The Eagles continued locking up their own players on Thursday when they officially re-signed center Jason Kelce to a six-year contract extension and gave wide receiver Riley Cooper a new five-year deal.
Kelce, 26, gets the six years added on to the final year of his deal and is now signed through 2020. The six-year extension is worth $37.5 million, with $13 million guaranteed, according to a league source. The total maximum value of the deal is $40.1 million, and the $6.25 million annual per year makes him one of the top-five paid centers in the NFL. It’s the second extension completed to a member of the 2011 draft class, which was the first year under the new CBA.
Cooper, 26, signed a five-year deal that could be worth as much as $25 million according to a league source. The deal includes $10 million guaranteed, $2 million of which is guaranteed for injury only and doesn't become full until the third year of the deal.
Along with left tackle Jason Peters, Kelce and Cooper are the second and third players that Eagles management has locked up this week. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is expected to be next, but there are still hurdles to be cleared. The sides have 12 days to get a deal done, and it’s expected to happen. The odd man out is expected to be veteran Jason Avant, who is due $3.25 million and is coming off his worst statistical season since 2008.
The Kelce extension ensures that all five members of the Eagles offensive line are locked up through at least 2016. A 2011 sixth-round pick, Kelce quickly became a core player for the Eagles. He missed most of 2012 with a major knee injury, but returned in 2013 to be a key member of Chip Kelly’s offense and a valuable part of the locker room.
“Jason is the epitome of the type of player we want around here, both on and off the field,” Kelly said in a statement. “He’s tough, extremely intelligent and is a leader by his actions and by his words. His athleticism is something that really sticks out when you watch him play. There aren’t many centers that can get down the field like he does.”
General manager Howie Roseman called Kelce the “proverbial gym rat,” as Kelce is always around the NovaCare Complex working out. This is the first offseason that Kelce could have received an extension, and it became an immediate priority for the Eagles.
Cooper, a fifth-round pick in 2010, was mostly a reserve for the Eagles until Maclin suffered a training-camp knee injury. Cooper became a full-time starter amid the tumult of a video that captured him shouting a racist comment at a summer concert, but the team kept him and valued his role in the offense. When Nick Foles became the quarterback, Cooper emerged as an important target. He finished 2013 with a 47 receptions for 835 yards and eight touchdowns, and his 17.8 yards per reception were the third most in the league.
“Riley is one of the toughest and hardest-working guys in our locker room,” Kelly said. “We talk a lot about how players have to make the most of their opportunities, and he did just that last year. He used his size, strength and speed to make a lot of big plays for our team and I’m excited to watch him build upon his success.”
Roseman added that the Eagles were “excited” to get this deal done before free agency, and that the Eagles especially value Cooper’s blocking.
Both players will have news conferences on Thursday afternoon. More coming then.