One of the major priorities for the Philadelphia Eagles over the 2016 offseason was getting to work on a long-term extension with their best defensive player, Fletcher Cox. Cox, the Eagles’ best defensive lineman, was entering the second-to-last year of his rookie contract, and the team wanted to make sure he had no chance of hitting the open market. They were able to do just that by signing him to a 6-year, $103 million deal to stay in Philadelphia.
The contract at first glance my sound like a ridiculous number, but the deal is actually fairly close to Cox’s market value. The deal will make Cox the second highest defensive lineman in the league based off of yearly average behind only Ndamukong Suh. Cox is definitely a top-five defensive lineman, but the fact that he is getting paid more than J.J. Watt is a little bit troubling. Because of that, this deal will have to be classified as an overpayment.
However, Cox officially will be getting $63 million in guarantees which is the largest total for a non-quarterback in NFL history. That is probably the most egregious part of the deal. Though Cox may be worth that value to the Eagles, he is not worth that on the league market. By comparison, he is making roughly $11 million more in guarantees than Watt, which is absurd. Granted, he might be second best in the league to Watt at his position, but he is not worth more than Watt, even if you factor in that Cox is just 25.
This is a classic case of a team overpaying to ensure that they can keep their best player long-term. So while he is being paid higher than the market value, the team is paying him based off of what they perceive him to be worth to their success. There is inherent risk in this move, but Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz probably decided that it was best for their team moving forward.
If Cox can avoid injuries and prove that he will not become lethargic after getting a new deal, then this will pay off for the team. If not, then this will eat up a significant amount of their cap space over time and it could cripple the team financially. I have faith that Cox will be able to do continue to do well in the team’s defense and it will likely be a decent investment by the Eagles.