DeVonta Smith deserves a big-time contract, but Eagles are running out of time to make an even bigger decision

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Eagles devonta smith
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith celebrates after scoring with quarterback Jalen Hurts during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants Monday, Dec. 25, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

DeVonta Smith is already one of the top wideouts in the NFL despite playing second-fiddle to A.J Brown over the last two years. As the new season draws closer, the Eagles would be wise to try and lock in an extension or to exercise that fifth-year option as soon as possible.

The NFL was shaken up once again today when it was revealed that the Buffalo Bills had traded Stefon Diggs to the Houston Texans. The young AFC outfit is destined to be a contender in 2024, but the ramifications of the move are obvious. The price for star receivers is only going up, and the Eagles have one of the brightest in the league who is now in-line for a payday.

Who is DeVonta Smith?

The former Alabama receiver was drafted in the first round back in 2021 and has since blossomed into one of the premier wideouts in the NFL. Smitty broke the team’s rookie receiving record before putting up an astonishing 1,196 yards in year two while splitting targets with A.J Brown.

In 2023, DeVonta Smith further expanded on that resume, adding another 1,066 yards and 7 touchdowns. He put up 131 yards in the tram’s week 2 win over Minnesota and would break the 100-yard mark again against the Bills 10 weeks later. In the playoffs, DeVonta Smith shined once more, toasting the Buccaneers for 148 yards in what was otherwise a gut-wrenching loss.

Bills vs Eagles a.j brown devonta smith
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) celebrating his touchdown with teammate wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) during the first half of an NFL football game against Washington Commanders, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

He might well be the most nuanced route-runner in the NFL and has solidified himself as a receiver who can not only gain separation by breaking ankles, but bring in big-time catches by adjusting to misfires from Jalen Hurts and absorbing a surprising amount of contact given his slender frame. To say he’s destined for greatness is far from hyperbolic.

The contract

DeVonta Smith is now entering year four of his rookie deal, which means he is eligible for an extension. The Eagles have been big spenders this offseason and have also given Landon Dickerson a shiny new contract, but what does the future hold for their electric young wideout?

The good news is that Smith’s contract does contain a fifth-year option. If exercised, this would cost the Eagles $15.5M in 2025, which would place him on the fringe of the top-20 highest-paid receivers in the league. That feels like a Howie move if I’ve ever seen one, but to say that Smitty deserves a much bigger contract would be an understatement, and locking him into a fifth-year option could frustrate a player who knows just how much he’s worth.

Eagles devonta smith
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith, left, is pursued by New England Patriots cornerback Marcus Jones, right, as he scores on a touchdown pass from quarterback Jalen Hurts in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

What doesn’t help the Eagles is the fact that Smitty was part of an absolutely ridiculous group of rookie wideouts. Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Nico Collins are just a few of the names who will all find themselves in similar situations this season. Roseman has long been touted as a GM who jumps the market to avoid overpaying for players, and with such an eclectic group of wideouts all eyeing up long-term contracts, the Eagles GM has a tricky decision to make.

Time is running out

If the Eagles are going to exercise the fifth-year option on DeVonta Smith’s contract, it has to be done by May 2nd this offseason.

With the price of premier wideouts only going up, Roseman has a decision to make:

Does he ride out one more year of DeVonta’s rookie deal before paying him a big bag in 2025, risking yet another huge campaign from a wide receiver trying to secure his long-term future?

Does he exercise the option and potentially frustrate a player who has already proven his worth throughout his three-year stint in Philadelphia?

Or does he instead turn to the NFL draft and look to develop a potential replacement, knowing that affording big deals for AJ, Smitty, AND the likes of Hurts, Dickerson, and a flurry of young first-round talents who are all developing nicely, just might not be sustainable?

With all three possibilities feeling plausible, this is a huge decision. The Eagles spent years crying out for a reliable receiver and finally got their wish in DeVonta Smith. Keeping him in Philadelphia won’t be cheap, but the emotional expense of seeing him shine elsewhere could be absolutely devastating in the years that follow.

AP Photo/Chris Szagola