Since being elevated into a more prominent role as the Eagles’ every-down linebacker, T.J. Edwards has delivered with physicality and intensity.
The Eagles rewarded him Monday morning with a one-year contract extension. Edwards’ contract is worth up to $3.2 million with $2.15 million guaranteed, a league source told The Inquirer.
Edwards was slated to be a restricted free agent in the offseason. But with Edwards now signed through 2022, the Eagles will avoid needing to tender him or match a competing offer from another team.
“We’re excited to have him locked up for next year,” first-year coach Nick Sirianni said of Edwards. “When you watch him get an attempt at a tackle, he’s always punching the football. He’s really physical to the football. The way he punches, the way he’s violent to the football – it’s really something that’s noticeable and it’s something the ball carriers feel and have to be able to protect against that.”
Edwards was elevated into a starter role nearly a month ago following the release of linebacker Eric Wilson, who signed a one-year deal as a free agent last offseason. Prior to Week 8, Edwards hadn’t played more than 66% of the defensive snaps in a single game. In the three weeks that followed Wilson’s release, Edwards has played in 95% of the defensive snaps. During that span, he has compiled 44 tackles.
Said Edwards: “We’re executing at a high level right now. Guys are understanding what we’re supposed to do in certain coverages. We’re flying around. ... [At the beginning of the season] I was just happy to have a role in base packages. I wanted to do my job the best I could because I knew if I did that, the defense would be better.”
With six games still left in the regular season, Edwards has already produced a career-high 76 tackles. After going undrafted out of Wisconsin in 2019, Edwards signed with the Eagles and he has progressed from special-teams ace to a starter.
During the team’s victory Sunday against the Saints, Edwards recorded an interception in the first quarter. He finished with 10 tackles and two passes defensed.
“He’s really playing well,” Sirianni said. “I think our defense as a whole is playing well. Starts up front. T.J. brings a physicality that really is contagious. And he continues to come after the ball.
“T.J. just has that physicality and he’s just really playing good football right now. He’s a good communicator with the defense and talking to everybody. Those guys from Wisconsin, that played as a Badger, my experience with those guys is they’re tough and they’re nasty and they can play physical ball.
“I’m sure glad he’s playing the role he’s playing right now.”
Since the beginning of the season, the Eagles have signed five players to contract extensions, including left tackle Jordan Mailata, defensive end Josh Sweat, tight end Dallas Goedert, cornerback Avonte Maddox and Edwards.
“Talent is always the first thing you think about,” Sirianni said. “When you pay those guys, it’s an example to the younger guys, ‘Hey, he got paid right there because he’s a good player and he works his butt off to become the best player he can possibly be. Those are common denominators. Those guys are all on the way up to being the best in the league at their positions.”
Linebacker Davion Taylor and running back Jordan Howard suffered knee sprains during Sunday’s game, according to Sirianni. Both players exited and didn’t return. Taylor is most likely headed to injured reserve, per Sirianni, while Howard is likely to miss the upcoming game versus the Giants.
Howard had 13 offensive snaps compared to Boston Scott’s 29 snaps and Miles Sanders’ 36. The trio of running backs, along with quarterback Jalen Hurts, pulverized the Saints for a season-best 242 rushing yards.
Linebacker Shaun Bradley also suffered a shoulder sprain, although he is expected to practice later this week.