All offseason, the Eagles have made it clear that their primary focus was to cultivate their core by committing long-term to some of their most important players. First, it was extensions for Todd Herremans and Trent Cole. Then, the team signed their franchise player DeSean Jackson to a long-term extension prior to free agency. Next it was the re-signing of Evan Mathis. But there was always still one looming long-term commitment for the Eagles in the form of their youngest star, 23-year-old All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy.
Thursday evening, the final domino in the team's offseason stack of plans fell when McCoy signed a five-year extension that will keep him in Philadelphia through 2017.
"I think it starts when we sat down and made our offseason plan," said general manager Howie Roseman. "We decided to focus on re-signing our own players and keeping a bulk of the team intact for now and going into the future. Obviously, LeSean was a big part of that. We felt like it was really important to get that done and try to get that done quickly, so we were going to be aggressive about it. He's a part of the family and his style and his play are so important to the organization and this team. I know I speak for a lot of us when I say that we're excited that he's going to be here for a long time."
Consider the state of the Eagles roster. Of the 10 projected starters on offense, omitting fullback (Michael Vick, McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, Jackson, Brent Celek, Demetress Bell, Mathis, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins and Todd Herremans), seven are signed through at least 2016 with Maclin's contract expiring the soonest, not until after the 2013 season. Defensive standouts like Cole, Jason Babin, Mike Patterson, Cullen Jenkins and DeMeco Ryans are all signed through at least the 2014 season, with only Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's deal set to expire after the 2012 season. And of course, all of that doesn't take into account a promising group of rookies and second-year players who will all be in the fold for the foreseeable future as well.
All of that is to say that as the Eagles prepare for the 2012 season, they can also rest assured that the state of the roster is strong, and should be for a long time.
"I think that is one of the struggles with this job is you're trying to keep an eye on the future and trying to put the best team together now as well," said Roseman. "We're fortunate enough that we have players that we want to keep here for a very long time. I think that's what we have tried to do here is mix some of the veterans that we got last offseason when we thought we had an opportunity to add some new players, but also want to take care of the players we have had here who are here for the long term and do the right thing. Hopefully, that's what we did here."
"We're very excited to continue to build from within this football team and to keep our great players here and part of this organization and city," said head coach Andy Reid. "We have good, young players here who enjoy playing for the city of Philadelphia. If you're going to be accepted into this city, there's a certain attitude that you need to bring. We felt like we had a great nucleus of guys, LeSean being one of that group. He does it all, so this isn't a one-dimensional running back. This is a running back that can not only carry the football for you but can catch the football as well as the wide receivers and he can block and loves playing the game. That brings great energy to this football team."
McCoy's youthful energy will be a staple of the NovaCare Complex for a long time to come. Not only will he be an Eagle through at least the 2017 season, but at only 23 years old, he still has a lot of room to grow.
"It's exciting because we are trying to build for the long term," said Roseman when asked about McCoy's youth. "We're trying to bring a championship to the city of Philadelphia and we're going to do whatever we can to do that, but on the same token, we're going to try and keep building it and sustain some success. Keeping him here is a big piece of that."
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