Herremans, Cole get Eagles extensions

Posted: March 13, 2012

There was nothing sexy about it, but the Eagles took care of two of their own rather than being lured into signing the hottest players on the market on the first day of NFL free agency.

Todd Herremans and Trent Cole received contract extensions as the Eagles devoted their attention to locking up and rewarding a few of their longtime loyalists.

Last offseason, the Eagles were spendthrifts in free agency, and a few homegrown players privately grumbled about the team's allocation of funds. But Herremans and Cole never griped about being - comparatively speaking - underpaid.

On Tuesday, they were paid for their patience. Of course, being productive and consistent over their seven seasons with the Eagles didn't hurt their cause.

Herremans, it can be said, saved the Eagles last season when he effortlessly moved from left guard to right tackle. After a handful of candidates failed to effectively fill in for the injured Winston Justice, Herremans solidified the position and the offensive line, which eventually became one of the team's stronger units.

Three years were added to the 29-year-old's contract, which was extended through the 2016 season. While Herreman's base salaries for the next two seasons - $2.2 million and $2.6 million - will remain the same, he will earn about $11 million more in guaranteed money and potentially $21 million more overall.

"When they moved me back to tackle, my escalator in my contract did bump my pay a little bit, but maybe this was just out of good faith," Herremans said during a news conference at the NovaCare Complex. "They're happy with what I've been doing here, and I've been working hard. I haven't been complaining about my contract."

Cole's deal wasn't announced by the Eagles, but an NFL source said that a contract had been agreed to in principal and that only a few details needed to be ironed out. The structure of the extension will mirror that of Herremans, with the defensive end getting three more years.

Cole recorded a double-digit number of sacks for the fourth time in the last five seasons. With 68 career sacks, he is third in Eagles history behind Reggie White (124) and Clyde Simmons (76.5).

The Eagles' commitment to Cole suggested they were out of contention for Mario Williams - the top pass-rusher in free agency - if they were contenders at all. With Cole and Jason Babin, one of last season's high-priced acquisitions, the team has complementary starting bookends on the defensive line.

Despite the frenzy of the first day of free agency, the Eagles were content to sit on the sideline. Ten of their players officially became unrestricted free agents at 4 p.m., although not one signed with another team.

Even guard Evan Mathis, considered to be the most sought-after of the crop, remained unsigned despite rumors that Tampa Bay and Indianapolis were interested. The Eagles appear committed to keeping Mathis, who blossomed as Herremans' replacement last season.

"He texted me earlier today and congratulated me," Herremans said of Mathis. "I said, 'Thanks, and hopefully we can get you done and back in green.' "

A report that the Eagles were trying to bring in two-time Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks of the Saints for a visit was shot down by a league source.

The Eagles have been linked to free-agent linebacker Dan Connor, but the Strath Haven High product reportedly was scheduled to visit Dallas, where former Penn State teammate Sean Lee resides.

Connor is not at the top of the list of available linebackers, and the Eagles, despite the obvious need at linebacker, appear intent on waiting to make a move until the market is set. Not one free-agent linebacker was signed Tuesday.

The Falcons' Curtis Lofton reportedly was close to agreeing to a contract with Tampa Bay, but no deal was struck. Linebackers Stephen Tulloch, David Hawthorne, and London Fletcher remained obtainable by the end of the day.

The Eagles did work out a free agent, but the 33-year-old Ben Leber isn't exactly going to excite the fan base. Leber played for the Rams last season but was cut in December and was brought in Tuesday for a look-see.

While the Eagles are likely to acquire a linebacker at some point, probably a backup running back and maybe some depth on the defensive line, the feeling emanating from the NovaCare over the last few weeks was that they were never going to be major players in free agency.

"We really feel that we don't need any extra pieces brought to us in free agency," Herremans said. "We feel that the team we have in the locker room can make a great run and go the Super Bowl next year."

The Herremans and Cole extensions signaled that the Eagles were focused on their housekeeping. They already put the franchise tag on DeSean Jackson. The wide receiver will sign the one-year tender very soon, according to league sources.

The Eagles said they are committed to hammering out a long-term deal with Jackson. They also hope to sign running back LeSean McCoy to an extension before the start of next season.


Contact Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745, jmclane@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane

 

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