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Grotz: Hurts’ pending contract could hinder Eagles’ ability to maintain superior status

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts is now eligible to sign a contract extension just like the rest of the NFL draft class of 2020, the bargaining almost certain to begin with the deal signed last July by fellow quarterback Kyler Murray.

Murray inked a five-year, $230 million deal with $160 million guaranteed with the Arizona Cardinals which included a controversial clause – later rescinded – specifying four hours of independent study.

The Eagles obviously won’t be concerned with that ridiculous independent study protection yet could add workout and other incentives to sweeten the pot. They hold an option year on Hurts in 2023 worth $1.3 million.

The Murray deal also is close to the $44.2 million market value for Hurts, according to Spotrac.com, which statistically analyzes contract information. Spotrac projects the value of Hurts’ next contract at six-years and $265 million.

If that sounds like a leap of faith, that’s because it is, depending on the structure of the contract. The Eagles ate a then-NFL record $33.5 million in dead money when they got rid of megabucks quarterback Carson Wentz before the 2021 season. That left them hamstrung in terms of attracting free agents, although they re-signed a small army of their ascending players including tight end Dallas Goedert, defensive end Josh Sweat and offensive tackle Jordan Mailata.

Extending Hurts almost certainly is going to make it difficult to retain veteran unrestricted free agents like safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, cornerback James Bradberry, defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, linebacker T.J. Edwards and maybe even safety Marcus Epps.

Center Jason Kelce, defensive ends Brandon Graham and Robert Quinn and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox are set to become unrestricted free agents.

It’s unlikely they’ll take hometown discounts.

The Eagles certainly can address the back end of the defense in the draft as they have the 10th overall pick (from New Orleans) and their own selection depending on their finish in the playoffs. Kelee Ringo, Christian Gonzalez and Joey Porter Jr. are can’t-miss cornerbacks. They could shop that 10th pick to a team looking for a quarterback, but that’s another story for another day.

Hurts might want to wait for the market to reset before agreeing to a new pact. Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert also are eligible for extensions, and likely will raise the bar for quarterbacks.

Then again, Lamar Jackson, who was unable to find the right deal with the Ravens, hasn’t helped himself playing out his contract this year due to injury. He’s nursing a knee injury that will sideline him in the playoffs.

Hurts is going to get big bucks. He must decide whether he wants instant security or to gamble on himself and play out his fourth-year option.

What Hurts does in the playoffs is key, as well. Though he’s won 18 of his last 20 starts, he was beaten by the Buccaneers in his only playoff game last January. And that was with a sprained ankle. Nursing a sprained SC joint in his throwing shoulder now, Hurts is ready to attack a second straight postseason at less than 100 percent.

An NFL source said Hurts’ injury doesn’t impact his throwing motion as much as his mobility, the latter of which has been key in stretching out defenses by making them assign a spy to him. He has been lethal in short yardage and in the red zone, rushing for 13 scores this season compared to 22 touchdown passes.

Hurts looked rusty but fully capable of throwing the ball in his last start, the Eagles registering a 22-16 triumph over the Giants. It would have been 29-16 if the Eagles weren’t incorrectly flagged for having an ineligible man downfield on a play that began at the 2-yard line of the Giants, the touchdown waved off just prior to Hurts’ next pass getting intercepted.

Hurts had two weeks of rest and rehab to get ready for that game, after which he complained of being in pain.

When the Eagles open their playoff next weekend Hurts will have had two more weeks of treatment and rest to get the shoulder ready. Should the Eagles prevail that same timetable won’t hold for the following game as there is just one week before the conference final.

By the way, it’s the same deal with right offensive tackle Lane Johnson, who will have just a few days to come back from a sports hernia injury that will require surgery once his season is over.

Though the Eagles have little choice but to extend Hurts, there is no cookbook way of doing it without limiting the long-term damage it could cause in terms of shaping the overall roster. A five or six-year deal with reasonable limits on guaranteed money might be the answer. Or a three-year contract with a generous amount of guaranteed money might work for both sides.

It remains to be seen.

Contact Bob Grotz at rgrotz@delcotimes.com

 

To contact Bob Grotz, email rgrotz@delcotimes.com or follow him @BobGrotz on Twitter.


Source: Berkshire mont

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