Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman has been busy. In less than 24 hours, he has wisely extended left tackle Jason Peters and re-signed free agent wide receiver Riley Cooper. Then this morning it was announced that the Eagles have also signed Pro Bowl center Jason Kelce to a long-term contract extension totaling $37.5 million over six years.
For Eagles C Jason Kelce, it’s a 6-year extension worth $37.5M. $13M guaranteed, $6.25M average. Total value: $40.1M. Top 5 center
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 27, 2014
The former sixth-round pick made a miraculous return from a major knee injury to become the No. 1 NFL center in 2013 per Pro Football Focus. He was scheduled to take home $645,000 in 2014 before signing this extension that will put him under contract through 2020. Including incentives, the deal carries a max value of $40.1 million and makes Kelce one of the top-5 highest paid centers in the league (on a per year basis).
By locking up both Kelce and Peters, Howie Roseman has ensured that the Eagles’ top-rated offensive line will remain intact heading into the 2014 season. Keeping all of last season’s starting offensive linemen together will provide a foundation for the continued improvement of Nick Foles, who absorbed 28 sacks over 10 starts in 2013. Trusting his offensive line is critical for his evolution.
Furthermore, as the first play of Super Bowl XLVIII (snap over the head of Peyton Manning) demonstrated, the rapport between quarterback and center is particularly important. Indeed, it would be a significant step back if the Eagles alienated Kelce, their best all-around offensive lineman, heading into the final year of his rookie contract. Extending him now was a logical move for offensive continuity, player morale and salary cap management purposes.