Rick Lovato

Eagles sign long snapper Rick Lovato to 4-year contract extension

Eagles sign long snapper Rick Lovato to 4-year contract extension

A few years ago, Rick Lovato was working in his family’s restaurant, Joyce’s Subs and Pizza, in Lincroft, New Jersey, just waiting for a chance.

He wasn’t the best at making pizza, but Lovato could make a mean breakfast sandwich. 

Maybe he still can, but Lovato won’t have to worry about picking up an apron again anytime soon. He’s in the middle of what might end up being a long and profitable NFL career. 

The Eagles on Tuesday signed the 27-year-old long snapper to a four-year extension that will keep him in Philadelphia through the 2023 season. 

Lovato has been playing this season on a one-year deal he signed in February and was scheduled to become a restricted free agent after this season. It’s worth noting that kicker Jake Elliott and punter Cameron Johnston are also in the final years of their contracts, so perhaps another move or two will be coming. 

While this deal won’t break the bank the way Brandon Brooks’ extension did last week, the Eagles seem interested right now in re-signing some players they want to keep around. 

The Eagles initially signed Lovato in December of 2016 after Jon Dorenbos broke his wrist. Lovato performed well enough that the Eagles traded Dorenbos the following August and made Lovato their full-time long snapper. 

Lovato has played in 45 regular-season games and five playoff games with the Eagles, including Super Bowl LII. He has a giant Lombardi Trophy tattooed on his side. 

Being a long snapper is kind of like being an offensive lineman in some ways. The less you hear about the long snapper, the more likely he’s performing well and not making mistakes. So, for Lovato’s sake, hopefully this is the last time you hear his name for a few years.  

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Eagles sign Jake Elliott and Rick Lovato to one-year deals

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USA Today Images

Eagles sign Jake Elliott and Rick Lovato to one-year deals

The Eagles will have all three of their specialists back for the 2019 season. 

On Friday afternoon, the Eagles announced they signed kicker Jake Elliott and long snapper Rick Lovato to one-year deals that will take them through the next NFL season. 

Both players were set to become exclusive rights free agents, so the Eagles basically controlled their rights. It should have been a no-brainer to bring both back. 

The deals are just one-year contracts similar to what the exclusive rights deals would have been, according to league sources. 

Punter Cameron Johnston was already under contract for the 2019 season, so the trio of specialists will be intact for at least one more year. 

Elliott, 23, joined the Eagles in Week 2 of the 2017 season when Caleb Sturgis was injured. The Eagles signed him off the Bengals’ practice squad; the Bengals had drafted him in the fifth round. With the Eagles, Elliott went on to have a really good rookie season, highlighted by the 61-yard game-winner against the Giants in Week 3. He also hit a 42-yarder and a 46-yarder in Super Bowl LII. 

In both of his first two seasons with the Eagles, Elliott has made 26 of 31 field goal attempts. He is 7 of 11 from 50-plus during his first two NFL seasons. 

Lovato, 26, joined the Eagles in Week 15 of the 2016 season after Jon Dorenbos broke his wrist. The next year, Lovato beat out Dorenbos for the long snapper job. When Lovato was signed during 2016, he had been working at his family’s restaurant in New Jersey. 

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NFL free agency 2019: A comprehensive look at Eagles' special teamers

NFL free agency 2019: A comprehensive look at Eagles' special teamers

Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Andrew Kulp continue the 2019 edition of Stay or Go, trying to figure out the future of the Eagles.

Today, they’ll look at the specialists. 

Jake Elliott

Roob: The PAT miss in Dallas was brutal, but Elliott is very good — 86 percent on field goal attempts in his career (13th highest all-time), perfect in the postseason (8 for 8), an NFL all-time-best 22 for 24 in his career from 40 to 49 yards (91 percent) and 19 for 21 in the fourth quarter (91 percent), eighth best all-time. 

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Elliott is an exclusive rights free agent, which means he can’t negotiate with other teams. If the Eagles tender him, he doesn’t have anywhere else to go, so once he signs the tender, he’ll have a one-year deal at a minimum salary or the Eagles can just sign him to a different deal. That stuff is boring and it doesn’t really matter. Just know he isn’t going anywhere. Elliott has been pretty good in his two years in Philly and has made all eight of his postseason field goals. He seems to be clutch. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: Percentages-wise, Elliott is roughly league average on field goals and extra points. The misses inside 40 yards are frustrating, but he’s been a weapon from distance and in clutch situations. Elliott is an exclusive rights free agent, too, which pretty much means the Eagles can pay him peanuts for another year. This is not the time to get cute and look elsewhere.

Verdict: Stays

Cameron Johnston

Roob: The Eagles lost the greatest punter in franchise history and may have landed one that’s even better. Never thought I’d say that, but Johnston averaged a franchise-record 48.2 yards per punt this year, the 22nd-highest average in NFL history, and although he wasn’t technically a rookie, his average was fourth-highest ever by a punter 26 or younger. The Eagles are lucky to have him.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: It wasn’t technically his rookie season, but Johnston was great as a first-year player. He had a gross punting average of 48.1 and a net of 42.7 in 2018 — both were single-season franchise records. And he also got better with directional punts. He’s under contract. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: He needs to improve his directional kicking, for sure, yet there was a lot to like about Johnston’s first season. Finished third in the NFL with a 48.1 average per punt and tied for third with a 42.7 net average. He also tied for second with seven touchbacks and had the fewest punts of the eight players with six or more, so there’s work to be done. Still a strong debut overall.

Verdict: Stays

Rick Lovato

Roob: There aren’t any stats for long snappers, but Lovato seems to get the ball there just fine, so he must be doing a good job. Lovato is following a legend in Jon Dorenbos, but he’s done a nice job since replacing Dorenbos late in the 2016 season and there’s certainly no reason to change now.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Lovato is a restricted free agent, but there won’t be a ton of teams banging down the door. And he really …  you know … long-snapped well in 2018. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Lovato is a restricted free agent, though I’m not sure what the alternative is here. He’s been getting the job done the last two seasons and built a rapport with the kickers. He’s 26. Long snappers tend not to move around a lot, and the pay sort of is what it is, usually maxing out around $1 million per year for the established guys. No real reason to expect any change.

Verdict: Stays

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