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Fletcher Cox agrees to six-year, $103 million contract extension with Eagles

The Eagles guaranteed Fletcher Cox more money than any non-quarterback in the NFL on Monday in a landmark deal that ensures Cox remains in Philadelphia well beyond this season.

Cox, 25, agreed to a six-year contract extension worth $103 million, with $63 million guaranteed, according to a league source. The defensive tackle will be signed through the 2022 season and become one of the highest-paid players in the NFL.

Cox is expected to meet with reporters to discuss the deal later this week. He wrote "Thankful", "WHAT A TIME", and "I would like to thank Mr. Lurie and the whole Eagles organization" on his Twitter page Monday night.

After missing most of the offseason program, Cox reported to mandatory minicamp last week. He kept discussion about his contract private, although the team had been outspoken about its desire to reach a long-term deal with Cox.

They knew it would not come at a discounted price, either. Howie Roseman said during Cox's absence in April that the Eagles were not trying to gain leverage, understanding the type of deal required and the necessity to keep Cox.

Entering his fifth season, Cox is perhaps the Eagles' best player — and could still be ascending. He reached the Pro Bowl for the first time last season when he finished with a career-high 9 1/2 sacks. That came as a defensive end in a 3-4 defense. Cox's statistics could spike this season when he moves to defensive tackle in defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's attacking, 4-3 scheme, which Cox said last week he was "made to" play in. It was the system Cox was drafted for in 2012 when the Eagles selected him in the first round out of Mississippi State.

"That's why they brought me here," Cox said. "That's what I played in college, that's what I played in my first year in the league. I'm really excited to really see what it brings to the table and what we can do as a team."

For the Eagles, it's a significant investment in a player who is not a quarterback. Cox's guaranteed money eclipses that of Buffalo's Marcell Dareus and Miami's Ndamukong Suh, which were the two most lucrative deals at the position. The overall contract value trails only Suh among non-quarterbacks, and the average salary of $17.167 million is also only behind Suh.

But that's how highly the Eagles think of Cox. Roseman said in February that the Eagles would "love for him not only to start his career but finish his career as an Eagle" and that Cox was "always a priority" even when the team signed other players.

Cox will have familiar company during the next few years in Philadelphia. The Eagles have made an effort to lock up their foundation players. Tight end Zach Ertz and defensive end Lane Johnson signed deals this offseason through 2021. Defensive end Vinny Curry, offensive lineman Brandon Brooks, and safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod signed this offseason through 2020. Center Jason Kelce also has a deal through 2020, and Carson Wentz's fifth-year option puts him under team control through that season. Together they account for $422 million in total contract values.

Roseman has said that the team's preference is to commit resources into homegrown players who were drafted and developed in Philadelphia. It takes some of the risk out of the deals because the team knows the players.

That's why the Eagles can be confident in Cox, a soft-spoken, self-described "country boy" from Yazoo City, Miss. The small city had just more than 11,000 people when Cox moved away in 2012, and a guidance counselor at his high school said then that only 60 percent of the high school students attended college, and only 30 percent graduated.

"A lot of these kids don't have a ticket out of here," Christy Cader, the counselor, said in 2012. "We all saw [football] as [Cox's] ticket out of here."

That ticket has turned Cox into one of the highest-paid players in the NFL — and puts him in position to become one of the storied players in the history of the Eagles franchise.

"He's a perfect example that you don't have to settle for less," Malissa Cox, the player's mother, said in 2012. "All you have to do is apply yourself and you can become anything and anyone you want to be."

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