Eagles

How Eagles convinced Blake Countess to take a pay cut

us_countess.png
USA Today Images

How Eagles convinced Blake Countess to take a pay cut

The Rams released safety Blake Countess because he wouldn’t agree to a pay cut. The Eagles claimed him and within two days he had agreed to … a pay cut.

Welcome to HowieBall.

Although there’s certainly no guarantee Countess will become a productive player for the Eagles, the way the Eagles handled the Countess acquisition is just another example of how Howie Roseman and his staff — led by contract and cap expert Jake Rosenberg, the Eagles’ Vice President of football administration — use financial creativity to lock up promising players the Eagles like with very little risk.

Now that we have the Countess contract details, we can take a look at exactly what the Eagles did.

First, some background: The Eagles drafted Countess in the sixth round in 2016 and released him in the final cut, hoping to bring him back on the practice squad. He signed instead with the Rams’ practice squad, was promoted to the 53-man roster in November of 2016 and remained there through the Rams’ Super Bowl run this past February.

Roseman always regretted losing Countess and had it in the back of his mind that if ever became available, he would pounce.

• Countess, now 25, played in five games as a rookie and all 36 regular-season and postseason games the last two years. In his 41 games with the Rams, he played 370 snaps on defense and 814 on special teams. 

• The Rams released Countess on May 2, and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Countess had declined to take a cut from his $2.025 million base salary for 2019. None of that $2.025 million was guaranteed.

• By claiming him, the Eagles were awarded Countess’s existing contract, which included a $2.025 million cap hit and left Countess as an unrestricted free agent after the 2019 season.

• Last Tuesday, the Eagles reworked that contract, both lowering Countess’s cap hit and securing his rights through 2020.

So Countess agreed to a pay cut … literally a week after the Rams released him because he wouldn’t agree to a pay cut.

Here’s how:

• The Eagles lowered Countess’s 2019 base salary from $2.025 million to $900,000 and guaranteed $180,000 of that salary, so that’s money that Countess gets no matter what happens. It’s not a ton but it’s more than he was guaranteed before.

• The Eagles added three separate $50,000 roster bonuses that Countess can pocket in 2019. One pays him $50,000 if he’s on the 53-man roster for any one game during the season. Another pays him $50,000 if he’s on the 53-man roster for eight or more games. And the third pays him $50,000 if he’s on the 46-man game-day active roster for at least eight games.

• Because Countess played in 16 games for the Rams last year, those three bonuses are considered “likely-to-be-earned,” and they count against the Eagles’ 2019 salary cap. So Countess’s 2019 cap figure is $1,050,000 - the $900,000 base and $150,000 in roster bonuses. That’s roughly half of what it was before the restructure.

• For 2020, which is technically an option year, Countess has a base salary of $1 million with a $300,000 roster bonus that he will get if he’s on the roster on the third day of the league year, which will be sometime in mid-March. There’s no signing bonus, so nothing pro-rates. The $300,000 disappears with no dead money if the Eagles release Countess after the season. The 2020 cap figure is $1.3 million - the base and the roster bonus.

• There is also a $500,000 playing-time escalator that increases Countess’s 2020 salary to $1.5 million if he meets a certain snap-count plateau. This doesn’t count against the cap unless he triggers the escalator. 

So Countess’s combined cap figures as of now for 2019 and 2020 are $2.35 million — or just $300,000 more than his original 2019 cap figure when he got here last week.

It’s a smart deal for both sides.

For the Eagles? They secure Countess’s rights through 2020 but only if they want him without having to pay him more than $2 million this year. 

For Countess? He gets a nice chunk of money guaranteed now with the security that the more he plays and the better he plays, the more money he’ll make over the next two years without worrying about hitting the open market this offseason.

HowieBall strikes again!

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Rodney McLeod says city can rise stronger from ‘pivotal moment’

Rodney McLeod says city can rise stronger from ‘pivotal moment’

Eagles safety Rodney McLeod on Monday morning released a statement through his social media accounts promoting peaceful protest and his belief that “we as a city can rise out of this pivotal moment stronger.” 

McLeod, 29, has been a vocal equal rights activist during his time with the Eagles. 

This statement from McLeod comes in the wake of the senseless killing of George Floyd, a black man, in police custody in Minnesota. McLeod previously released a shorter statement saying an “officer should protect and serve the community, not brutalize, and kill innocent lives.” 

McLeod’s statement on Monday comes as a response to the protests that in some cases, and for various reasons, have turned violent and destructive in Philadelphia and around the country the last couple of days. 

View this post on Instagram

As a black man, it’s been a painful and disturbing time throughout our nation and city; the ugly reminders of injustice and systemic racism will continue to haunt us as a country until we enact change. Peaceful protest, lifting our voices in solidarity, and civil-engagement are all a part of the change process. Defacing our communities only offers a shortcut to the progress we all want to see. I believe we as a city can rise out of this pivotal moment stronger, we have an opportunity to course-correct for our future’s sake, and together, each of us can reflect the attitude necessary to be better and do better. I am encouraging us all to speak our peace. #georgefloyd #justiceforgeorgefloyd

A post shared by Rodney Mcleod (@rodmcleod4) on

Here’s the full text of McLeod’s statement: 

As a black man, it’s been a painful and disturbing time throughout our nation and city; the ugly reminders of injustice and systemic racism will continue to haunt us as a country until we enact change. Peaceful protest, lifting our voices in solidarity, and civil-engagement are all a part of the change process. Defacing our communities only offers a shortcut to the progress we all want to see. I believe we as a city can rise out of this pivotal moment stronger, we have an opportunity to course-correct for our future’s sake, and together, each of us can reflect the attitude necessary to be better and do better. I am encouraging us all to speak our peace. #georgefloyd #justiceforgeorgefloyd

Floyd, 46, was killed in Minneapolis last week when a police officer pushed his knee into Floyd’s neck for an extended period of time while he was handcuffed. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired and eventually arrested and charged with third-degree murder. 

McLeod previously joined Malcolm Jenkins during the 2016 and 2017 season by protesting during the national anthem as a demonstration against police brutality and racial injustice. 

Jenkins, now a member of the New Orleans Saints, joined marching protesters in Philadelphia this weekend: 

Like McLeod, several other Eagles and former Eagles have reacted to the death of Floyd. Perhaps most notably, quarterback Carson Wentz spoke out against “institutional racism” in a statement last week.

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Is there hope for Sidney Jones?

Is there hope for Sidney Jones?

Who’s CB2?
 
Whenever we toss around all the scenarios, there’s one that’s so unlikely we generally just dismiss it outright.
 
What if Sidney Jones can play?
 
The Eagles currently seem to have Avonte Maddox penciled in at outside corner opposite Darius Slay, the three-time Pro Bowler they acquired in March from the Lions. That would leave Cre’Von LeBlanc and Nickell Roby-Coleman competing for the slot.
 
It’s hard not to like what Maddox brings to the defense. He’s tough, physical, smart, instinctive and active. 
 
He’s also probably best suited to the slot and only projected as an outside corner because Jones has been injured and ineffective, Rasul Douglas has been inconsistent and prone to allowing big plays, Jalen Mills is now penciled in at safety and LeBlanc is also probably best as an inside corner as well.
 
It’s not ideal. 
 
But what if Jones figures it all out in Year 4? What if it all comes together mentally and physically for the former second-round pick out of Washington.
 
It’s hard to imagine because Jones’ first three NFL seasons have been so disappointing.
 
The first year he rehabbed the Achilles, blown out before the draft at his pro day. The second year he started the first six games of the season in the slot before hamstring injuries ruined the rest of his season. And last year he was again in and out of the lineup with more hamstring injuries and eventually as a healthy scratch.
 
It’s not much of a resume.
 
But here’s the thing about Sidney.
 
We’ve seen some flashes. Enough that we can at least pose the question: Can Sidney Jones be a viable starting cornerback for the Eagles in 2020?
 
Let’s look at those first six games of 2018, before he got hurt. The Eagles only allowed eight TDs in those six games — sixth-best in the league at that point — and were fourth in the NFL allowing just 18.3 points per game. That was with Jones playing about 40 snaps per game.
 
And there were moments last year where he showed up.
 
He picked off Matt Ryan with the Eagles down 10-3 in Atlanta to set up a field goal. He batted down Dak Prescott’s 4th-down pass to Michael Gallup in the final moments of a huge over the Cowboys. He had that INT off Daniel Jones at the Eagles’ 6-yard-line at the Meadowlands on the final day a week later to seal a win and get the Eagles into the playoffs.
 
It’s not a lot to go on. And certainly the disappointing moments have outnumbered the encouraging ones by a long shot.
 
Getting benched against the Vikings. Hamstring injury after hamstring injury. Dropping below Craig James and even Orlando Scandrick at one point on the depth chart. A healthy scratch in last year’s playoff loss to the Seahawks. 
 
But here’s the thing. Jones just turned 24 last week. He’s younger than Andre Dillard, who’s only in his second season. At one point before his 2017 pro day he was seen as a mid-first-round talent.
 
We’ve seen him make a few plays that make you think, “Maybe?”
 
If he can ever get his hamstrings healthy enough to run, can he be a viable starter?
 
Heck, as CB2 he wouldn’t even have to match up with the best receivers the Eagles face. Slay would handle that, and Jones would only have to contend with the other team’s WR2.
 
This is Jones’ last chance with the Eagles. He’s going into the final year of his four-year rookie deal, and if he doesn’t figure this thing out this summer, his next opportunity will be somewhere else.
 
Sometimes last chances have a way of getting a player’s attention. Maybe something will click, he’ll find a way to get physically stronger and more durable and get his speed back to the 4.47 he ran at the combine.
 
Is any of this likely? Honestly? No. 
 
The odds are against Jones. He’s a longshot at this point. 
 
But when you’ve seen a guy make plays here and there, it’s hard not to wonder whether he can make them consistently.
 
In this strangest of NFL offseasons, maybe we all have one more giant surprise in store for us.

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles