Philadelphia Eagles News

First Step: Locking Up Herremans

On Tuesday, Todd Herremans walked around the NovaCare Complex beaming. The team had just announced a contract extension for Herremans through the 2016 season that included, reportedly, $11 million guaranteed. It was known around the offices that the deal was imminent and when it was done, finally done, well, how could anyone not feel good about Herremans?

He deserves every bit of it. Drafted in the fourth round in 2005 out of tiny Saginaw Valley State, Herremans immediately impressed with his athletic ability in that training camp. I remember it well. He handled all comers up at Lehigh and then played well in the preseason before taking his place as a reserve for most of his rookie season. But Herremans was forced into action at left tackle for four games later that year until a broken ankle ended his season.

The Eagles wanted Herremans on the field, and they had Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan at the tackle spots, all-time bookends to be sure. So they moved Herremans inside to left guard and a career was made.

He's been a really good guard for most of his career, earned a second contract -- in 2006 through 2013 -- and seemed like a natural fit for the rest of his career inside along the Eagles' offensive line.

But you know how things change. And when Howard Mudd came along last season as the team's line coach, the venerable coach insisted that there were no positions set in stone and that the five best linemen would play.

Herremans would play. But where? The first preseason games featured Herremans at left guard, but then Mudd shook it all up and moved Herremans to right tackle before the fourth preseason game -- one in which Herremans did not play -- and all of a sudden Herremans was the starting right tackle against St. Louis defensive end Chris Long in the regular-season opener and, oh boy, how would he handle that?

Turns out, Herremans was a terrific right tackle. Is a terrific right tackle. He even lined up at left tackle when Jason Peters was injured when the Eagles beat Washington midway through the season.

Herremans is one of those guys who just goes out and plays the game the way it should be played. No thrills. Nothing fancy. The guy has three career receptions lining up as a tackle-eligible player and has two touchdowns and is, honestly, not quite sure what to do after he scores a touchdown. Who cares?

The Eagles took care of Herremans because he has played outstanding football and is still on the upswing. He's an Eagle and in this day and age of players coming and going it's nice to know that Herremans has an excellent chance of starting and ending his career here.

Signing Herremans is part of the offseason strategy here, one that I hope is no surprise to you. It's been the message here for many weeks: The Eagles are going to take care of their own first, dabble in free agency and then look for a strong draft. They like the roster. They know they need to add pieces.

Herremans is step one as free agency begins and the rumor mill churns. There are going to be others who sign deals -- my nominations are defensive end Trent Cole and running back LeSean McCoy -- to remain Eagles, and I think that is the way to go. There is no need to rip this roster apart. Add good pieces and hope everyone builds and works in the same direction.

For Herremans and the Eagles, Tuesday was a good day and a fine start to the critical couple of months of improving the roster.

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