What is clear with the Philadelphia Eagles is that, as much as the team is focused on winning in Miami on Sunday and pulling into a first-place tie in the NFC East, the vision extends far beyond the 2019 campaign. By locking up star right offensive tackle Lane Johnson to a new contract through the 2025 season, as the Eagles did on Friday afternoon, the Eagles keep another core member of the roster in place for many years to come.
Johnson is the fourth Eagles player to sign a contract extension in the last few weeks, joining long snapper Rick Lovato and placekicker Jake Elliott to keep the special teams operation in place, along with Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks. With Brooks and Johnson locked and loaded through 2024, the Eagles have solidified the right side of the offensive line in a very impressive way.
"It's smart," Johnson said after signing his deal late on Friday afternoon at the NovaCare Complex. "They know what they're doing. Ultimately, they want to build a good football team for a long time and core players is where it starts. I'm excited to be with Brandon, Jake, and Rick, and there will probably be a few others coming up, too. It's a blessing being around a lot of great people every day. It's a lot of fun."
"I think it's something that you want (to do) the best you can," head coach Doug Pederson said. "We know this business is tough and guys sometimes try to move on and find other spots. To be able to take our own guys and extend them and have that consistency for the next four or five years … it just helps your team."
This is Johnson's third contract with the Eagles after the team selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. As he overcame some early-career stumbles – Johnson was suspended for four games in 2014 and 10 games in 2016 for violating the league's substance abuse policy – the 6-foot-6, 317-pounder also showed that his rare blend of athleticism and power made him a difference-making player at the offensive tackle position. Johnson, who in 2016 signed a contract extension through the 2021 season, has twice been voted to the Pro Bowl team and in 2017 he was named a first-team All-Pro offensive lineman.
"There just aren't any better than Lane," offensive line coach/run game coordinator Jeff Stoutland said. "He works hard at being the best in the business. He takes pride in his profession. It means something to him. He's got a skill set that he's developed over the years and nothing is good enough for him. Lane wants to be perfect."
He's close, and the tandem of Brooks at right guard and Johnson at right tackle is the best in the NFL and a key for the Eagles' offense. They're both back for Sunday's game in Sunday and the Eagles are glad for it. Losing Johnson with a concussion early in the New England game bogged down the offense and having Brooks leave last week's game against Seattle was costly to an offense that couldn't find its rhythm.
"It works because we're very similar," Brooks said on Friday. "Goofy guys who are super competitive and who consistently want to be known as the best. We feed off of each other and we push each other every day. We hang out outside of this locker room, you name it.
"Lane has been a heckuva player since he got here. Super athletic. Smart. It feels great to have my partner in crime over there with me for a long time. Hopefully we'll be doing 'B' blocks (combo blocks) and rolling guys off the ball for a long time."
Said Johnson: "I think we're playing great football together. We talk about it and we want to keep 'wowing' people and putting good things on tape. It's about how you want to be remembered. I'm playing next to a really good guard and that makes it easier for me. Ultimately, he's one of my best friends, too. I'm looking forward to a lot of good years ahead with him and the rest of the offensive line. Coach Stoutland, a lot of this goes to him. From where I've come since arriving here, a lot of the credit goes to him."
Even after an extremely aggressive offseason of adding to the roster, the Eagles still have some room within the salary cap and they're taking advantage of it. As the Eagles look to win in Miami to gain a tie for the top spot in the NFC East with Dallas even with all of the injuries they've had this season, they have a roster with a lot of talent from top to bottom. Keeping the core intact has always been a priority, and by locking up Brooks and Johnson along the offensive line and Elliott and Lovato in the kicking game, the Eagles are doing just that.