Former Eagles president Joe Banner is again doing a weekly Q&A this season with Inquirer pro football writer Paul Domowitch. This week, Banner and Domo discuss the Eagles reworking of Jason Peters' contract, GM Howie Roseman’s denial that he was trying to trade Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson’s apparent lack of remorse for his anti-Semitic Instagram posts this summer, the blockbuster deals signed by Texans QB Deshaun Watson and Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins, and Hopkins' decision to negotiate his own deal:
Domo: What’s your reaction to the Eagles redoing Jason Peters' one-year deal this week after he asked for more money to move back to left tackle?
Banner: Well, what they gave him kind of allowed everybody to save face. It was, OK, we’re asking him to move back to left tackle. We’ve got to give him something to do it. And that’s what they did. It’s a pretty modest increase. If Jason was OK with it, good for them that they were able to get it done.
Domo: Whoa. I’ve known you for a long time. A player refusing to switch positions without a pay bump is something you would have bristled at when you were negotiating contracts. Are you getting soft in your old age?
Banner: As far as him refusing to move unless they gave him more money, I have a mixed reaction. If I was running a team and had a player we had just signed refuse to change positions unless we gave him more money, I would not think that was the right thing to do.
On the other hand, that was a very, very small contract he had, even to play guard. And it kind of reflected the fact that, at the time he was signed, the Eagles had the leverage to get that deal. Once they had a couple of injuries on the line, it kind of shifted the leverage a little bit back toward Peters.
Bottom line, everybody got what they needed out of the deal. He got some more money and they got him playing left tackle.
Domo: The Eagles have about $16 million in cap space right now. We’ve talked previously about the cap challenges they’re going to be facing next year. Should they avoid spending any more money this year and just push that $16 million forward into next year to help them deal with the 2021 cap?
Banner: If I was putting myself in Howie’s shoes and had two offensive linemen already go down, the worst problem you can have is multiple injuries at the same position. It’s just impossible to create enough depth to protect yourself against that. And it’s pretty rare that there’s somebody else on the market that can fill the need at this date.
That being said, if they get to Week 6 or 7 or 8 and the season’s going very well and another lineman went down, I think they want to maintain whatever (cap) flexibility they may have left to maybe make a trade or find a way to acquire somebody.
Now, this is a scenario that only comes up if the team is playing really well and feels it has a reasonable chance to get to or even win another Super Bowl and thinks it makes sense to go all-in and try to pick up a lineman.
I wouldn’t spend any money right now that adversely affects my cap in 2021 except for that purpose if that circumstance came up.
Domo: How would a possible contract extension for Zach Ertz impact that?
Banner: Actually, they can do an Ertz deal that actually would probably lower the cap next year. We’d have to hear the conversations the two sides have been having. But at least on paper, it’s possible [to sign him to an extension and lower the 2021 cap in the process].
Domo: Howie said last week that the team is not “actively” shopping Alshon Jeffery and is looking forward to getting him back on the field. True or false?
Banner: You’re never going to say you were actively trying to trade somebody that you now know is going to be on your team. I’m not saying he’s making it up. I’m saying that’s the answer he has to give no matter what the truth is. Listen, when you say “actively trying to trade," you’re playing semantics. I mean, there were plenty of times we took calls from people who knew someone was available. So we never felt like we were lying if we said we weren’t actively trying to trade him, even if we were open to trading the player. So I suspect that’s what’s going on here.
Domo: DeSean Jackson spoke to reporters this week for the first time since posting anti-Semitic quotes attributed to Hitler and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan on Instagram in early July. He was asked what he learned from what he had done. My impression was he learned absolutely nothing other than to be a little bit more careful about what he puts on social media. Does his that’s-behind-me-now attitude surprise you? Disappoint you? Anger you?
Banner: We’ll never know the real answer of why he did it. We know how he felt. He gave us some insight into where those thoughts came from. And they didn’t seem like they were spur of the moment or accidental, but actually things he had strong opinions about. Hopefully going public exposed him to some different information.
The big issue for me, and it applies to DeSean, but I don’t want to restrict it to DeSean. I don’t care whether you’re someone who feels like your gender has hurt you, or your race or your religion. And by the way, I’m Jewish, and I include being Jewish on this list. It seems to be those are the people who should have empathy for the consequences of generalized and demonizing thoughts about a group.
So, when I see anybody – and again, I’m not isolating on DeSean, but my comments certainly include him – when I see anybody who’s been in a group that’s been victimized by these kinds of generalizations and demonizing of the group, it just always shocks me that their own experience didn’t make them incapable of doing that.
For me, I was offended by his remarks and spoke aggressively. But the bigger point to me is once you’ve been lumped together negatively as part of a group and people have used that against you, it should keep you from being able to think that way. Because you should realize how bad the consequences are, and, frankly, how unfair it is.
Domo: Another quarterback hit the jackpot last week when the Houston Texans gave Deshaun Watson a four-year, $156 million contract extension. Who signed the better deal – Watson or the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes (10 years, $450 million)?
Banner: I think Watson did a good deal. I thought he got what he deserved, plus a little bit more. And he’ll get another bite of the apple down the line. I was guessing that he’d get a $37-38 million average. He got $39 million. So that’s a good deal. The next deal that he signs will have to average in the mid-to-upper-50s to get to what Mahomes will average through the course of his deal.
Watson’s deal kind of reinforced my reconsideration of my initial opinion about Mahomes' deal. My first reaction to the Mahomes deal was that I would never do a deal that long. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the shorter the deal the better it is for the player.
But there are certain positions and certain players at certain ages where the odds of collecting 100% of the contract are really, really high. And one of those obviously is a relatively young quarterback. So, in my opinion, in those situations, the most important number is the average (of the deal), not the guarantee.
Some agents don’t seem to get that. They’re just fighting for the highest guarantee. And sometimes that is the right thing to be fighting for. But some people incorrectly think it’s always the right thing.
Domo: Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins signed a blockbuster two-year, $54.5 million extension this week that he essentially negotiated himself after dumping his agent, Todd France. Your thoughts on the extension, which was given to a player that still had three years left on his previous deal, and the whole idea of a player negotiating his own deal.
Banner: The contract is phenomenal. It’s one of the best contracts I’ve ever seen. He added two years, one of which can void. If it doesn’t void, you have a great average. If it does void, it’s just out of this world. If the deal voids, he’ll actually make more in the one-year extension than the Watson contract on average. So he did really well for himself.
As far as negotiating the deal himself, we’re seen this more and more with players. They do have advisers behind the scenes. But they’re not your classic agents and they’re not getting paid a percentage of the contract. This is an increasing trend. A few of the deals that have been done in this manner, including this one, actually have been very good. And a few haven’t been.
But I actually think we’re going to see more of this. And I think the advisers behind the scenes are going to become more relevant as we go forward here. It’s a reflection of the players understanding their power more and more.
Domo: Who are players using as advisers?
Banner: They’re former agents or front-office people or, in a few cases, they’re lawyers who do a lot of negotiating. This isn’t a case of, my uncle is doing my deal. There are a couple of those in the league. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.
In Hopkins' case, he probably took the lead on it and probably had most of the conversations with the team. But the adviser was likely kind of telling him what he should be looking for and maybe how to structure it, and he probably did the actual language of the deal.
Bottom line, (Hopkins) probably had a significant amount of help. But the player also has to be smart. If a player just hired an adviser and the player wasn’t somebody that was confident and smart and good at advocating for himself, it wouldn’t work.
This isn’t something that, in my opinion, is good for every player. You have to have the right mindset and a little bit of a business attitude. You can’t get intimidated. You have to have some confidence and courage. But it’s a growing trend.