mcarlt Posted November 19, 2006 Share Posted November 19, 2006 I've been struck with a case of bird envy, and it's not Toucan Sam-related like last time. I want to say I'll get through this, but I just don't know. You see, the Philadelphia Eagles are everything my Washington Redskins aren't. The Eagles rarely overpay their players, they rely heavily on the draft, they don't cave in to outlandish demands by egotistical players and they sign 24-year-olds, not 34-year-olds, to long-term deals. Throw in the fact they've had the same managerial structure for the past half-dozen or so years and one of the game's longest-tenured coaches, and it has me wondering: What's not to like about the green and white? (Cough, their fans). Will Jason Campbell add to 'Skins fans' misery this season or prove to be a bright spot? (Getty Images) Now, the Redskins, meanwhile, do just about everything wrong. They don't draft (New York in April is sooo touristy), they overpay just about everyone and have only one consistency in the managerial structure: inconsistency. That's why I have Eagles envy. And something of late has that deadly sin kicking into high gear. It's the Eagles' propensity to dish out long-term deals to young, rising stars. In case you missed it, last week Philadelphia locked up wide receiver Reggie Brown to a five-year deal. I won't bore you with the details, but it's a reasonable number of greenbacks that will keep the 25-year-old in green through 2014. That's so un-Redskins, it's fantastic. Washington's sort-of-GM Vinny Cerrato wouldn't even know how to draft such a contract. He'd mistakenly slip in two no-trade clauses, several FedEx Field handicap parking stickers and Joe Gibbs' youngest son. But Brown's deal is just the tip of the iceberg. Earlier this year defensive tackle Mike Patterson received a seven-year extension and defensive end Trent Cole inked a five-year contract. Two more reasonable deals for a pair of solid down linemen. To quote Monty Burns, "That's capital!" But wait, there's more. Earlier, earlier this year, punter Dirk Johnson signed a six-year contract extension. But wait, there's even more. Earlier, earlier, earlier this year, guard Shawn Andrews signed a contract extension through 2015 and center Jamaal Jackson got locked up through 2013. Add running back Brian Westbrook's five-year deal in '05 and cornerbacks Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown, who signed five- and six-year deals in '04 and, it's safe to say there's a bit of a trend here. The Eagles' recipe is simple: Draft a lot of players -- 29 over the past three years -- and odds are, a few pan out. Notice the ones quickly reaching their potential and justly reward them. It's such an organic philosophy I'm surprised Whole Foods isn't catering the team's lunches gratis. But why would these players do it? If they just wait a couple more years, odds are teams like the Redskins will offer them riches beyond anything the Genie in Aladdin could. Patterson's agent, Josh Luchs, sums it up nicely: "This is about what's best for Mike Patterson," Luchs told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Mike understands that he'll be making a little bit less than if he'd played his (original) deal out, stayed healthy and become a free agent. But to remove the injury risk is a big thing." But it's not just about injuries, it's about players seeing a good thing and wanting to stay with it: "I'm not good at predicting the future, but (based) on the things (the Eagles) have done in the past I feel comfortable in how they are going to do things in the future," Patterson told the Inquirer. So few times in sports do contracts actually benefit the player and the team. But the Eagles are starting to figure it out. The team keeps a young, rising player at a reasonable rate (signing bonuses spread over long contracts are team-friendly) and because of the bonus, the player is assured of spending his 20s as a millionaire, regardless of whether he tears an ACL. How can anybody associated with sports not like this set-up? Sure, it's not all peaches and cream and there's certainly room for criticism. Donovan McNabb's astronomical 12-year, $115 million deal may never see its completion, but geez, those are some big numbers for a quarterback who can't keep his lunch down in the biggest game of his life. And contracts are a tricky subject. There's no question players perform just a bit differently in contract years than they do after they've signed the big one -- so locking up so many players to so many long-term deals is risky. Let's say the Eagles win Super Bowl XLI this season. With nearly 20 percent of the team locked into these long deals, Eagles brass would be playing with fire. Without the incentive to play for a big, fat contract and with the Super Bowl drive extinguished, there's likely going to be a little complacency in the clubhouse. Of course, that's a problem any Eagles fan would love to have. But still, some would say it's a bit alarming; signing so many players with so little track record to so many long-term deals. But really, how much more does a coach and GM need to see to make a proper evaluation? They've got tape on these kids going back to their high school days, medical charts that could fill the Library of Congress and after the Terrell Owens fiasco, they're not going to commit to players with questionable character. So, there are reasons to give a John Belushi eyebrow raise to the Eagles' unorthodox managerial approach, but I have a feeling it's going to work. They picked their spots wisely. A couple of young cornerbacks here, a couple of linemen there and one or two skill players thrown in for flavor. What they're doing is putting together a core group of players who drink the Philly juice and, in doing so, make sure the franchise has a foundation in place. And with that settled, they can start adding some intriguing pieces here and there to provide differing dynamics. On the other hand, my Redskins have only a handful of homegrown, young, core players -- Sean Taylor, Chris Cooley, maybe Jason Campbell -- and because of it, are constantly forced to sign the big-name flavor of the offseason. It's not just frustrating to follow a team without a foundation, it makes purchasing a jersey a real pain in the gluteus maximus. I'm still stuck wearing my LB No. 57 jersey. It's not cheap having to replace those things. So, with every logical long-term deal a young Eagle signs, it makes me wonder how it's my team, and not the one named after a bird, making its home in the cuckoo's nest. Oh, it's not just wondering, there's lots of rage involved, too. Lots of rage Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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