The Fletcher Cox era is coming to an end in Philadelphia

When looking back at the best Eagles players over the last decade, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who has been as impactful as Fletcher Cox. But all good things must come to an end and it appears the writing may well be on the wall for the 11-year veteran.

Fletcher Cox is an Eagles all-timer

Fletcher Cox has played an instrumental role in the rise of this Eagles team. He’s stood the test of time and become a stalwart of the defense despite numerous coaching regimes and rotating coordinators. At one point, The Mississippi State product was mentioned in the same breath as Aaron Donald, and he was named a member of the NFL All-Decade team for the 2010’s.

The snowball started to roll last offseason

But going into last offseason, the future of Fletch with the Eagles was up for debate. Many assumed he would be a cap-casualty due to his $18M cap hit. He played in all 16 games of the 2021 campaign and ended the season with 3.5 sacks and 12 QB hits. But with Javon Hargrave alongside, the arrival of Jordan Davis, and Milton Williams developing rapidly, would keeping Cox around at that price make sense?

The answer was a resounding ‘no’ and he was actually released from the team. This caught everyone by surprise, but it was all part of a bigger plan. Cox was apparently in communication with Howie Roseman the entire time, and he was brought back on a one-year deal. But as the season has wore on, it’s become very clear that Father Time may finally be catching up to the once-rampant pass-rusher.

Fletcher Cox has played in 66% of snaps this season and has 7 QB hits and 3 sacks up to this point. Looking at the numbers alone, that’s actually pretty solid. But he hasn’t had a sack since the third game of the season and in recent weeks, his efforts have been questionable at best.

The Eagles’ run defense has been gashed for most of the season, but it was often overlooked due to the fact that the team were undefeated. Arizona, Dallas, and Pittsburgh all bullied the run-stuffers, but it wasn’t until a Dameon Pierce breakout that people started to look closer.

Fletcher cox
PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 13: Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Tackle Fletcher Cox (91) heads to the locker room before the game between the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles on December 13, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

The final straw

The blueprint for a Washington win was on the table and they ran the ball so well that the offense only had 19 minutes of possession. In that loss, Fletcher Cox just looked disinterested. Maybe he was simply gassed from being on the field too much. He does turn 32-years-old next month. Perhaps it really was that he’s lost a step, or potentially it was a combination of all of the above. Whatever it was, it was enough for Howie Roseman to take action.

The Eagles GM brought in two veteran defensive tackles this week in the way of Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh. The Eagles did lose Jordan Davis to IR and Marlon Tuipolotu also sustained an injury, but it wasn’t as if the team lacked depth sorely…right?

Howie Roseman makes a tough call

Apparently not. With the Eagles ranking 27th in run defense, Howie Roseman stepped up and decided to plug the hole. It will be very interesting to see what this means for Fletcher Cox and his Eagles future. He was only on a one-year contract and while both veterans are also on one-year deals, it’s likely a sign that his poor performances over the last two months have forced the GM to take a stand.

If the Eagles do say goodbye to Fletcher Cox this offseason, it would be a real shame. Not that his time with the team has come to an end, but the manner in which it has done so. Cox was a force to be reckoned with under Jim Schwartz and while this isn’t a hit piece on Jonathan Gannon, he’s just not a guy you want dropping into coverage or lining up on the outside. Cox himself made that clear last year and it might just be that he’s not fitted to this style of defense, and therefore isn’t enjoying it, which would only further compound anything going on physically or mentally.

Fletcher Cox is a Philadelphia Eagles legend and while the writing may be on the wall, it doesn’t make it any easier to digest that one of the most dominant forces in the NFL for over a decade just might not have enough in the tank to consistently produce for the team he’s given blood, sweat, and tears for since being drafted all those years ago.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire