Andy Reid's agent tells Jeff Lurie he's ready to negotiate a new contract

Posted: August 12, 2012

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Bob LaMonte came to deliver a statement and it was heard by Jeffrey Lurie.

Andy Reid's agent tossed the first salvo. The Eagles owner didn't budge, however, and he quickly responded with a counterpunch.

Saturday's back and forth between LaMonte and Lurie - played out through reporters - was probably just the first round of what could turn into a heavyweight bout over Reid's future with the Eagles if the season goes awry.

LaMonte, one of the NFL's power players - representative to more executives, coaches and coordinators than any other agent in the league - arrived at Eagles training camp looking to send a message to Lurie.

The message: My client is about to enter the second-to-last year of his contract and we're ready to play ball.

LaMonte, of course, did not come out and say so. A Machiavellian character if there ever was one, the agent spoke with bravado every time he was asked about the clock that seemingly appears to be ticking on Reid.

And he and Reid, who is entering his 14th season in Philadelphia, have some muscle after Joe Banner stepped down (was pushed out) as team president in June. But the more LaMonte flexed the weaker he sounded.

"I don't think there's any pressure for him to do any more than he was the year before or the year before that," LaMonte said Saturday at Lehigh University. "His production speaks for itself and I think the Eagles have a chance to have a good team this year. And I don't think anybody sat down with Andy and said, 'If you don't win X number of games you're in trouble.' "

The Eagles could very well win theirs and Reid's first Super Bowl this season. They may reach the final game or the NFC championship and the question of Reid's future would probably be moot. But what happens if the Eagles are one and done in the playoffs, or fail to make the postseason or, even worse, repeat last season's "unacceptable" 8-8 record?

It was Lurie who deemed 2011 "unacceptable" during a sometimes scathing assessment of last season in a January news conference. The owner, of course, essentially accepted the result when he retained Reid.

But it was the harshest he has ever been of his longtime coach. It would be difficult to stand up at that podium again and deliver the same speech if Reid were to deliver a repeat performance in 2012.

LaMonte said that Lurie "has stated again and again, any time that I've been with him that as long as he's the owner of the Eagles Andy Reid would be his coach. And I'd say the proof of the pie is in the pudding. He's been here 14 years."

The agent, of course, did not specify the last time he had spoken to Lurie. It's fair to assume that they did converse back in December 2009 when Reid, about to enter the final year of his contact, was rewarded with a three-year extension.

Maybe Lurie patted old Bob on the back after the papers were signed and said something of that nature. That was almost three years ago, though. Reid was still a year removed from an NFC championship appearance and the memory of a 2004 Super Bowl appearance was still relatively fresh.

But two first-round playoff exits have followed and then there was last season's disaster. LaMonte may have puffed his chest out on Saturday, but he and Reid have never held so few cards. Lurie's statement, in response to LaMonte's impromptu news conference, essentially gave the agent the Heisman.

"Bob is a great agent who we have an outstanding relationship with," Lurie said. "As much respect as all of us have for Andy Reid, it is the nature of the profession that all coaches, executives and players are evaluated each year. That's the way we have always operated. But our focus right now, and I know Andy feels the same way, is solely on the upcoming 2012 season."

If Lurie operated on a year-to-year basis then Reid's last extension would have never happened. If the Eagles were to go 10-2 by early December, it's possible Lurie gives LaMonte what he wants.

But it's unlikely. Reid's future will probably depend on his postseason success.

"When someone's been at a place for 14 years, that's almost getting to a degree where that's between he and the owner," LaMonte said. "It isn't like they don't know each other. In all honesty, the last time that was simply something that got done . . . very quickly and very easily."

Banner negotiated that extension and the ones before that. He is gone, soon to be the Browns' next president. Howie Roseman, who answers to Reid and shares the same agent, won't help Lurie decide Reid's fate.

It will be Lurie and Lurie alone.

LaMonte joked that whenever Reid leaves Philly he'll come back the following year, have a drink with reporters and listen to them say, "Wow, we never realized how good we had it."

He was talking to reporters and, by extension, Eagles fans.

But the message was for Lurie, and Lurie didn't seem to like it.


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

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