Former UC center inks long-term deal with Eagles
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Keeping key parts of their offense together for a long time is clearly a priority for the Philadelphia Eagles.
The NFC East champions agreed to a five-year contract with wide receiver Riley Cooper and a seven-year deal with center Jason Kelce on Thursday. They gave All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters a new five-year deal a day earlier.
"It's a great reflection of ownership, a credit to Jeffrey Lurie for the flexibility to do what we need to be successful," general manager Howie Roseman said.
Cooper would've become a free agent next month after a breakout season in which he set career highs in receptions (47), yards receiving (835) and touchdowns (eight). His deal is worth $25 million over five years with about $10 million guaranteed, according to a person familiar with the contract who spoke on condition of anonymity because terms weren't announced.
"Riley is one of the toughest and hardest-working guys in our locker room," coach Chip Kelly said. "We talk a lot about how players have to make the most of their opportunities, and he did just that last year. He used his size, strength and speed to make a lot of big plays for our team and I'm excited to watch him build upon his success."
Cooper has come a long way since leaving the Eagles for three days during training camp after using a racial slur.
"I didn't test free agency because I wanted to be here," he said. "I wanted to be in Philly from the get-go."
Kelce was signed through 2016, and the new deal adds four years to his contract. Overall, it's worth $37.5 million with $13 million guaranteed, according to the person familiar with the deals.
"The numbers just sounded right," Kelce said.
Kelce was part of an offensive line that helped the Eagles lead the NFL in rushing while setting a franchise record for points (442).
"Jason is the epitome of the type of player we want around here, both on and off the field," Kelly said. "He's tough, extremely intelligent and is a leader by his actions and by his words. His athleticism is something that really sticks out when you watch him play. There aren't many centers that can get down the field like he does."
Roseman said the signings won't affect the team's draft plans. The Eagles shifted their focus from drafting for needs to drafting the best players available on the board a couple years ago. The results have been successful picks.
"A lot has changed since 2011, starting with team philosophy," Roseman said. "I'm proud of the process we've developed to set ourselves up to contend."
The Eagles were 10-6 and won the NFC East title in Kelly's first season as coach after going 4-12 in 2012.
Cooper blossomed in his first season as a starter after Jeremy Maclin went down for the season with a knee injury in camp. Maclin, a former first-round pick, is scheduled to be a free agent, but the Eagles are hoping to bring him back.
"He fits into our chemistry and what we're trying to do," Roseman said.