Philadelphia Eagles

Dalton deal clears path for Nick Foles' big payday


Dalton deal clears path for Nick Foles' big payday

For the second time since the start of the new league season, an NFL quarterback inked a filthy-rich contract extension that can directly impact the value of the deal Nick Foles can sign next offseason.

And for the second time, Foles essentially yawned and shrugged.

The Bengals and fourth-year quarterback Andy Dalton reached an agreement Monday on a blockbuster six-year deal. Reports vary on the total money, but they indicate a total that can be in excess of $95 million.

In June, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick signed an extension that could be worth more than $125 million.

Foles, who will be eligible for an extension after this year, insisted Monday that he’s not focused on dollars down the road.

“Like we were talking about earlier, I'm really happy for Andy, I think he's a great quarterback and well-deserved,” Foles said. “But I don't worry about it. When I’m on the field, that doesn't matter. My job is to do what I can to help us be a successful football team, so at the end of the day we'll see what happens.”

Per rules of the CBA, drafted players can’t sign extensions until after the completion of their third season. Kaepernick and Dalton were each second-round picks from the 2011 draft.

Foles, a third-round pick in 2012, will make $635,000 this season in base salary and workout bonus. Next year, he’ll make $680,000 if he’s on the roster unless he and the team negotiate a long-term contract.

Kaepernick and Dalton each signed “pay as you go” deals, which are structured to dole out big money in the signing bonus and first year of the extension but give the team flexibility for the long term. They’re loaded with incentives that can reap even more money if the player performs at a high level and if the team makes deep postseason runs.

Dalton reportedly gets $17 million upon signing and $5 million more in March to go along with his $986,000 base salary in 2014. He has a $4 million roster bonus next year along with a $3 million base salary, both of which he’ll likely see even if he struggles this year. But the Bengals can move on from Dalton in 2016 without a crippling cap hit if Dalton fails to perform.

So that’s $29 million over the next two seasons for Dalton, who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie but hasn’t since. He’s had just one 4,000-yard passing season and hasn’t won a game in three trips to the playoffs. In his three postseason games, Dalton has completed 57 percent of his passes and compiled a 56.2 passer rating.

Dalton has a career 60.9 completion percentage and 85.7 passer rating, which are both worse than Foles’ career averages, albeit Dalton has 1,630 career pass attempts to Foles’ 582. Foles has completed 62.5 percent of his passes and has a career passer rating of 101.

If Foles comes close to duplicating his 2013 season and wins a playoff game or two this year, he can expect to cash in with a contract that blows Dalton’s away and mirrors the haul Kaepernick got from San Francisco.

But it couldn’t be further from his mind.

“It's a blessing to play this game. I'm never worried about that,” he said. “I always know that if you just take care of business and take care of business each and every other day the rest will take care of itself and you'll be taken care of. I'm really happy for Andy and I'm happy for Colin, those guys have done a great job. As a player, I just need to continue to excel on the field, and that's it."

Alshon Jeffery gives Eagles glimpse of new-look offense's potential in 1st full-squad practice

Alshon Jeffery gives Eagles glimpse of new-look offense's potential in 1st full-squad practice

Carson Wentz didn’t learn too much about Alshon Jeffery during the skill position players’ trip to Wentz’s home in Fargo, North Dakota that he didn’t already know. He’s “soft-spoken” but a “quiet competitor,” Wentz said.

“What I really like is just getting to know him on the field and getting used to the way he gets in and out of breaks and the way he can go up and get a ball,” Wentz said.

If Wentz didn’t learn that last part in Fargo, he sure did Thursday during the Eagles’ first full-team practice at the NovaCare Complex (see camp notes). Jeffery snagged a tough pass along the sideline that caught plenty of attention. It’s the reason the team signed the 27-year-old wideout to a one-year, $14 million contract on the first day of free agency. It’s what he must do to give the Eagles’ offense the explosion it lacked last year.

The buzz term of the day was “catch radius.” Jeffery stands at 6-3 and his wingspan surpasses 80 inches. He owns some mighty paws. Since 2013, his second season, his 14.9 yards per catch ranks third in the NFL, and only three players have more receptions of 25 yards or more. 

He’s a big target, and the Eagles brought him here to make big plays.

“I just tell [Wentz] throw it somewhere and give me a chance. If it's anywhere close, I think I have a good opportunity,” Jeffery said.

“Having a guy like that really makes you play a lot more comfortably,” Wentz said.

“You don’t have to necessarily be pinpoint accurate down the field when you have a guy that can leap and high-point balls, and Alshon can do that,” head coach Doug Pederson said.

Jeffery’s body gives the offense, and Wentz in particular, some wiggle room. He does not need the perfect pass to make a catch. 

That held true on one play during Thursday’s “10-10-10” practice. The purpose of these practices is to run 10 offensive plays against a soft defense and then 10 defensive plays against a soft offense. 

The full pads weren’t on yet, and even Jeffery said his highlight play could’ve been better. Still, it was a sight to behold as the massive wide receiver went up high to snatch the ball out of the air along the sideline.

However, the day wasn’t all flashy highlights. Jeffery dropped a pass in the flat, and he was one of the last guys to stay on the field for extra reps from the jugs machine. 

There is work to be done, and he knows that.

“Everybody’s got talent in the NFL, so we just gotta keep working,” Jeffery said. “We just let the numbers and the stats take care of themselves.”

Jeffery said his connection with Wentz is getting better every day, but he didn’t want to anoint the new-look offense as this Super Bowl-deprived city’s savior. Yes, there is more talent here, especially at his position, then there was this time last year. And the current roster is capable of doing “something special.” Just not after one full-team practice.

“The sky's the limit for us,” he said. “We just have to keep building.”

That doesn’t mean the team is without a win-now attitude, according to fellow receiver Jordan Matthews (more on him here), who said he’s already seen a lot of hunger out on the field. But with the addition of Jeffery — and Torrey Smith, another deep threat, for that matter — are there enough passes to satisfy everyone’s appetite? Matthews said that’s not the way to look at it.

“If you go out there and see Torrey make a play, you see Alshon make a play, you're like, 'Well shoot, I better go out there and do something,'” Matthews said. “But that's a good thing.”

Jeffery said that Matthews, the team’s longest-tenured player at the position, is still the leader of the unit. He is the vocal one on the field, telling guys what to expect from the system and what to do on certain routes. Plus, he’s even the most active in the group chats, Jeffery said.

That receiving corps’ group chat has quite the different look compared to last season, and Jeffery is the biggest newcomer. What they’ll have to discuss 16 regular-season games from now remains to be seen. For now, the talking must be done through their efforts on the field.

“[We are] working to try to be the best,” Jeffery said. “Whatever it takes for us to win a championship.”

5 Minutes with Roob: Steven Means, the swimmer?

5 Minutes with Roob: Steven Means, the swimmer?

In today's "Five Minutes with Roob," Reuben Frank chats with Eagles defensive end Steven Means:

Roob: OK now, most of your teammates played football, played basketball, maybe baseball in high school. Your bio says you were actually a swimmer back at Grover Cleveland High School in Buffalo.

Means: I really didn’t swim. I swam one meet and they gave me the trophy. It was pretty bad. Freestyle relay. By the time it was time for me to jump in, everybody else was already done. Pretty bad. I can’t even tread water.

Roob: OK, so much for swimming. Let's talk football. You grew up in Buffalo and then went to the University of Buffalo. What went into that decision to stay home to play college football?

Means: I wanted to leave and my mom wanted me to leave — my dad didn’t really care — but my SAT scores kind of held back a lot of colleges and then once I qualified, other colleges came, but Buffalo stuck with me, and that loyalty meant a lot to me.

Roob: You played at Buffalo with a pass rusher, Khalil Mack, who went on to become a top-five pick of the Raiders in 2013 and made first-team All-Pro in each of the last two years. Are you guys still close and what was it like playing with him?

Means: Yeah, we’re definitely still close. None of what he’s done really surprised me. It’s about time he finally is getting the recognition he deserves. We saw it all the time in practice. We went against each other in practice sometimes, joked around a lot, real cool guy, real down to earth.

Roob: And you guys play Oakland this year, so you’ll see him.

Means: Yeah, Christmas. I told him I was going to tell the coaches to put me at tight end for that game.

Roob: The Buccaneers drafted you back in 2013 in the fifth round. What was that experience like?

Means: It was a learning experience down there, period. It really left … a bad taste in my mouth. 

Roob: Then they released you after opening day in 2014.

Means: That was tough, especially with the circumstances, with what happened behind closed doors. But now I’m happy it happened.

Roob: Then you had stints with the Ravens and Texans before the Eagles claimed you late in the 2015 season, so you actually were here at the tail end of the Bill Davis era as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

Means: Playing linebacker kind of got me real comfortable in space, so any time we’ve got to drop as a defensive end, it’s second nature really. I practiced it in Tampa and then in Baltimore played a lot more and especially when I got here. 

Roob: Then Jim Schwartz comes in and installs his 4-3 front in 2016 and the Eagles keep you around. 

Means: Schwartz does a great job of keeping us real comfortable, keeping it real simple and keeping it fun. 

Roob: So you played a huge role in one of the Eagles’ biggest wins last year. The Vikings came in undefeated, but you guys beat them, and you had a sack on Sam Bradford for your first career sack and forced a fumble and you guys won, 21-10. You also had a blocked punt inside the Dallas 5-yard line in the win over the Cowboys on the last day of the season.

Means: Thank God for putting me in that position. Because clearly, normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have been in the game. Same way with the Cowboys. Just God blessing me with an opportunity and me making the most of it.

Roob: This is your fifth year in the NFL and your third season with the Eagles. What’s your mentality this summer as training camp gets underway here?

Means: Just get better every day. Every day take it one day at a time, don’t jump on anything too fast, don’t ever get complacent, just build on everything, try to perfect the little things, and everything will take care of itself.

Roob: It’s interesting that you’re still here when it was Chip Kelly that brought you in back in 2015. There aren’t a lot of guys left from that team.

Means: The camaraderie is real good. When coaching changes come, you really can’t get too hung up on that. Me, in the spiritual realm, I know that nobody has powers that God didn’t give them. If I’m supposed to be somewhere, I’m going to be there, no matter what.

Roob: Does that include the pool?

Means: That includes the pool, too, but I try to stay away from water.