The Eagles resolved their biggest offseason headache Monday afternoon when they agreed to terms on a six-year contract extension with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, giving the four-year veteran the third-most guaranteed money in NFL history.
The deal is worth $103 million over six years with $63 million guaranteed, according to a league source. ESPN first reported the figures.
The deal starts in 2017 and runs through 2022.
Cox would have become an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the 2016 season if the Eagles had been unable to re-sign him before the start of free agency in March.
The only players given more guaranteed money in their contracts in NFL history are Eli Manning ($65 million) and Philip Rivers ($65 million). Manning's deal began with $54 million guaranteed before increasing to $65 million.
The previous record for most guaranteed money for a defensive tackle is the $60 million given this offseason to Marcell Dareus of the Bills, with Ndamukong Suh of the Dolphins just behind at $59.955 million.
The most guaranteed money the Eagles have previously given out is $35 million to Lane Johnson this offseason and $32.5 million to Michael Vick in the summer of 2011.
Cox, the Eagles' first-round pick in 2012, started nine games as a rookie and was one of only two Eagles to start every game during Chip Kelly’s three seasons as head coach. The other was Connor Barwin.
The Eagles said Cox, head coach Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman, the team’s executive vice president of football operations and chief contract negotiator, would not be available to comment until Cox officially signs the deal, presumably later this week.
Cox has 22 sacks, six fumble recoveries, 162 tackles and nine pass knockdowns in his four NFL seasons.
His 22 sacks already rank sixth in Eagles history by a defensive tackle, behind Andy Harmon (39½), Kenny Clark (32½), Corey Simon (32), Jerome Brown (29½) and Darwin Walker (27½).
Cox, only 25, had a breakthrough season last year with 9½ sacks, but no statistics really measure his impact on the defense. He’s a force against the run, he’s developed into a powerful pass rusher from the inside and he’s durable enough that he played 983 snaps last year, fourth-most of any NFL defensive lineman.
He was rewarded for his play after the season with his first Pro Bowl selection.
In a series of tweets, Cox wrote: “WHAT A TIME..!!!!!” then “Thankful …” and finally, “I would like to thank Mr.Lurie and the whole Eagles organization ….”
I would like to thank Mr.Lurie and the whole Eagles organization ....— fletcher cox (@fcoxx_91) June 13, 2016
Roseman had insisted throughout the offseason, even after the team re-signed Sam Bradford, Vinny Curry, Malcolm Jenkins, Johnson and Zach Ertz and added free agents Brandon Brooks, Rodney McLeod, Chase Daniel, Nigel Bradham, Ron Brooks and Leodis McKelvin, that the team had enough money under the salary cap to get the Cox deal done.
Both Pederson and Roseman insisted throughout the summer that re-signing Cox was a priority, possibly sacrificing some leverage to make sure Cox understood how much he was wanted.
Although Cox’s deal is the richest ever for a defensive player in terms of guaranteed components, it’s in the same general ballpark in terms of total compensation as deals that other top NFL defensive linemen have signed.
Suh got $114,375,000 over six years with $59.955 guaranteed, J.J. Watt’s deal is worth $100,005,425 over six years with $51,876,000 guaranteed, Dareus was paid $96,574,118 with $60 million guaranteed and Gerald McCoy’s deal is worth $95,200,000 with $51,500,000 in total guaranteed components.
The Eagles now have nine players signed through at least 2020 — Carson Wentz, Jenkins, McLeod, Jason Kelce, Brooks, Curry, Ertz, Johnson and Cox.