Through seven seasons, Todd Herremans has never complained about his contract or his place on the team. The offensive lineman drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft our of Saginaw Valley State has always gone about his business as a professional and as an exemplary teammate. A tackle in college, Herremans gladly moved to guard early in his career and was always willing to play tackle, his preferred position, when an opening occured.
Last summer, after three preseason games at guard, Herremans was shifted permanently to right tackle to allow for Evan Mathis to step into the lineup at left guard. Because he did not play in the preseason finale, Herremans entered Week 1 without having played in a regular season game at tackle in years, and yet he performed superbly all season long, starting 16 games at tackle (including one game at left tackle) and thriving under new offensive line coach Howard Mudd.
Tuesday, Herremans was rewarded for his yeoman's work with a three-year extension that will keep him under contract as an Eagle through 2016.
"I had two years left on my deal so I realize this wasn't a necessity," Herremans said in the opening remarks of his press conference. "It means a lot for the fact that they came to me and started this whole process. I am really happy with it.
"Being able to spend your whole career in one city, it's pretty special and you don't see that anymore."
Herremans, 29, has started 92 games in his career with the Eagles, trailing only Mike Patterson and Trent Cole among players currently on the roster. Through that time, Herremans was twice recognized (2008, 2011) as a member of USA Today's All-Joe team, which honors players whose contributions often go unnoticed. It's safe to say that the Eagles have noticed.
"This is why I'm so happy about the Eagles wanting to do this with me," Herremans said. "I can't thank them enough. I keep looking on ESPN every day and I keep seeing veteran tackles around the league getting cut from trying to make cap space. There are good players being released, and with the free agent market being so flooded, I just feel really excited that the Eagles are willing to make this move with me."
Herremans also acknowledged that his role as one of the team leaders played into the extension for both sides.
"That was brought up in the talks, and I think that boded well for me. The players seem to like me in the locker room, and I don't get too many dirty looks when I walk around," he said. "I think that what they're trying to do – the Eagles have been known for a while as a team that doesn't take care of their draft picks and pays everyone else's as picks and players. I think they're trying to change that stigma that they have. Howie's very concentrated on taking care of their own and wanting players to be Eagles their entire career."
During his press conference, Herremans also focused on the importance of continuity. Last offseason, the Eagles made a slew of transactions to improve the team, but the pieces didn't quite fit together until it was a bit too late. Consider that the five players who became the starters along the offensive line were 5-1 when blocking for Michael Vick.
"I don't think that the team that we fielded last year was missing anything talent-wise," said Herremans. "I don't think our coaching staff was missing anything and I don't think the players on the field were missing anything. I just think it's like the first day of school when you don't know anybody in the class and you just have to figure out who you're going to sit by, who will let you cheat off of them and that kind of stuff. As the season went on, we started coming together a lot more and it showed by us winning our (last four) games. We really feel that we don't need any extra pieces brought to us in free agency. We feel that the team we have in the locker room can make a great run and go the Super Bowl next year. I'm sure that's not how it's going to work and there will be tweaks here and there."
One of those offseason upgrades may come courtesy of Herremans himself. Because 2011 was his first full season playing tackle in the NFL, the Eagles right tackle expects that he still has a lot of room to improve.
"I think that I have a lot of upside at tackle still," he said. "I still feel that as the season went on, there are plenty of things that I had to work on. Playing the position, you learn certain things and you're able to work on them. In season, it's tough to work on those things because you have two practices and then you're playing a game again. As far as just being able to know the whole offseason where I'm playing, and the types of techniques that (offensive line coach) Howard (Mudd) has us using and the style of play he expects out of us, it made the transition from guard to tackle a lot easier."