Inside the Eagles: At this Eagles camp, coach Andy Reid's contract is the issue

Posted: August 13, 2012

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Sports agents work for their clients. It's not the other way around.

So when Bob LaMonte, Andy Reid's agent, showed up at Eagles training camp looking to leverage Jeffrey Lurie into contract negotiations - six days after the death of the head coach's son - he was doing it at the behest of his boss.

Otherwise, had LaMonte indeed gone rogue, spurring a damning rebuttal from Lurie - again, six days after Reid's son, Garrett, was found dead in his Lehigh University dormitory room - wouldn't the coach have at least condemned his agent's tactics?

Some might say it was a fireable offense.

And yet, when Reid was asked whether LaMonte's comments to a handful of reporters on Saturday were ill-timed, the coach didn't seem the least bit annoyed.

"It's fine. That's not where [LaMonte] was really coming from," Reid said Sunday. "I understand both sides. . . . I got it. I know the picture. So I'm not worried about all that."

Then what was the notoriously secretive LaMonte trying to do? Sit down with a handful of reporters he routinely avoids or speaks to in most cases off-the-record for a 22-minute, 'Hey, let's catch up, friend" interview?

It was so clear what LaMonte was trying to accomplish - he brought up the old story about Lurie always telling him that as long as he is owner, Reid is his coach - that Lurie fired off a succinct, 67-word statement less than two hours after the agent made his comments.

"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," Lurie said in the meat of the statement.

Translation: You have two years remaining on your contract, you haven't won a playoff game in four years, you're coming off a bad season, and you want to talk contract extension now?

Reid distanced himself from LaMonte's ploy.

"I don't even go beyond that," the coach said. "I didn't even go through and read all the stuff, but it seemed like both people were positive, and that's not even where I'm at."

Positive? Really? If LaMonte weren't Reid's agent, Lurie would have ushered him to the stands the way the Eagles handled Drew Rosenhaus last August when he showed up at camp with DeSean Jackson looking for a new deal. That's how not positive the relationship is right now.

When Reid was asked whether he knew LaMonte had planned to broach his contract situation during an impromptu news conference, he did not answer and instead joked, "You guys are so attractive, that he just gravitated to you."

Reid obviously knew, which - depending on your viewpoint - is either disingenuous considering the timing or inevitable considering the tenuous footing he has in Philadelphia.

Reid and LaMonte may be looking for an extension, but they also are looking at the big picture. They are looking beyond this season in case the Eagles deliver another dud and Lurie finally does cut the cord.

So they are trying to create a narrative, one in which Reid is seen as an owner's coach, a close confidant to Lurie, one who can sit down with his boss over a couple of Perriers and hammer out a new deal whenever they like.

"I think the best thing that Bob said was if and when it ever came down to that, it's between Jeff and I," Reid said. "So I'm lucky, lucky to have him as an owner."

Reid's offseason makeover wasn't just because Lurie insisted he be more amiable with reporters. The owner had been asking him to do that for years. It's so Reid will look more appealing to another team should he need another job.

And he would get a job with virtually no effort. But would it be a job he craves - one with authority over all football matters (San Diego?)?

The Eagles, meanwhile, have a season to play - Reid's 14th with the team. There are high expectations, as there have been for probably the last 12 seasons. Maybe this is the year they finally win a Super Bowl.

The talent is there. Reid and general manager Howie Roseman made a concerted effort to lock up a number of their players - e.g. Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Trent Cole - to long-term contracts so there would be no distractions during the season.

The irony, of course, is that Reid's contract situation has become a mini-drama - of his and LaMonte's doing - and could fester through the season.

LaMonte was at practice Sunday - as was Lurie - but he was more low-key and moved like Jackson each time a reporter neared. Perhaps Reid thought his agent had gone too far and put a muzzle on him.

Reid still works for Lurie, after all. It's not the other way around.


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

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