Eagles' Howie Roseman has handed out pay cuts as well as contract extensions

Howie Roseman gave new contracts to four key Eagles, but he also lowered the deals of four others. "We may not be delivering good news, but they're going to feel like we were very transparent," he said of the players.
Howie Roseman gave new contracts to four key Eagles, but he also lowered the deals of four others. "We may not be delivering good news, but they're going to feel like we were very transparent," he said of the players. (MATT ROURKE / Associated Press)
Posted: October 15, 2012

The Eagles locker room seems happier this season as opposed to last.

Winning will do that.

Despite the popular perception four months ago after Joe Banner stepped down as team president, the locker room didn't suddenly turn into Tijuana when general manager Howie Roseman formally assumed the handling of all contract matters.

Roseman had been in charge, really, as far back as February. He, with Jeffrey Lurie's blessing and Andy Reid's counsel, engineered contract extensions for four key members of the Eagles.

Roseman locked up young talents DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy by handing them their first big deals, and secured veteran stalwarts Trent Cole and Todd Herremans with extensions well into their 30s.

The moves were widely praised at the time. Almost everyone enjoys the spending of others' money. If it were up to Roseman, he'd probably empty Lurie's pockets if the NFL didn't have a salary cap.

But a cap there is, and tough decisions have to be made, the kind that aren't gleefully announced by the team and culminate with celebratory new conferences.

Since late February, when defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins agreed to "restructure" his contract, the Eagles have lowered contracts for four players - five if you include defensive tackle Antonio Dixon, who agreed to take a pay cut but was released anyway.

This was not usual for an Eagles offseason, but as Roseman explained, this was an unusual several months for the team. The two most prominent players who saw their salaries decreased were tackle Jason Peters and defensive tackle Mike Patterson.

Because they were placed on the nonfootball injury or illness list, Peters and Patterson were "not entitled to any compensation," according to the collective bargaining agreement.

So the Eagles could have cut their pay entirely. Instead, Peters' salary was trimmed from $7.9 million to $4 million and Patterson's from $2.1 million to $1.05 million. While it is unlikely either returns this season, they can earn back that money if they play.

Patterson, the Eagles' longest-tenured player, suffered a seizure in August 2011 and learned soon after that he had an anteriorvenous malformation in his brain. Rather than have immediate surgery, Patterson played last season with the condition and took medication to control any seizures.

In January, he had the malformation removed. However, by the start of camp the Eagles said that he would not play in the preseason. In August, when he was placed on the nonfootball injury or illness list, the Eagles approached Patterson about the pay cut, he said last week.

"I don't have no problem with it," Patterson said. "It was a lot of money and whatnot, but I'm not out on the field."

Peters suffered his injury in March while working out in Texas. In May, ESPN reported that Peters and Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, who also ruptured his Achilles tendon about the same time, would be subject to the pay reduction. But Baltimore never cut a dime from Suggs' $4.9 million salary, according to NFL sources.

Suggs does have a better chance of playing this season than Peters, who has been to three Pro Bowls with the Eagles and was widely considered the best left tackle in the game a year ago. He has been rehabbing with the Eagles but has declined to answer questions.

Roseman said the cuts were made with the big picture in mind.

After Peters' injury, Roseman signed tackles Demetress Bell and King Dunlap to $3.15 million and $925,000 in guaranteed contracts. The Eagles are approximately $22 million under this year's $120 million cap, but could push some of it forward to cover the $15 million they are projected to be over next season.

"We're trying to have as much flexibility to have as many good players as possible," Roseman said. "Now and going forward."

The Eagles were loaded on the defensive line heading into camp. Even with Patterson sidelined there were going to be difficult decisions. As he neared the deadline to trim the roster to 53, Roseman approached defensive end Darryl Tapp and Dixon about taking cuts to stay.

Tapp, who was slated to earn $2.575 million, said he had no other choice but to accept a reduction that now pays him $825,000.

"If I were to make a prideful decision and I were to get traded, then you have to go learn a new system three practice days before the first game," he said.

Tapp, who has 19 tackles and half a sack this season, was asked why the Eagles didn't give him the option earlier.

"That's a valid question, but I have no idea," Tapp said. "Regardless of what they did or how they approached it, or where their mind frame was, in my heart I wanted to be here."

Roseman said that he maintained constant communication with the players and made sure that they were aware of their options.

"We may not be delivering good news," Roseman said, "but they're going to feel like we were very transparent."

When the regime change was announced in June, one popular story line was that Roseman's gentler approach would be more effective with agents and in the locker room than Banner's hard-line stance.

Banner wasn't always chummy with the players, but it was by design so that Reid would maintain the loyalty of the team. Asked if the locker room was a happier place with Roseman, Patterson said the players still had their "backbone."

"Big Red," Patterson said of Reid. "He knows what players he wants, and I'm sure they respect him enough to do what he wants."

Reid, of course, has final say on football matters, which means he is involved in all contract decisions. Despite Roseman's attempts to be transparent with the players, someone still has to play bad cop to Reid's good cop.

"I've been in the game long enough to know it's a business," Tapp said. "They're kind of saying that things are better now that Howie's leading. But he's still a business guy."

Contact Jeff McLane at jmclane@phillynews.com or on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.

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