Eagles' deal for top pick Marcus Smith is a breeze

Posted: June 11, 2014

AGENTS NOSTALGIC for the days of exploding rookie signing bonuses might disagree, but for fans and media, having NFL draft picks slotted, with little contract negotiating required, is just the coolest thing ever.

Reporters who remember covering Day 6 of this or that first-round pick's training-camp absence, shuttling back and forth between the sides for updates, checking rumors of airport sightings, can scarcely comprehend a world where the top pick strolls into the NovaCare media room on June 9, his deal done, along with those of all the other Eagles draftees.

"I knew it was going to get done, because rookie contracts are slotted," Eagles linebacker Marcus Smith said after agreeing to a 4-year deal that should pay him a little less than $8 million, with about $4 million guaranteed.

He said there was some haggling the last few weeks over the back end of the deal. Agent Todd France did not respond to requests for comment.

"No matter what, everybody gets what they expect to get . . . I'm just happy that I finally got it done," Smith said.

Smith, the 26th overall pick in the first round, said his first priority is paying debts for his mother, Elba Wilson, back home in Columbus, Ga.

"She's been struggling for a long time," he said.

The 2011 collective bargaining agreement ended rampant rookie deal escalation. It was supposed to redistribute money from unproven rookies to veterans. The extent to which that has happened isn't clear.

Smith said Connor Barwin assured him there would be no rookie dinner for the linebackers, in the fashion of the $17,747.86 the offensive linemen racked up last weekend at Del Frisco's.

Foles on Kaepernick

Nick Foles' contract will be one of those recurring themes of the 2014 season. So far, Foles has been asked about it both times he has addressed reporters during Eagles organized team activities.

Yesterday, the topic pretty much had to come up, in the wake of the new deal signed by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, initially reported at $126 million, with $61 million guaranteed. It turned out to be a much more complex deal, with only about $13 million guaranteed at the start, and lots of incentives, which could be a way to go if you think you have a franchise quarterback and aren't quite absolutely certain, or if you just want to make sure your franchise quarterback keeps his edge after you've written him a big check.

Foles, as a third-round pick in 2012, will make $625,000 this year and isn't eligible for a salary upgrade until after the 2014 season - the same situation Kaepernick faced a year ago.

"I was just happy for him," Foles said of Kaepernick, who took the 49ers to the Super Bowl after the 2012 season and the NFC Championship Game last season. "He's played really well. I followed him in college when he was at Nevada."

Does this help set the market for Foles?

"You know. I've always said how I play, how our team is, how I am as a leader will take care of that when the time comes . . . If we're fortunate enough to get to that down the road, then we'll deal with it," said Foles, who threw 27 touchdown passes last season with only two interceptions.

Surely he monitors what the QB market is doing? (It's skyrocketing.)

"Not really," Foles said. "I think, you start worrying about numbers, you stop worrying about what you're doing, that's where you mess up. None of that really matters, I'm happy for those guys, that they're doing well, but my most important thing is being successful with my teammates.

"All that business stuff, all that other stuff'll take care of itself down the road. The most important thing is, you get a contract like that because you've played well and you've proved that you can be that guy for the franchise, whereas I have to continue to prove that, each and every day. I have a lot of guys on this team that look to me to go out here and work hard.

"When I'm playing out there, there's no dollar sign on me when I'm throwing a ball. I've got to throw a ball because I've grown up with this game and grown up being a quarterback. So I have to do it to the best of my ability, and at the end of the day, we'll see what happens."

Foles spent several minutes chatting with team chairman Jeffrey Lurie following practice. Alas, Foles said they were talking about practice, not hashing out the parameters for the contract.

Ex-coaches honored

Former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson and ex-Birds offensive line coach Howard Mudd are among four recipients of the Pro Football Writers' Paul "Dr. Z" Zimmerman Award, for lifetime achievement as an assistant coach.

Also honored were Fritz Shurmur, best known as a former Green Bay defensive coordinator (and uncle of Pat Shurmur, the Eagles' offensive coordinator), and Ernie Zampese, an offensive innovator who most prominently oversaw the Chargers' passing game of the mid-'80s.

This is the first year for the award, named after the former Sports Illustrated pro football writer.


On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian

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