Jake Elliott’s approach is to keep everything in front of him, to focus in the moment. He’s an ice-in-the-veins kind of guy and it has served him well in his three seasons as an Eagle. Served him well enough that Elliott and the Eagles on Wednesday agreed to a new contract that keeps him in Philadelphia through the 2024 season.
Elliott is having a fantastic season, having made all 14 of his field goal attempts (knocking wood profusely) to become the first player in team history to begin a season with 14 consecutive made field goal attempts. Elliott has made 18 straight field goals dating back to last season, tying Caleb Sturgis for second in team history for most consecutive successful field goals attempts (behind only Alex Henery’s 22 in 2012). Elliott has also made 21 of 23 point-after kicks this season.
“It's awesome, man. This is the place where I've grown the last couple of years and luckily I'm a part of it and I look forward to being a part of it for a really long time," Elliott said. "It's a great feeling.”
Elliott is the third player signed to a long-term contract extension in the last few weeks, joining Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks and long snapper Rick Lovato. The Eagles are taking advantage of some salary cap space and setting up the roster for years to come with some key deals.
With Elliott, they lock up a young placekicker who has been the model of consistency and clutch kicking in his three seasons. Elliott has made 86.8 percent of his field goals (66-of-76) and 93 of his 100 PATs. Elliott is 22-of-24 on field goal attempts between 40 and 49 yards and he’s 8-of-12 on kicks of 50-plus yards.
"At that position in this league, where points are at a premium, it's a great feeling to know that when you cross the (opponent's) 35-yard line you are in Jake's range and he's going to be accurate and put points on the board," head coach Doug Pederson said after practice on Wednesday. "We're blessed and fortunate to have Jake.
"He's a guy who reminds me of Ryan Longwell, who I played with for eight years in Green Bay. He's an outgoing guy, a tremendous athlete, and a little bit of a jokester. When it's time for business, though, he's all about it. He's on point. Jake never really wavers. It doesn't matter what the situation might be. It doesn't matter what the weather is like. He's a pro. We ask him to make some kicks and he comes through."
Elliott’s rise has been consistent with his kicking career. He was a heralded NFL prospect coming out of Memphis, where Elliott was a four-time semifinalist (and once, in 2015, a finalist) for the Lou Groza Award, presented to the best placekicker in the collegiate game. Elliott scored a school-record 445 points, including a 56-yard field goal. There was no doubt Elliott was going to get his shot in the NFL and, true enough, the Cincinnati Bengals selected Elliott in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. That’s where things got a little crazy.
Elliott didn’t make the Bengals’ 53-man roster and was placed on their practice squad. The Eagles went into the 2017 season with Sturgis as the placekicker and felt great about him, but Sturgis was injured in the season-opening game at Washington and the Eagles suddenly had a huge need.
They held tryouts at the NovaCare Complex a couple of days after the Washington game with a three-man field of experienced kickers, and they considered signing one of those veterans. But the Eagles wanted to develop a young kicker and they had high grades on Elliott, so instead of signing a veteran, they signed the rookie from Cincinnati's practice squad and turned the job over to Elliott.
After a bit of a rocky start as an Eagle – Elliott missed a 30-yard field goal in Kansas City and then was wide left on a 52-yard field goal in a Week 3 game against the Giants – the rookie lined up for a 61-yard field goal attempt in that game against New York and made history.
And maybe his NFL career.
Elliott nailed the kick, the longest in franchise history, to beat the Giants, was carried off the field, and ignited a nine-game winning streak that helped the Eagles clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC postseason. All Elliott did in those playoff games was make all seven of his field goal kicks, including a 46-yarder late in the 41-33 win over New England in the Super Bowl, and seven of his nine PATs.
In five playoff games, Elliott is perfect on his eight field goal attempts and is 10-of-12 on PAT kicks.
"I owe a lot of my success to, obviously, Dave Fipp (special teams coordinator), and Rick and Cam (Johnston, punter) have done a great job," Elliott said. "I came in here with Donnie (Jones, former punter and holder on kicks) and he really took me under his wing. A lot of it is confidence and I've built a lot of confidence here. I'm hitting the ball well and will continue to do so."