Jason Kelce

Eagles To Restructure Brandon Graham, Lane Johnson Contracts

The Eagles recently created some much-needed cap space by handing a new deal to center Jason Kelce and restructuring the contract of cornerback Darius Slay. Of course, the club still has plenty of work to do to get under the reduced 2021 salary cap, so the expectation is that right tackle Lane Johnson and defensive end Brandon Graham will soon see their deals reworked as well.

In fact, Geoff Mosher of InsideTheBirds.com says that Johnson has already agreed to a restructure, though if that’s true, we don’t yet have any details. Mosher confirms that the Eagles will address Graham’s contract situation, and speculatively, that could mean an extension as opposed to a restructure.

As Mosher observes, these contractual machinations are nothing new for the Eagles, but the difference this year is that executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman has been forced to rework the deals of players who are on the wrong side of 30 as opposed to younger talent. So if those players should experience a sudden decline or suffer a major injury, it will be more difficult for Philadelphia to get out from under their contracts (see, e.g., Alshon Jeffery). But most expect the salary cap to spike in 2022, and Roseman, like many execs around the league, is banking on that becoming a reality as they navigate this year’s cap crunch.

Johnson, who will turn 31 in May, just agreed to a restructure at the start of the 2020 campaign, and his cap number for 2021 sits just shy of $18MM. He played in just seven games last year due to a painful ankle injury, but he earned Pro Bowl bids in each of the prior three seasons. Graham, meanwhile, has played in at least 15 games in each of the past nine seasons, and he is coming off his first career Pro Bowl nomination. The soon-to-be 33-year-old edge defender also has a 2021 cap number just under $18MM.

Kelce’s new deal does indeed include dummy years, according to Mosher. That allows the Eagles to spread out his $9MM in guarantees, but player and team would need to agree to yet another restructure if Kelce — who has previously flirted with retirement — wants to return to the field in 2022.

In other Eagles news, the club is moving defensive end Genard Avery to linebacker, as Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk passes along. Philadelphia acquired Avery in a trade with the Browns in October 2019, but the 2018 fifth-rounder has seen limited defensive reps over the past several seasons. At just 250 pounds, Avery may have been miscast as a DE, and he will have a chance to remake himself as he enters the final year of his rookie contract.

He compiled 40 tackles and 4.5 sacks as a first-year pro in Cleveland in 2018 but totaled just 18 tackles and two sacks over the following two years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles, Jason Kelce Agree To New Deal

Jason Kelce isn’t going anywhere. On Friday, the center agreed to a new deal that will keep him with the Birds for 2021 (via Kelce, on Instagram). 

The new deal will give Kelce up to $12MM in 2021, with $9MM guaranteed. It’s not immediately clear whether additional years have been added to the pact. Technically speaking, Kelce was already under contract through the 2024 season, though the 22-24 seasons are voidable. This isn’t the first time that Kelce has met the Eagles in the middle. The aforementioned void years were added in 2019, to reduce his cap charge by about $4MM.

Kelce, 34 in November, went from a sixth-round pick to an offensive line staple. Over the years, he’s made 142 starts for the Eagles while earning three first-team All-Pro nods. In 2019, he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 center for his work across 1,227 snaps. Last year, Kelce flirted with retirement, but ultimately decided to come back for another year. That means giving up his brief stint in the world of professional arm wrestling, though he left the sport with a perfect 2-0 record.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles’ Jason Kelce To Return In 2020

In an Instagram post, Jason Kelce announced that he will return for another NFL season. Meanwhile, to keep the focus on the field, the Eagles center says that he’s retiring from the world of arm wrestling, where he’s amassed a 2-0 record. As Kelce says, he’s going out on top. 

[RELATED: Flacco Open To Joining Eagles?]

I wanted to allow my body and mind to fully recover from the rigors of an NFL season and take time with my family to see what lies ahead,” Kelce wrote. “I am fully excited for the 2020 season and will be out there with my teammates, coaches, and hopefully fans this coming season…Can’t wait to be out there this season, can’t wait to have sports back, and I can’t wait till this lockdown is over.”

After the Eagles were knocked out by the Seahawks, Kelce was reportedly the last player to take off his uniform. To some, that signaled retirement. However, the 32-year-old (33 in November) will return for another season in Philly, where he’s under contract through the 2021 season, plus a few void years for salary cap purposes.

With that, Kelce will be on the books for a $7.4MM figure in 2020. He’s well worth the price – last year, Kelce graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 center for his work across 1,227 snaps.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles LT Jason Peters Does Not Plan To Retire

Eagles left tackle Jason Peters told reporters after Philadelphia’s loss to the Seahawks that he will not retire and plans to return in 2020 for his 17th NFL season, according to Eagles Insiders Adam Caplan and Geoff Mosher. Peters started 13 games this season and remained one of the best offensive tackles in football, but considering he will turn 38 in a few weeks, retirement would not have been a surprise.

The Eagles would surely welcome Peters back, but set for free agency he will be free to sign with any team. It’s hard to foresee him leaving Philadelphia, but another team with cap space could make a run at the veteran tackle.

Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, pointed out that another veteran along the Eagles offensive line, Jason Kelce, was unwilling to make the same statement. Garafolo added that Kelce “was the last player out of uniform” and “Didn’t look like he wanted to take it off.” Kelce will talk to reporters tomorrow and Garafolo’s report seems to suggest he is leaning towards retirement. If he does, the Eagles will already need to replace one starter and may be even more inclined to keep Peters in the fold.

QB Notes: Rudolph, Rosen, Wentz

Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph told reporters he did not say anything that “escalated” the altercation between him and Myles Garrett, according to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. Garrett, of course, swung a helmet at Rudolph’s bare head and received an indefinite suspension from the league, which he is currently appealing. While Garrett was not the only player suspended, many have criticized the league for handing no suspension to Rudolph for instigating the situation.

At the moment, Rudolph has yet to hear from the league regarding any punishment, per Kaboly. Although everyone believes a fine will be coming his way.

Here’s some more news surrounding quarterbacks around the league:

  • While Dolphins head coach Brian Flores revealed Ryan Fitzpatrick would be the team’s starter this week at quarterback, he left the door open for Josh Rosen to retake the mantle at some point in the near future. Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald speculates that a three-game stretch beginning on December 8th could have massive implications for Miami’s draft position. Giving the reigns back to Rosen could both help the team evaluate his long-term future and improve their draft standing, per Beasley.
  • Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has struggled recently. Even with his poor play of late, Philadelphia’s starting center Jason Kelce said he has “all the faith in the world [in Wentz]” during an interview on 94 WIP. At 5-5, the Eagles have failed to live up to lofty expectations and in last week’s 17-10 loss to the Patriots, Wentz completed just 20 of 40 pass attempts. However, with former backup Nick Foles now in Jacksonville, current backup Josh McCown is not going to push Wentz for playing time anytime soon.

NFC East Notes: Eagles, Kelce, Giants

Here’s a look at the NFC East:

  • Eagles center Jason Kelce says he played through a grade two MCL sprain, a broken foot, a “torn elbow” and other nagging injuries in 2018 (Twitter link via Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer). Kelce, who recently re-upped with the team on an extension to take him through the 2021 season, says he’s not quite 100%, noting that he’s “as healed as I’m going to get.” Following the Eagles’ Divisional Round loss to the Saints, Kelce hinted that he may end up retiring, so it’s unlikely that Kelce will actually play through ’21. Instead, his new deal simply signals that he’s committed to play this season.
  • Eagles running back Josh Adams is expected to miss the start of the team’s offseason conditioning program as he recovers from shoulder surgery, Mike Kaye of NJ.com hears. The good news is that Adams’ six-month timetable from January labrum surgery should put him in line to participate in July’s training camp. Adams put himself on the map last year with a team-leading 511 rushing yards plus three touchdowns. His usage dropped after five consecutive starts, but he’ll have an opportunity to build on that progress in 2019.
  • Sterling Shepard‘s contract extension talks with the Giants appeared to have picked up after the Odell Beckham trade, Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com tweets. Shepard’s new deal – a four-year, $41MM pact – was larger than expected, though the going rate for wide receivers shot up dramatically this offseason. Had the Giants not extended Shepard, teams such as the Patriots would have been ready to pounce on him in free agency next year.

Contract Details: Smith, Kelce, Johnson

Let’s take a look at the details of a few recently-signed contracts from around the NFL:

  • Donovan Smith, T (Buccaneers): Three years, $41.25MM. $27MM fully guaranteed. Guaranteed 2019 base salary of $7MM with a $5.5MM roster bonus. Guaranteed $14.5MM base salary in 2020. Non-guaranteed $14.25MM base salary in 2021. $5MM of 2019 salary deferred until 6/15/20. $3MM of 2020 salary deferred until 3/5/21. Deferrals have no impact on salary cap (Twitter link via Dan Graziano of ESPN.com).
  • Jason Kelce, C (Eagles): Extended through 2021. $7.57MM signing bonus. 2019 base salary reduced from $6.5MM to $930K. 2020 base salary reduced from $7MM to $1.5MM with a $2MM roster bonus. $500K playing time escalator available in 2020 for playing 90% of offensive snaps. 2021 base salary of $5.5MM (Twitter links via Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia).
  • Denzelle Good, OL (Raiders): Extended through 2019. One-year, $1.7MM. $500K signing bonus. $200K per-game roster bonuses. $100K workout bonus. $1.2MM available via playtime incentives (Twitter link via Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review Journal).
  • Lane Johnson, T (Eagles): Restructured contract. Created $8.2MM in cap space by converting $10.045MM of his 2019 base salary into a signing bonus. Base salary is now $805K (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com). Added voidable years in 2022-23 (Twitter link via Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer).
  • Mike Person, OL (49ers): Three years, $8.25MM. $2.45MM fully guaranteed. $1MM roster bonus, $1.45MM fully guaranteed 2019 base salary. $250K in per-game roster bonuses (Twitter link via Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com).
  • Romeo Okwara, DE (Lions): Two years, $6.8MM. $2.705MM signing bonus. 2019 base salary of $720K fully guaranteed. $500 workout bonus in 2019 (Twitter link via Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com).

NFC East Notes: Beckham Jr., Giants, Eagles, Cowboys

There’s been a lot of renewed discussion about the possibility of an Odell Beckham Jr. trade recently. Beckham Jr. was shopped last offseason, but a mega-extension he signed just before the season seemed to put any trade talk to rest. Just a year into his new record breaking deal however, the rumors have popped up again after Beckham Jr. clashed with his new coaching staff this past weekend. Speaking at the combine this week Giants GM Dave Gettleman didn’t completely shut the door on a potential trade, but said the team “didn’t sign Odell to trade him.”

To that end, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY says the Giants won’t get serious about trading him “unless they are overwhelmed with an offer.” On the other hand, Vacchiano also says head coach Pat Shurmur was “furious” with him at times last year over his antics, particularly when he gave an interview to ESPN where he openly questioned the team’s quarterback situation. Vacchiano also writes that the Giants “are often closer to the breaking point than they may publicly appear” with Beckham Jr. It’ll be a fascinating situation to monitor as the offseason unfold.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • After flirting with retirement, Eagles center Jason Kelce ended up signing an extension with the team today. We now have details on the extension, as the new deal will make Kelce the highest paid center in the league, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Rapoport notes that the remaining three years on KElce’s contract will now pay him an average of $11MM per year. Kelce received Pro Football Focus’ top grade among all centers, so it makes sense why he’s being paid like it. Kelce is 31 now, and should have at least a couple more years left at an elite level.
  • Speaking of retirement, we have more details on Jason Witten‘s role with the Cowboys in his return. While we’ve already heard Witten won’t be playing a full allotment of snaps, owner “Jerry Jones does not believe the veteran will be a bit piece in the offense,” according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Per Archer, Jones said this week that he doesn’t think Witten’s “a progress stopper”, and that he’ll be “well worth the roster spot.” It sounds like Witten could play a meaningful role in the offense even after taking the year off.
  • The Eagles plan on having backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld back in camp next year coach Doug Pederson said from the combine, according to Les Bowen of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Sirius XM’s NFL Insider Adam Caplan tweeted in response that Sudfeld, who is a restricted free agent, is an “interesting player who could draw strong interest from other teams if they use the low tender.” Pederson did say that the team doesn’t “just go around and give out jobs,” but they wanted Sudfeld to compete to be Carson Wentz‘s backup. Assuming another team doesn’t steal him away with an offer sheet, it sounds like Sudfeld should slide in and replace Nick Foles as the primary backup in Philly.

Eagles Sign C Jason Kelce To Extension

Jason Kelce won’t be retiring after all. The Eagles announced that they’ve agreed to a one-year extension with the veteran offensive center.

Kelce is now under contract through 2021, and Adam Caplan tweets that the lineman will make around $11MM per season (making Kelce the highest-paid center in the NFL). As Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com points out, the 31-year-old was set to have a cap hit of $6.5MM next season.

Following the Eagles’ Divisional Round loss to the Saints, Kelce hinted that he may end up retiring, with the lineman telling reporters that he had actually considered retiring during each of the past couple seasons. Today’s extension means Kelce’s contract now lasts through the 2021 season, but it doesn’t sound like the veteran will stick around that long. Rather, today’s deal is basically a commitment by Kelce to return for the 2019 campaign.

The 2011 sixth-round pick has spent his entire NFL career with Philly, earning a pair of Pro Bowl nods. Kelce earned his second-straight First-Team All-Pro accolade this past season, and it was also the fourth-straight year that the lineman started all 16 games for the Eagles. Kecle also ranked first among Pro Football Focus‘ ranking of 38 eligible centers, the second-straight season he’s finished atop the list.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Thomas, Eli, Guice, Eagles

Linked for more than a year now, Earl Thomas and the Cowboys could be a match soon. Thomas seems certain to hit the market, and the Cowboys offered a second-round pick for him last year. It would only take money to bring Thomas to Dallas this year, but the sides may not be as strong of a match. The Cowboys hold nearly $50MM in cap space, but a big chunk of that will likely go to another DeMarcus Lawrence franchise tag. Other funds will be earmarked for extensions for several young talents. The Cowboys could use safety help, but Albert Breer of SI.com does not get the vibe the organization will be ready to shell out top-end safety money to bring Thomas to Dallas.

On the eve of the franchise tag window opening, here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • More evidence for the Eli Manning-will-be-back noise: the 15-year Giants quarterback has been working out at the team facility throughout the offseason, Breer notes. While this is not unusual, as Manning does this annually, his conditioning headquarters may have shifted had the Giants given him an indication they were legitimately considering moving on from him. Although nothing concrete has emerged on this front yet, Manning remaining the starter is the expectation for 2019.
  • The Redskins have experienced some significant trouble with infections lately, with the respective recoveries of Alex Smith and Derrius Guice delayed because of post-surgery complications. Guice’s road back from a torn ACL was sidetracked by two months, but the running back is now sprinting full speed again. The LSU product revealed in a first-person recovery diary for the Redskins’ website (via J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington) he has yet to cut at full speed, though. Training camp, and not OTAs, may be the goal, Finlay points out. That would not be a surprise given how quickly Guice went down last year.
  • With the Broncos completing a trade for Joe Flacco — a move the Redskins explored — might Washington attempt to pursue Case Keenum? Washington’s financial obligations seem likely to prevent that, Finlay writes. Smith and Colt McCoy combine for nearly $25MM of Washington’s cap space, and Finlay expects Keenum — even in the event Denver releases him — to command a high-end backup deal. Chase Daniel‘s accord averages $5MM per year, and Keenum’s 2017 season would seemingly make him likely to surpass that. However, if Washington won’t pay a high-seven-figure sum for a veteran on Keenum’s level, pursuing Teddy Bridgewater would be difficult. If the Redskins are to chase a veteran to start over McCoy, they will likely have to at least enter high-end backup spending territory.
  • Although Jason Kelce said immediately after the Eagles‘ divisional-round loss he was considering retirement, Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia gets the sense the All-Pro center is leaning toward returning for 2019. Kelce is only 31 and may have another contract to come. But for now, he’s attached to an Eagles-friendly deal that has him making $6.5MM salary. No guaranteed money remains on Kelce’s deal, which he signed in February 2014.