injury. But Breida should be expected to return fairly soon.
  • Pat Shurmur wants to add a kicker to the Giants’ practice squad, Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com tweets. Big Blue will need another offensive tackle soon as well, being set to end the Ereck Flowers era on Tuesday. Aldrick Rosas serves as the Giants’ kicker, and the second-year UDFA is 100 percent (11-for-11) on field goals thus far.
  • Prior to signing Bryan Witzmann, the Bears visited with offensive lineman Willie Beavers, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets. Beavers was a fourth-round Vikings pick in 2016.

Eagles Redo Fletcher Cox’s Contract, Don’t Plan To Use Funds To Pursue Le’Veon Bell

On the surface, the Eagles making the decision to restructure Fletcher Cox‘s contract just as they lost Jay Ajayi for the season would point to the defending Super Bowl champs freeing up funds for a possible Le’Veon Bell trade.

However, Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com are throwing cold water on that prospect (Twitter link). The Eagles made the decision to redo Cox’s deal on Friday, the duo reports. This creates $6.5MM in cap space, pushing Phildelphia into range to afford Bell’s plummeting 2018 price tag.

The Eagles made the decision to restructure Cox’s deal because of their 2019 cap situation, Mortensen and Schefter report, adding the franchise hopes this extra space will help possible re-signings by March. Philadelphia, which has been incredibly active in both retaining its own talent and pursuing outside help, is in its own league regarding 2019 projected cap space. The Eagles are not only the lone team projected to be over the ’19 cap, they are nearly $20MM beyond the ceiling. So, more work will need to be done on this front.

But the Eagles do not plan to pursue Bell, Schefter reports. Prior to the Cox restructure — which will save the Eagles $11.7MM in 2019, per Mortensen and Schefter — the Eagles had barely $4MM in cap space. Now, they’re hovering around $10MM. Bell lost out on $853K in additional 2018 cash by skipping the Steelers’ Week 5 game. That drops his franchise tag amount down close to $10MM.

Philly had been mentioned as not only inquiring about Bell but seriously considering the prospect of pursuing a trade for him. But both Schefter and SI.com’s Albert Breer have not gotten the sense the Eagles are interested. However, the ESPN tandem adds that these added 2018 funds may help get them in the market for another player.

Nevertheless, Philadelphia’s running back situation is now significantly depleted. Ajayi is out for the season, and top backup Corey Clement has not played since Week 3. With Darren Sproles also out, Philly’s top available ball-carrying cogs are Wendell Smallwood and rookie UDFA Josh Adams.

By virtue of this restructure, Cox will make the veteran minimum base salary this season and next, Mortensen and Schefter note. As is the case with many restructures, Cox won’t see less money; it will just be paid out differently. Cox was scheduled to make $11.6MM in 2018 and $15.6MM in ’19. He signed a six-year, $102.6MM extension in the summer of 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles DT Fletcher Cox Likely To Miss Time

Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox is expected to be sidelined for multiple weeks as he deals with a calf injury, according to Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Although Philadelphia head coach Doug Pederson labeled Cox “day-to-day,” a source tells Bowen a two-to-three week absence is more likely.Fletcher Cox (vertical)

[RELATED: Eagles Sign RB Kenjon Barner]

One of the more dominant defensive tackles in the league, Cox has thus far graded as the NFL’s No. 23 interior defender while playing roughly 56% of the Eagles’ defensive snaps, per Pro Football Focus. Cox, who agreed to a six-year, $102.6MM extension prior to the 2016 campaign, has posted two sacks, two fumble recoveries, and one defensive touchdown this season.

Cox will certainly be missed, but Philadelphia has enough defensive line depth to account for his unavailability. Beau Allen will likely see more snaps opposite starting defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, while backups Elijah Qualls and Destiny Vaeao could also see increased action. Alternatively, the Eagles could use Vinny Curry on the inside, allowing Derek Barnett and Chris Long to contribute on the edge.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Eagles, Cox, Giants, Redskins

In the 2012 draft, the Eagles had their eye on defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. The night prior to the draft, the Eagles agreed to a deal with the Seahawks that would move them from No. 15 to No. 12, provided that one of the players on their short wish list was still available. Cox fell to No. 12, the two teams made the trade, and the Eagles were ready to announce their pick. However, when the Eagles were on the clock, they received a tempting trade proposal which would have netted them a future first-round pick in exchange for moving back, as Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. The Eagles, of course, declined. "<strong

If he was [what the Eagles thought], how would we get that guy again?” Eagles exec Howie Roseman said. “And all around the room, everyone agreed that to get a 6-4, 310-pound guy, 35-inch arms, powerful, athletic, great character, we’d have to pick in the Top-5 — 21 years old. For us, even if that future one was a 12 or 13 or 14, we thought it was a unique opportunity that we were able to get that kind of guy, so we just kind of made the pick.”

In theory, the Eagles could have grabbed a player like Sheldon Richardson, Star Lotulelei, or Kenny Vaccaro in the following year, but there’s no way of knowing what they would have done in that scenario. In any event, the Eagles are thrilled with how things turned out and earlier this month they locked up their star defensive tackle on a massive deal through the 2022 season.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • If rookie Jerell Adams shows that he can adjust to the speed of the NFL, he will allow the Giants to carry only three full-time tight ends, James Kratch of NJ.com writes. However, if he looks to be more of a project player, the Giants may have to carry a fourth tight end. As Roster Resource shows, the Giants’ depth chart at TE is headlined by Larry Donnell and Will Tye with Adams, Matt LaCosse, and UDFA Ryan Malleck also on the 90-man.
  • Many expected the Redskins to make a significant splash on the defensive line this offseason but that didn’t materialize as the team applied its resources elsewhere. Now, as the Redskins enter 2016 without vets Jason Hatcher and Terrance Knighton, the team is banking on consistency from its returning D-linemen, Master Tesfatsion of The Washington Post writes.
  • Left tackle Takoby Cofield finds himself on the Redskins‘ roster bubble and Rich Tandler of CSNMidAtlantic.com writes that he could be ready to challenge for a spot on the active roster. Cofield joined the Redskins as a UDFA in 2015 and spent the year on the taxi squad.
  • Cowboys free agent Greg Hardy may be trying to clean up his public persona by making changes to his social media.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fallout From Fletcher Cox’s Extension

Earlier today, PFR ran down some of the initial reactions to the mammoth six-year contract extension defensive lineman Fletcher Cox signed with the Eagles on Monday. Plenty more responses have come in since, so let’s dive in…

  • The Cox deal is yet another Eagles-inflicted blow to the Broncos, details Mike Klis of 9News. The Eagles hurt the Broncos’ chances to re-sign quarterback Brock Osweiler earlier this offseason when they inked Sam Bradford to a $17.5MM-per-year extension. Now Cox’s contract isn’t doing Denver any favors in its attempt to lock up star pass-rushing linebacker Von Miller, the Super Bowl 50 MVP who has amassed 60 sacks in 72 career regular-season games. The Broncos have until July 15 to sign Miller to a long-term deal. Otherwise, best-case scenario for the club: Miller will play out 2016 under the exclusive franchise tag. There have been rumblings that Miller could sit out the season if the reigning champions don’t meet his long-term demands, however. To this point, the Broncos haven’t been willing to give Miller a non-injury-guaranteed total approaching $60MM for the first three years of the six-year, $114.5MM extension they’ve offered him. The Broncos have instead offered to guarantee nearly $40MM over the first two years, and non-injury guarantees for the third year wouldn’t actually kick in until then. Cox, meanwhile, got $55.2MM in new money in the opening three years of his deal.
  • Denver isn’t the only team that the Cox contract could negatively affect, says Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link). The Panthers and Jets have standout defensive linemen Kawann Short and Muhammad Wilkerson, respectively, entering contract years, and now their price tags stand to rise even higher. The Panthers aren’t bullish enough on Short to give him Cox-type money, which will make negotiations difficult, according to Cole. The Jets hold similar feelings toward Wilkerson, so the expectation is that he doesn’t have much of a future with the team. Wilkerson is currently scheduled to play this season under the non-exclusive franchise tag, though he hasn’t signed the tender yet and isn’t a lock to report to training camp.
  • Having second overall pick Carson Wentz in the fold as the prospective long-term solution under center is a luxury that enabled the Eagles to allocate bank-breaking money to Cox, opines Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Cox’s extension will kick in come 2017, which is when Wentz is expected to take over for Bradford under center. Wentz’s cap numbers from 2017-19 ($6.06MM, $7.26MM and $8.49MM) are palatable figures for a starting QB. Of course, Wentz will actually have to prove himself capable in the pros for Philly to take advantage of this situation, as the Seahawks and Colts have done in recent years with Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck, respectively.
  • After former head coach Chip Kelly pushed him out of the picture last season, executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman has emphatically taken back the throne in Philadelphia, writes Marcus Hayes of the Inquirer. Cox’s extension is just the latest transaction Roseman has made this year to ensure the Eagles have a prosperous future. Along with locking up Cox, Roseman also inked Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Lane Johnson, Vinny Curry, Malcolm Jenkins and Bradford to multiyear deals. In addition to those deals and the aggressive move to land Wentz in the draft, Roseman spent the meat of the offseason getting rid of DeMarco Murray, Byron Maxwell, Kiko Alonso, Riley Cooper and DeMeco Ryans. Roseman has put his stamp on the Eagles and erased Kelly’s influence over the franchise in the process.

Reactions To Fletcher Cox’s Deal

On Monday night, the Eagles announced that they got a multi-year deal done with standout defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. The Eagles are thrilled to have Cox locked up for years to come but, of course, it cost the team a pretty penny. Not only is Cox getting a six-year, $103MM deal – he’s coming away with $36.299MM fully guaranteed and he’s unlikely to see any less than $55.549MM in total. "<strong

How did the Eagles do here? And what does Cox’s deal mean for other notable defensive linemen around the league? Here are some of the reactions to Cox’s payday:

  • Kawann Short is surely hoping for Cox money, but the “sense inside the building” is that Panthers GM Dave Gettleman “won’t go much further than $15MM per season,” Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review writes. Short, who recorded 11 sacks in 2015, is currently scheduled to count for just $1.473MM against the 2016 cap.
  • Cox did tremendously well when it comes to the guarantee and bonus structure, Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap writes. The Eagles paid a hefty price to extend the defensive tackle and Fitzgerald says the Eagles would have been better off extending him a year ago when the price tag wouldn’t have been as high. Meanwhile, in terms of year-by-year cash, he doesn’t see this deal moving the market for Broncos star Von Miller.
  • Mike Florio of PFT believes that Cox’s contract with help Miller in his case with the Broncos. The Broncos were previously able to chalk up deals for Ndamukong Suh and Olivier Vernon to free agency inflation. However, Cox has shown that a defensive lineman can score a similar contract without hitting the open market.
  • Interestingly, a 2017 franchise tag for Cox would’ve been unusually favorable for the Eagles because he switched from defensive end to defensive tackle, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com notes (via Twitter). Defensive ends earn more on the tag and the defensive tackle number is expected to decline.
  • Muhammad Wilkerson will get long-term deal like Cox, but it won’t be from the Jets, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com writes. The door seemed pretty much closed on a monster deal for Wilkerson in New York, but that door has now been slammed shut now that Cox pushed the defensive line market even further. Cimini is personally perplexed as to why the Jets won’t pay the price to keep Wilkerson for the long term.
  • Cox’s deal either confirms to Von Miller‘s camp that their position is right or raises the price for a deal – or perhaps both, Corry tweets.
  • Cox showing up and beginning to bond with his Eagles coaches at minicamp was important for this deal getting done, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
  • Given the rapidly rising cost of defensive linemen, Fitzgerald (on Twitter) believes that the Patriots made the correct decision moving on from Chandler Jones. Jones, who is slated to hit the open market after the 2016 season, netted the Pats offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick in a trade with the Cardinals.
  • The Eagles have proven that they’re serious about spending money, Darin Gantt of PFT writes. Philly has now doled out more than $280MM in guaranteed money this offseason, nearly double of any other team.

Eagles Extend Fletcher Cox Through 2022

The Eagles announced that they have extended defensive tackle Fletcher Cox through the 2022 season. The six-year, $103MM deal includes $63MM guaranteed, which is the largest guarantee for a non-quarterback in league history, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The contract contains $36.299MM fully guaranteed, including a signing bonus of $26MM."<strong

Reports in mid-April indicated that Philadelphia was close to working out a long-term contract with Cox, but with no agreement hammered out, Cox skipped voluntary Eagles workouts in May before reporting to minicamp last week. A deal always seemed likely, as club management has been adamant about Cox’s value to the team — de facto general manager Howie Roseman called Cox a “huge part” of the Eagles’ future, and was certain that Philadelphia would find a way to keep him around for the long haul.

Cox, 25, will average just under $17.2MM per season on his new deal, a number that makes him the second-highest paid defender in the NFL, behind Ndamukong Suh and just ahead of Olivier Vernon. The $63MM in guarantees is a massive figure and although that doesn’t account for the full guarantees, Cox still came away with a ton of fiscal security thanks to the deal’s details:

  • $1.299MM guaranteed 2016 base salary, 2017 $6MM guaranteed option bonus, $3MM guaranteed 2017 base salary.
  • $11.5MM 2018 base salary, which fully guarantees in March 2017
  • $15.6MM 2019 base salary; $7.75MM fully guarantees in March 2017, $7.75MM fully guarantees in March 2018
  • $12.9MM 2020 base salary (plus $1MM roster bonus); $15MM 2021 base salary (plus $1MM roster bonus); $16.1MM 2022 base salary (plus $1MM roster bonus)

The deal is structured in a way that would harshly penalize the Eagles if they were to part ways with Cox before many of those vesting guarantees trigger next March. As a result, Cox is effectively guaranteed an eye-popping $55.549MM at the time of signing. That’s about $1.5MM more than Aaron Rodgers, but still roughly $5MM less than Ndamukong Suh.

Cox had arguably the best season of his four-year career in 2015, setting a new career high with 9.5 sacks. He also racked up 71 tackles, three forced fumbles, and a pair of fumble recoveries. The performance earned the Mississippi State alum his first Pro Bowl nod, along with a top-10 spot on Pro Football Focus’ rankings of interior defenders — he placed ninth out of 123 qualified players.

As a first-round pick in 2012, Cox was under contract for one more season, scheduled to play out the 2016 season under a fifth-year option worth $7.799MM. He’ll now make much more than that in 2016, and he’ll also be asked to play a different role as the Eagles shift to a 4-3 defense under new coordinator Jim Schwartz. While Cox played end in Philadelphia’s old 3-4 look, he’ll shift to tackle this season, aligning at the three-technique where he’ll the opportunity to rack up more sacks and create more disruption.

The Eagles have made a habit of extending players this offseason, reaching long-term deals with tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek, safety Malcolm Jenkins, offensive tackle Lane Johnson, and defensive end Vinny Curry. That entire core is now under contract through at least the 2020 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Details provided by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Zach Links contributed to this post.

Doug Pederson on Eagles, Final Roster, Absent Players

New Eagles coach Doug Pederson recently wrapped up his first mandatory minicamp, and the 48-year-old talked to Dave Zangaro of CSNPhilly.com about the experience. The whole column is worth reading, but we pulled out some of the relevant quotes below…

  • Doug Pederson (vertical)There’s still a long way to go, but Pederson is already beginning to determine which of his 90 players will ultimately make the team. “I think you have an idea in the offseason,” he said. “You obviously know what you had coming back from last year, and of course your roster makeup and chemistry changes every year. It’s a new team, regardless of the new coaching staff or not. Next year we will be a new team, as well. Yeah, you begin to kind of go, ‘OK, pencil in guys here and there,’ and try to figure that out.”
  • Zangaro believes Pederson will have a particularly difficult time widdling down his group of tight ends and running backs, but the head coach already has a rough idea of how many players he’ll want for each position. “And again, as you know, once you get to the regular season and the way games are played, you want to make sure you’re covered in all areas,” he said. “But you go in having a general idea of how many you want at each spot.”
  • One thing that Pederson wasn’t focused on was his previously-absent players. Sam Bradford, Fletcher Cox, and Darren Sproles all missed parts of the previous voluntary workouts, but the coach stayed focused on the players who were present. “I didn’t necessarily worry myself too much about those situations,” he said. “Again, it goes back to just the way the offseason is set up and the fact that the entire program, outside of these last four days, is a voluntary program, and I just can’t – I’ve got to worry about the guys that are here during those times, and focus on those guys…I think at the end of the day, we’re just very fortunate that everybody is here this week and getting through this offseason and getting ready for camp.”

Fletcher Cox Reports To Eagles Minicamp

Just as the Eagles had hoped, Fletcher Cox has reported to the Eagles for the start of their mandatory June minicamp. The defensive tackle, who actually arrived on Monday, issued a statement to the press just minutes ago: Fletcher Cox (vertical)

I’m happy to be back in Philadelphia to get back to work with my teammates and coaches. I’m excited for this upcoming season and I can’t wait to get on the field for mini-camp this week, learn our new defense, and do whatever I can to help our team win. Any discussion about my absence from the offseason program or my contract will be handled privately between me, my agent and the Eagles organization,” Cox said in the statement.

[RELATED: Darren Sproles Reports To Eagles]

As a first-round pick in 2012, Cox is currently under contract for one more season, with a fifth-year option for 2016 worth $7.799MM. The Eagles, of course, do not want to see him test the open market next spring.

Marcell Dareus‘ contract with the Bills will likely be a point of comparison in the Cox extension talks, and the Cox could ultimately top that Dareus deal to become the second highest-paid defensive tackle in the league, behind Ndamukong Suh. Dareus’ contract with the Bills averages $15.85MM per year, with $60MM in total guarantees ($42.9MM fully guaranteed).

Cox skipped voluntary OTAs last month as the two sides wrestled over potential contract terms. Had Cox continued his holdout through this week, he would have faced upwards of $76K in fines. Eagles GM Howie Roseman is on record as saying Cox is a “huge part” of the team’s future, but it will cost Philly an awful lot to make that a reality. One report earlier this year claimed that the two sides were closing in on a long-term deal with more than $52MM in guarantees while another report indicated that no deal was close. Many weeks later, there’s still no agreement between the standout defensive lineman and Philadelphia.

Cox, still only 25, had arguably the best season of his four-year career in 2015, setting a new career high with 9.5 sacks. He also racked up 71 tackles, three forced fumbles, and a pair of fumble recoveries. The performance earned Cox his first Pro Bowl nod, along with a top-10 spot on Pro Football Focus’ rankings of interior defenders — the Eagles standout placed ninth out of 123 qualified players.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Rumors: Sproles, Cox, Pederson

Here’s a look at the latest out of Philly:

  • Darren Sproles reported to the Eagles on Monday in advance of the team’s mandatory minicamp, as Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. When asked about his absence, Sproles chalked it up to “family stuff.” Recently, we learned that the Eagles fielded trade inquiries for the running back during the draft and Sproles’ absence from OTAs – according to some reports – was related. Sproles, 32, saw time in every game last season and made four starts. In that span, the veteran ran for just 317 yards off of 83 carries but also contributed 55 receptions for 388 yards. For his contributions in the rushing, receiving, and return game, Sproles earned his second-straight Pro Bowl nod in 2015.
  • In related news, Eagles coach Doug Pederson says that he expects Fletcher Cox to also attend the team’s minicamp, though he has not seen him yet (Twitter link via Jimmy Kempski of The Philly Voice). Cox, 25, enjoyed a career-year in 2015, setting a new career high with 9.5 sacks. He also racked up 71 tackles, three forced fumbles, and a pair of fumble recoveries. The performance earned the former first-round pick his first Pro Bowl nod, along with a top-10 spot on Pro Football Focus’ rankings of interior defenders — he placed ninth out of 123 qualified players.
  • Tim McManus of Philadelphia Magazine explained why the talks are dragging on between the Eagles and Cox. For starters, agent Todd France knows that his client is one of the top defensive players in the game and at 25, he has tons of room to grow. France also reps Marcell Dareus, who netted a six-year deal with $25MM signing bonus and an average of $16MM per season. The Eagles know that they’ll have to back up a Brinks truck to sign Cox long-term, but the two sides are going to have to haggle it out a bit first. Meanwhile, multiple sources say that the Eagles have a sizable contract on the table, McManus writes, and he feels that the defensive tackle will get around $60MM guaranteed mark and won’t fall far from Dareus’ $16MM/year salary.