It’s been an interesting few days for the Philadelphia Eagles. Ahead of preparing for a ruthless game in Seattle, the birds have extended three special teamers through the 2019 season in the space of just two days. While these signings clearly retain the strength of the unit for the foreseeable future, it also showcases just how much the front office now cherish stability.
Punter Donnie Jones, Long Snapper Jon Dorenbos and the leader of the special teams unit, Chris Maragos have all been rewarded with extensions over the last few days and for good reason. It’s more than just a coincidence that it’s these three very specific players who have received extensions.
Since the arrival of Dave Fipp, the Eagles Special Teams unit has been completely transformed and is now regarded as one of the best and most consistent in the league. Whether it’s pinpoint punting, blocking field-goals or setting an NFL record for kick return TD’s in back-to-back weeks, regardless of who is coaching the team..the Eagles Special Teams has not just been prolific, but often a large reason behind some of the most impressive wins in the last few years.
After such a transformative offseason, the Eagles placed a heavy focus on stability and continuity. From the extensions of Zach Ertz and Malcolm Jenkins, to fortifying the Offensive Line and drafting a franchise quarterback, the Eagles wanted to ensure that Doug Pederson had a solid, reliable foundation to build his legacy on..and a large part of that foundation is special teams.
It’s no unknown fact that despite some heavy emphasis on freeing up cap space, the Eagles aren’t exactly inundated with finances for player contracts. As things stand, the Eagles have around $10M in available cap space..a number which is now even less with the three recent extensions.
It’s also well documented that the Eagles are once again poised for a vicious offseason. Jones, Maragos and Dorenbos were previously three of 14 players playing in their contract year. Bennie Logan, Jaylen Watkins, Kenjon Barner and Trey Burton are among others fighting for their future in Philadelphia.
So with that in mind, Howie Roseman began to add cornerstones to the unit. Knowing that five very prominent special teamers were in their contract year, Fipp’s group would take a huge hit if it lost Jones, Maragos and Dorenbos..and it was very plausible if other contracts were extended first.
But with stability being absolutely crucial after such a chaotic Chip Kelly era, Roseman was extremely start to not only begin extending special teamers, but reward three of the most consistent players on the team who embody everything about the team and the City of Brotherly Love.
Whether it’s leading the team in special teams tackles, kicking the longest punt since 2007 or simply having a veteran leadership presence due to being around the locker room and remaining a constant through years of uncertainty, this trio of players are simply crucial to the success of Fipp’s unit.
“..You’ve got offense, defense and special teams.” Doug Pederson told the media earlier today. “It’s so important to the success of your team and we’ve seen it already this year, the importance of that. Hopefully we can continue to build on that and good things will happen.”
The team also renewed the contract of Caleb Sturgis prior to the start of the season, meaning that the Eagles now have a kicker, punter, long snapper and leader in special teams tackles tied down for at least three years. The Eagles special teams also allows 0.2 special teams TD’s per game..the lowest in the league.
You can only built stability through finding constants. The Eagles now have over half of their 53-man roster under contract for at least three years..which considering the financial uncertainty prior to the start of this season is stunning. As Doug Pederson said earlier today, there are three aspects to this team..and if you choose to hurt the chances of one to strengthen the other, you’re not going to win football games.
The Eagles aren’t just rewarding good play. They’re building for the future..and they’re working to stabilize a franchise that was on the edge of crumbling just one season ago.