With Reid, connect the dots

What did the LeSean McCoy signing reveal about Andy Reid? (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of LeSean McCoy's contract extension had nothing to do with the running back himself.

But rather, what it revealed about Andy Reid.

Scrolling through this morning's coverage, the nuggets about Reid are what stood out to me. Per Jeff McLane of the Inquirer, Reid took an "atypical central role" in negotiations.

And Drew Rosenhaus told Les Bowen of the Daily News that the Eagles thinking this offseason has seemed different:

Your Eagletarian asked Rosenhaus if he thinks the Eagles' thinking about the handling of such negotiations with key players has changed over the past several years.

"Yeah, there's no question," Rosenhaus said. "To me, the Eagles are one of the more aggressive ballclubs when it comes to retaining their players. Guys want to stay here. There's great stability here [with Reid]."

It's been assumed for awhile now that Reid has final say on all personnel decisions. Yet, we've seen players time and again point to contentious relationships with the front office, while hailing Reid as a coach whom they're willing to run through a brick wall for. All along, it seemed the Eagles were comfortable handling things that way - whether the player was Brian Westbrook, Sheldon Brown, DeSean Jackson or Asante Samuel.

But now? It seems, in McCoy's case at least, that Reid is at the table. And that ended up being a positive, as the Eagles made a deal with the 23-year-old running back prior to full-team OTAs.

Looking back at last offseason, the franchise made a lot of aggressive moves, but most of them involved paying outsiders (Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Vince Young, Steve Smith, Ronnie Brown), who were new to the organization. Clearly, that didn't play well with some of the guys in the locker room, like Jackson.

And perhaps it didn't play well with other veterans too, who chose to just play and stay quiet.

But in the past several months, the Eagles have extended productive veterans like Trent Cole and Todd Herremans. They re-signed Evan Mathis and made their splashiest acquisition via trade, acquiring respected veteran linebacker DeMeco Ryans from the Texans.

The most interesting case study might just be Jackson. When on his game, he's one of the most explosive playmakers in the game, beating defensive backs for 50-yard bombs and giving special teams coaches fits as a return man. When he's at his worst, he's a distracted receiver with shaky hands, who lets his teammates down (like when he was suspended for the Cardinals game).

I've written about Jackson at length in the past four seasons, and the posts always attract a wide variety of strong opinions.

Back in March, several NFL sources told Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com that there was "a debate within the Eagles hierarchy" about whether or not the team could trust Jackson. A couple weeks later, the two sides were able to get a deal done. Perhaps that means Reid won the debate. Or maybe it just means Jackson brought his price down to a point where everyone felt comfortable. Either way, given what we know about Reid's relationship with Jackson, it seems unlikely that the head coach was the one expressing the most doubt in the room about keeping the speedy wide receiver.

One more item from the past to call your attention to. Remember when highly-respected NFL writer Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times dropped a couple Eagles-related bombs back in March? One related to Peyton Manning. But the other was about Reid:

Two NFL insiders, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, said that Philadelphia Coach Andy Reid was ready to walk away from the Eagles if he didn't get more personnel control, and now he has it.

Any perception that Reid is going to mortgage the future to win now because he knows he could lose his job after next season seems silly at this point. Other than the moves mentioned above, we know the Eagles were rumored to have some level of interest in trading up to land Robert Griffin III. And we know that eventually, they spent a third-round pick on a quarterback, Nick Foles, who will likely have no impact on how the team performs in 2012.

The bottom line is Reid has not made decisions like a guy worried about his long-term job security. For one, that would be completely out of his nature, given what we've learned about him in the last 13 years. Instead, Reid is operating under the belief that the Eagles will improve in 2012 and contend for a Super Bowl with this roster. Right or wrong, that is his approach.

And secondly, Reid has no reason to worry about his job. Jeff Fisher just got a five-year, $35M deal from the Rams. He has a .542 career winning percentage and has led teams to the playoffs six times in 16 seasons with one Super Bowl berth. Reid has a .609 career winning percentage, nine playoff berths in 13 years and one Super Bowl appearance.

In other words, the guess here is that the Eagles think Reid's future in Philadelphia is brighter than Jeffrey Lurie might have indicated publicly at the end of last season. And if for some reason next year turns out to be a disaster, Reid knows he'll get a fresh start somewhere else, assuming he wants one.

But if the Eagles rebound in 2012, it seems likely that Reid could be coaching McCoy through much of the five-year extension he signed yesterday.

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