After Alshon Jeffery decided to sign with the Eagles and pair with Carson Wentz, the star wide receiver sent a text message to his new quarterback.
"I told him my job is to help him win the MVP, which I truly believe," Jeffery said. "Sky's the limit for him. He's a great quarterback."
And Wentz's response?
"I don't really care about MVP. I want to win championships," Wentz said, according to Jeffery.
That's the type of optimism that comes when a team lures a top wide receiver in free agency, although they are only contractually bound to play with each other for one season. So the connection might be full of promise, but the outlook on Jeffery's first day in Philadelphia was limited to 2017.
"I think it's the perfect fit for me," Jeffery said about signing a one-year deal. "The right situation for me and my family."
At the combine, Howie Roseman heard rumors about how much it might cost to sign Jeffery. When the tampering period opened earlier this week, Roseman said he let Jeffery's representatives know the Eagles were interested and remained in communication. As it turned out, Jeffery wanted a one-year deal and wanted to play for the Eagles, so the Eagles needed to make the money work. The $14 million contract comes with an initial salary cap hit of $9.5 million before incentives.
"I wouldn't necessarily say it was something that we wanted," Roseman said of the one-year deal. "But from our perspective it was a win-win situation. . . .For us, we thought it was a great opportunity to get a player who's extremely talented and has something to prove and wanted to be here. So it worked out, and obviously you always like to have guys on longer deals, but we also have to look at the opportunities. We said all along that we're going to try to be aggressive if the opportunity made sense, and we just thought the contract made a lot of sense."
Roseman noted that the Eagles will have options to retain Jeffery beyond this season, whether it's the franchise tag or exclusive negotiating rights leading up to 2018 free agency. But why worry about 2018 on the day he signs his contract? That seemed to be the approach of Jeffery, who wasn't focused on the possibility of a long-term deal or entertaining what will happen beyond this season.
Jeffery was suspended for four games last season for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy, and he insisted that he's smarter about what goes in his body and that it won't happen again. He also had an injury-plagued campaign in 2015. But when he's on the field, there are few wide receivers in the NFL who've produced like Jeffery. When describing what plays he prefers in the red zone, Jeffery said to "just throw it up." He's one of the best in the NFL at coming down with it.
The Eagles feel confident in their background with the two-time Pro Bowler, noting how many people on their coaching staff know him. Wide receivers coach Mike Groh was his position coach in Chicago. Executives Joe Douglas and Dwayne Joseph were with the Bears during Jeffery's fine-year career. Running backs coach Duce Staley went to South Carolina and has known of Jeffery.
"He was a guy that was highly regarded in this building," Douglas said.
Roseman's message since the end of the season was building long-term around Wentz. Even though Jeffery is on a one-year deal, Roseman views the addition of the 27-year-old as consistent with his plan – not a deviation. The reason is because Jeffery is the type of player who is still in his prime. The Eagles view him as someone they'd like to extend, not someone who they plan to be a short-timer in Philadelphia while hold down the position until they find a long-term option.
Of course, the 2017 season will dictate whether that happens. The Eagles won't be so pressed on salary cap space in future years, but it seems Jeffery made a business decision by signing with the Eagles. He will be the featured receiver in an offense that likes to pass with a quarterback he thinks can get him the ball. So a good season from Jeffery will make him even more attractive next March. If that happens, the Eagles will be happy, too.
"I'm not Nostradamus, so I don't know where we're going to be in January," Roseman said. "There are too many scenarios that can happen to talk about a long-term deal for next season at this time. But we had in-depth discussions about a lot of scenarios with them in terms of before we signed him to the one-year deal, and we feel really confident that when Alshon gets here and sees the passion this city has for our football team, gets around the people on and off the field, that this will be a place he'll want to be."