Over the last week, Josh Sweat has done something he hadn’t really done before.
He took some time to reflect.
After signing a $40 million contract last week, Sweat has been reflecting on his football journey, how far he’s come and how close he was to none of this ever happening.
“At one point I didn’t know if I was going to play again,” Sweat said.
Long before Sweat signed his $40 million contract extension, long before he was a fourth-round pick in 2018, long before he played at Florida State, a devastating and gruesome knee injury almost ended his football career before it began.
Sweat was a huge high school prospect when he suffered a knee injury during his senior year of high school. He dislocated his knee, tore ligaments and watched his ranking among his class drop.
Sweat had to go through a lengthy rehab process and said it took years for him to even feel back to 80%. But since he entered the NFL, his knee hasn’t been a problem.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Sweat said. “Shoot, I don’t miss practice for it, I manage it, I take care of it. I haven’t had any issues, so nothing anybody can really say about it. I’m good to go.”
The only way you’d even know about the injury is because he wears a brace on that left knee, a reminder of how close he was to never getting his shot in the NFL.
“Sometimes I do let it slip my mind about how far I have come,” Sweat said. “After signing the deal, that’s when I really reflected. I’m kind of upset I let it take that long. For me to sign a deal and then start reflecting on it. But I just can’t take that stuff for granted. I’ve come a long way. I’m still going. I’ve got a lot more I want to do. That’s the small part to me. Now I want to be the best.”
Sweat, 24, has been a role player the last three years for the Eagles. He basically had a redshirt rookie season but saw his playing time increase in 2019 and in 2020. His production increased with it. Sweat had four sacks in 2019 and six in 2020.
And this training camp, Sweat was so good that many think this could end up being a breakout season for the former fourth-round pick.
“Josh has just been progressing and taking coaching,” Fletcher Cox said. “Josh, he works hard and takes the coaching from the older guys. This year, he had a really good camp and it shows how much work he put in the offseason and just really learning how to be a pro. I think he’s really taking that next step.”
Sweat signed his extension the day before Brandon Graham was lost for the season to an Achilles tear. It is expected that Sweat will be a big part of replacing the Eagles’ Pro Bowl defensive end.
While former first-rounder Derek Barnett has been the starter at the Eagles’ right end position, Sweat is a huge part of the defense. And will likely see his role increase and will perhaps play on both sides of the line, something with which he feels extremely comfortable.
The fact that the Eagles paid Sweat before he has become a full-time starter isn’t lost on him.
“It just shows that they, we have plans going forward,” he said.
Sweat specifically mentioned current teammates Cox, Graham and Barnett for helping him since getting into the NFL. Those three in particular took Sweat under their wing. Another guy who helped Sweat early in his career was Chris Long, who recently said Sweat is the most talented player in the Eagles’ very talented defensive line room.
Sweat admitted that as a rookie he wasn’t sure if he would ever see the field and it was Long who told him to just keep doing what he was doing. Eventually, that work paid off and Sweat got paid because of it.
Despite his new $40 million extension, which came with over $26 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $10 million, Sweat hasn’t yet made a big purchase yet.
But that could be coming.
“I don’t know yet,” Sweat said. “Ain’t no telling once I do good this weekend, though. Might have to go get me something.”
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