Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman has been busy. Just one day after wisely extending left tackle Jason Peters, the Eagles are rumored to have a long-term contract extension in place with wide receiver Riley Cooper.
League source tells me Riley Cooper will sign a 4-year deal tomorrow with Eagles. @Jeff_McLane and PFT reported today that deal was close.
— Geoff Mosher (@GeoffMosherCSN) February 27, 2014
After finishing last year on a high note, many expected Cooper to sign a big money contract extension, just not with Philadelphia. A few weeks back, however, rumors began circulating that Cooper badly wanted to return to the Eagles even at a discount. That exact scenario seems to have unfolded over the past few weeks. Current speculation is that the Eagles will extend Cooper for $3 to $4 million annually, which would likely be less than Cooper would command on the open market.
While Eagles insiders speculated that the team was leaning toward re-signing Cooper’s teammate, Jeremy Maclin, to a one year ”prove it” deal, it seems that Roseman was intent on locking up Cooper all along. Roseman’s ability to dangle the possibility of bringing back Maclin may have provided the Eagles with the necessary negotiation leverage to get a deal done before the start of free agency.
It’s easy to understand why Cooper would be eager to re-sign with the Eagles. Under Chip Kelly, he truly broke out during his fourth year in the league, setting new career highs across the board. He has also established roots in the local community as well as developed an uncommon bond with Eagles players who banded together to support him in the wake of his racist rant at a Kenny Chesney concert last July. The prospect of explaining last summer’s controversy to a new locker room of teammates may have weighed on Cooper’s mind.
The bigger question surrounding Cooper’s future this offseason revolved around whether or not the Eagles were ready to forgive and forget and commit to Cooper despite his off-the-field behavior. After re-examining game film and scouting the current crop of free agent wide receivers, the team decided its best No. 2 wide receiver option was available in-house.
While Cooper lacks breakaway speed, he was one of the most productive No. 2 receivers in the NFL in 2013. During the regular season, he posted 47 receptions for 835 yards and eight touchdowns. Cooper’s blocking proficiency and deep understanding of Kelly’s scheme, which requires wide receivers to frequently set blocks on the perimeter, also makes him uniquely valuable to the Eagles.
While some NFL experts speculated that some of Cooper’s teammates still hold a grudge against the embattled wide receiver, recent public remarks by team leaders such as LeSean McCoy confirm that most players in the Eagles’ locker room now support Cooper. And with a four-year contact extension in place, they won’t have a choice.