The good news is everybody seems confident it's going to happen, including Andy Reid -- and he would know. The bad news is it's going to be expensive.
The Eagles and LeSean McCoy are talking contract extension, actually have been for awhile, and a holdout sounds unlikely for now. The front office has been on a mission to get their own players under contract all offseason long, and Shady is a star in every sense of the word, so there appear to be few hangups. The only question left to answer here is, "How much?" We crunch the numbers after the jump.
I took the liberty of updating a list of the highest paid running backs in the NFL courtesy RotoWorld, which seems like a reasonable starting point.
1. Adrian Peterson -- 7 years, 96 million. 36 million guaranteed (13.7apy).
2. Darren McFadden -- 6 years, 60 million. 26 million guaranteed (10apy).
3. Chris Johnson -- 6 years, 55 million. 30 million guaranteed (9.17apy).
4. Arian Foster -- 5 years, 43.5 million. 20.75 million guaranteed (8.7apy).
5. DeAngelo Williams -- 5 years, 43 million. 21 million guaranteed (8.6apy).
6. Marshawn Lynch -- 4 years, 31 million. 18 million guaranteed (7.77apy),
*7. Matt Forte -- 1 year, 7.7 million. 7.7 million guaranteed (7.7apy).
Ray Rice -- 1 year, 7.7 million. 7.7 million guaranteed (7.7apy).
9. Steven Jackson -- 6 years, 44.8 million. 20.5 million guaranteed (7.47apy).
10. Frank Gore -- 4 years, 25.9 million. 13.5 million guaranteed (6.48apy).
* Neither Forte or Rice are presently under contract. Their numbers reflect the franchise tag tender. Judging from the current climate, both figure to remain on this list whenever they sign.
We'll go ahead and state the obvious: McCoy won't see AP numbers. That contract, outlandish as it is, reflects Peterson's status as a seventh overall pick in the '07 Draft, a freak athlete, and simply the best back in football over the past five years. In today's NFL, it's hard to imagine the next time a runner will ever earn more.
Unlike Peterson, McFadden's contract is only as enormous as it is as a result of where he was drafted, fourth overall in '08 -- before a rookie wage scale was in place. He has been neither healthy nor consistent, and though he has all the talent in the world, our sense is he would not command $10 million per on the open market if he were available today.
Somewhere between third and fifth on this list is where we might begin to see signs of the sweet spot, in particular with CJ2K and Foster. Besides AP, they are two of the highest paid and most recently re-signed backs on the list. Not coincidentally, they each led the league in rushing and yards from scrimmage for one season, in consecutive years in fact -- '09 and '10.
Does McCoy belong in their company? Johnson's '09 campaign was one for the books, becoming just the sixth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in one season. That potential was the basis for the offer he eventually received, and as good as McCoy is, he hasn't accomplished anything quite like that.
Arian Foster draws a better comparison to Shady of the two. The Texans just extended their All-Pro back in March, so there's no need to account for inflation. It's all about whether McCoy is on the same level.
McCoy vs. Foster
Statistically speaking, Foster appears to hold the upper hand. Over the past two seasons, he's racked up 4,061 yards from scrimmage and 30 touchdowns to McCoy's 3,296 and 29. Foster has also been a far more dangerous receiving threat, averaging 10.3 yards per catch to 7.2. However, Foster accumulated his totals yardage via many more touches -- 724 to 606.
It's not all about the numbers, either. As Blogging the bEast brought attention to on Tuesday, McCoy may have been more valuable to his team than any other back in the league in 2011, playing significantly more snaps than any other. Only Ray Rice was within 100 snaps, and Foster wasn't even within 200. Whether McCoy can sustain that type of workload or not is a question for another day. While the numbers suggest Foster is better, based on his role in the offense alone, McCoy has a strong case for being paid equally.
Further complicating the matter is DeAngelo Williams, who somehow convinced the Panthers to pay him $43 million over five years last -- practically the exact same as Foster. Surely McCoy deserves to be paid as well as the 29-year-old Williams, whose only season in the top 10 of yards from scrimmage and rushing touchdowns came in 2008, no?
Shady holds one final advantage over Foster, that being he is two years younger. Maybe he can get an extra year based on that, though if he finished out the contract, that would take him right up to 30, which is a bad time to for a runner to negotiate a new contract. Any way you slice it though, it looks like McCoy could be heading for somewhere just south of $9 million over no fewer than five years with a guarantee close to or in excess of $20 million until negotiations are final.