How Eagles convinced Blake Countess to take a pay cut

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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.

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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!

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Eagles’ defenders have seen those moves from Boston Scott before

Eagles’ defenders have seen those moves from Boston Scott before

There were plenty of people surprised about Boston Scott’s breakout performance on Monday night against the Giants. 

Eagles defenders were not among them. 

After a year of trying to stop Scott in practice, they were aware of just how dangerous the 5-foot-6 running back can be. They weren’t even surprised about this devastating juke move Scott put on veteran corner Janoris Jenkins in the fourth quarter. 

Heck, it’s even happened to Rodney McLeod before. 

“Yeah,” McLeod said with a laugh. “Well, I don’t know about that bad. I gotta talk to Jenk about that one. But, yeah, he’s given me a move in the open field. He has a good change of direction ability and quick burst. Glad to see him making plays for us.”

In the 23-17 overtime win, Scott finished with 10 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown and added six catches for 69 yards.   

His 128 yards from scrimmage are the most ever in a game for the Eagles from a guy formerly on their practice squad. 

Scott finally got a chance to shine in a game, but he’s been shining in practice for a while now. Eagles defenders seemed happy that this time it was against Jenkins and the Giants.  

“He does that to us,” Nate Gerry said. “He’s done that for the last year.” 

Scott was a sixth-round pick by New Orleans out of Louisiana Tech last year. He arrived to Philadelphia last December after the Eagles signed him off the Saints’ practice squad. He spent the remainder of last year on the roster, but didn’t really get a chance to play. 

This offseason, Scott had a good training camp but Darren Sproles returned, which basically bumped him to the practice squad. He stayed there until Oct. 11 and didn’t really get a chance to play much until Monday night. 

But Scott was impressive all summer and even earlier this year in practice. 

“He definitely has that switch,” linebacker T.J. Edwards said. “He has that burst that’s a little bit different from others. You definitely saw that on the field, that they weren’t expecting because they didn’t know who he was. But he was definitely a big factor.”

Earlier this week, head coach Doug Pederson said Eagles will find a role for Scott in the offense going forward. With four games left, Scott might be able to make an impact. 

Based on the reactions in the locker room since Scott’s breakout performance, he seems to be a favorite of his teammates. Scott is the prototypical hard-worker, gets in early, leaves late, just needed a chance. He finally got it and made the most of it. 

“It wasn’t a surprise for me at all,” McLeod said. “I’m just really glad he got his opportunity to get out there and showcase what he can do.”

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A record for Boston Scott and more in this week's Roob Stats!

A record for Boston Scott and more in this week's Roob Stats!

If you want Boston Scott stats, you know where to go. If you want Carson Wentz, second-half defense and Eagles-Giants all-time series stats, you know where to go. Most importantly, if you want stats on two-yard touchdowns — and who doesn't? — you know exactly where to go.

Right here.

One thing we've learned over the years: The stranger the game, the better the stats. And Monday night's Eagles-Giants game was really strange.

HOT START FOR WARD: Greg Ward’s 11 catches are most in Eagles history by an undrafted player in his first four games. The previous high was nine, by both Paul Turner in 2016 and Mike Siano of Springfield (Delco) in the 1987 strike replacement games.  

HISTORIC SECOND HALF: The Eagles only allowed 29 yards after halftime in their 23-17 overtime win over the Giants. The last time they allowed fewer yards after halftime was Sept. 23, 2001, when the Seahawks netted only 23 in the second half of a 27-3 Eagles win in Seattle.

LEAVING SHADY BEHIND: With 69 scrimmage yards Monday night, Miles Sanders increased his total for this year to 948, most ever by an Eagles rookie running back. LeSean McCoy had 945 in 2009. Sanders now needs just 61 yards to break the overall franchise rookie scrimmage record of 1,008, set in 2008 by DeSean Jackson.

AND STILL CHASING SHADY: With 45 rushing yards, Sanders increased his season total to 565, passing Billy Ray Barnes (529), Mike Hogan (561) and Bryce Brown (564) and moving into a tie with Po James for 4th-most ever by an Eagle rookie. He needs 13 to pass Keith Byars, 22 to pass Correll Buckhalter and 73 to pass McCoy.

1) Scott's 120 scrimmage yards after halftime Monday night are the most by an Eagles RB after halftime since Shady had 170 in the second half in the Snow Bowl against the Lions in 2013.
2) Scott’s 128 scrimmage yards are the most ever by an Eagle who had been on the practice squad.
3) Scott is only the 7th Eagles running back since 1991 to net at least 128 scrimmage yards on 16 or fewer touches. Herschel Walker, Brian Mitchell, Correll Buckhalter, Brian Westbrook, McCoy and Sproles also did it.

FINALLY GAINING THE ALL-TIME EDGE: The Giants won the first three Eagles-Giants games [in 1933 and 1934] and 17 of the first 20 meetings. As recently as 2008, the Giants led the series 80-66. Going into Monday night, the all-time series was tied 84-84-2. The Eagles now lead the all-time series for the first time ever.

1) This was Ertz’s 19th game with nine or more catches. The only tight ends in NFL history with more are Tony Gonzalez [25] and Jason Witten [21]. Gonzalez played 270 games, Witten has played 252, Ertz has played 104.
2) Ertz has 827 receiving yards. He needs to average 58 in last three games to become the 9th tight end in NFL history with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
3) By surpassing 800 yards on Monday night, Ertz became the first Eagle in history with five straight 800-yard seasons. Mike Quick, Tommy McDonald, Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson and Harold Carmichael have all had four straight. The only other tight ends with five straight 800-yard seasons are Gonzalez (7), Witten (7), Travis Kelce (6) and Greg Olsen (5).

ELITE COMPANY: Carson Wentz has 22 TD passes and 7 INTs. If he throws three or more TDs in the final three games and no more than three interceptions, he’ll become only the 4th QB in NFL history with three straight seasons of at least 25 TD passes and 10 or fewer interceptions. That’s only been achieved by Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

A DUBIOUS DISTINCTION: With Alshon Jeffery’s season over at 490 receiving yards, Nelson Agholor stuck at 363 yards with a knee injury, Mack Hollins next with 125 yards and now on the Dolphins, there’s a real possibility the Eagles won’t have a wide receiver with 500 yards this year. The last time that happened was 1964, when their top wideout, Ray Poage, had 479 yards.

1) The Giants game was the first in franchise history in which the Eagles scored three 2-yard touchdowns.
2) Ertz became only the 5th player in NFL history and the first Eagle with two 2-yard touchdown catches in the same game.  
3) Ertz had more 2-yard touchdowns Monday [2] than he had in his previous 103 career games [1].

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