Eagles extend new starter Kolb's contract by a year

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Kevin Kolb addresses the media during a news conference on Thursday after signing a one-year contract extension. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The news keeps getting better for Kevin Kolb lately: He has a new promotion, a new daughter, and, after he signed a one-year extension with the Eagles on Thursday, a new contract.

"It's been a good month," Kolb said at the NovaCare Complex on the eve of Eagles minicamp. "It's been a whirlwind."

Kolb, who originally had only one year left on his rookie deal, is guaranteed to earn $12.26 million over two years, according to his agent, Jeff Nalley.

A one-year extension might not seem like much of a commitment to give a starting quarterback, especially in light of the transformation the Eagles have undergone this off-season. But a new rule in the expiring collective-bargaining agreement limits salary increases to only 30 percent of base pay.

"If the current CBA rules weren't in place, I think the goal would have been to do a long-term deal on both sides," Nalley said. "But the rules are what they are."

Because Kolb was set to earn $550,000 this season, the most he could expect in a base-salary raise was $165,000 more. The Eagles, in fact, bumped Kolb's base up to a guaranteed $715,000. But the key figure is a signing bonus worth about $10 million that does not count against the base.

"It wasn't easy," Nalley said of the negotiations with Eagles president Joe Banner. "Really, this is uncharted waters because really no one has done a deal in this type of scenario."

For some of the league's younger players who have outperformed their original contracts - such as Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson and Tennessee running back Chris Johnson - the 30-percent rule has made it nearly impossible for them to get satisfactory long-term extensions.

Johnson is holding out of Titans minicamp. Jackson, who has said before that he wants a new deal, attended a team meeting Thursday before the three-day mandatory minicamp. Every Eagles player was in attendance and is expected to be at Friday's opening practices.

Kolb, 25, could have gone into the season with one year left on his contract and rolled the dice next off-season. The Eagles likely would have rewarded a good season by giving him the franchise tag, guaranteeing an estimated $13 million to $20 million per season. They probably would have tried to lock him up long-term.

But there are a lot of unknowns. The collective bargaining agreement expires next March and a work stoppage is possible. Kolb also faces the prospect of injury - or failure.

There is some risk in handing a large chunk of cash to a relatively unproven quarterback, but the Eagles have a built-in escape clause in case Kolb doesn't pan out. But they wouldn't have traded their franchise quarterback, Donovan McNabb, to the Redskins earlier this month and remade the team this off-season if they did not have faith in Kolb.

"When given the chance, Kevin has proven to have good command of this offense and we're looking forward to having him operate as the No. 1 quarterback," Eagles coach Andy Reid said in a statement.

Kolb, chosen in the second round of the 2007 draft, sat behind McNabb for most of his first two seasons in the NFL. However, when McNabb was injured in last year's opener, Kolb started the next two games, going 1-1. He became the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for more than 300 yards in his first two starts.

On April 4, the day McNabb was dealt, Kolb officially became the Eagles' starting QB. Five days later, his wife, Whitney, gave birth to their second daughter, Atley. Now, with his new deal in hand, he will lead the Eagles through drills as the No. 1 QB.

"It will be a different feel, but at the same time, it feels right," Kolb said. "It feels right to be the starter."

 


Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745

or jmclane@phillynews.com.