‘We Have A Plan’
Birds Brass: Hurts Extension Won't Impede Title Chase
The official details, including year-to-year cap charges, aren’t yet available for the extension that Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts agreed to earlier this week.
But based on team contract history, it’s safe to surmise that the five-year, $255-million pact that carries Hurts through 2028 is both a massive payday for the 2020 second-round pick and still gives the team some cap flexibility to make the necessary moves to stay competitive.
Howie Roseman, the team’s executive vice president of football operations, and his staff of number crunchers, which includes longtime assistant Jake Rosenberg (VP of Football Operations) and Bryce Johnston (VP of Football Transactions/Strategic Planning), have often used option bonuses and voidable – or “dummy” – years along with frequent restructures within contracts to spread out large amounts of money and keep year-to-year cap charges manageable.
“I think sometimes they come to me, and they have to slow it down and talk to me like I’m in third grade and explain it to me so I can get on the phone and explain it to somebody else,” Roseman joked about his salary-cap counsel. “We’re not pulling the wool over the eyes of anyone, any players or Jeffrey [Lurie, team owner] when we explain what we’re doing here.
“We have a plan that doesn’t just last for this year or next year. We’re not trying to do anything where five or six years from now the Philadelphia Eagles won’t be able to compete.”
Roseman called the Hurts extension “a heck of a deal for Jalen,” “a heck of a deal for the Eagles,” and praised Lurie for approving of the team’s unique approach to contract structures.
“Because that’s hard to do,” Roseman said. “You’re doing it a year early. You obviously have the tag. You have all these things at your disposal, and him recognizing that this was the best thing to do for this team and this franchise.
“Just him doing that and him trusting us to do a deal that made sense on both sides, he deserves a tremendous amount of credit.”
By extending Hurts after three years of a four-year rookie deal, but having the extension technically start in 2024, the Eagles could keep Hurts’ cap numbers manageable for 2023 and 2024 despite paying out almost $180 million in guaranteed money, per reports, and creating a structure in which Hurts’ $51 million annual average value makes him the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback on average, at least for the moment.
“I think that’s part of the deal by doing it at the time that we did and by being able to work together to do things that were important to them and important to us, and for us it’s about flexibility around him,” added Roseman, who also credited Hurts and his agent, Nicole Lynn, for the agreement.
“We had kind of planned for this. We had [draft] picks, we went into free agency kind of planning for this, getting comp picks.
“I think for us, obviously we get a chance to plan and we get a chance to work around it and build around him and some of the guys that we have on long-term contracts, and that’s exciting. But we have to continue to do the right thing.”
Still, the Eagles aren’t blind to the risks and potential consequences that come with handing out a massive quarterback extension, especially at such a young age.
Hurts, 24, is coming off just his second year as a starter.
Even though he put forth an MVP-caliber season and helped lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl, Hurts earned the mega-extension from the same organization that just five seasons ago rewarded its last MVP-caliber quarterback, Carson Wentz, with a blockbuster deal that backfired when Wentz regressed over the next two seasons and pointed his finger at the organization, prompting the Eagles to trade him and take an enormous cap hit in 2021.
Roseman downplayed any Wentz comparisons “because I don’t think that’s fair,” he said, but said the team is certain “money is not going to affect him.”
“My first conversation with him after he signed that contract, he was just telling me how determined he was, and I know how hard he’s working in the offseason,” Roseman added. “I don’t have any doubt in my mind that giving Jalen this contract will not change the person that Jalen is. No doubt.”
Hurts has also suffered ankle and shoulder injuries in each of the past two seasons, respectively, that caused him to miss games.
Like Wentz was before the extension, Hurts is an athletic quarterback who can make electric plays outside of the pocket but also takes some heavy hits that adds to wear and tear.
Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said he wasn’t reckless with Hurts just because his quarterback was on a cost-efficient rookie deal and he won’t change his game plan now that Hurts is the league’s highest-paid player.
“I know he’s gotten injured, but we didn’t pay him more to do less. I’ll say that,” Sirianni said. “Will we still think about how to protect him? Yeah, because that’s our job to protect our quarterback.
“But Jalen does a lot of things really well, and we want to utilize the skills that he has so he can continue to play at a high level.
Sirianni admitted that he’d need to doctor the game plan going forward to be more creative and also to ensure that his franchise quarterback is well-protected.
“We’ll have new wrinkles this year, obviously. We’re going to find ways to do the things that we’ve done better. We’ll grow on the scheme that we’ve had to maximize Jalen’s ability.
“But make no mistakes about it: that’s our job, right? To do those things. The reason Jalen is in this position where he’s signed this big contract is the fact that – I’ve said this a million times – nobody knows what Jalen Hurts’ ceiling is. Why? Because he loves football. He’s tough. He has high football IQ.
“The guys that have those things tend to reach their ceiling. He’s just going to continue to rise, so he’s a big part of this, too, because no man suddenly becomes different than his cherished thoughts and habits. He’s going to continue to do the things he’s done to this date because that’s who he is. We all obviously have a part of it.”
– Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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