Eagles agree to deal with Miles Austin, extend Ryans' contract
Chip Kelly continues to hand out money to players with extensive injury histories. The Eagles agreed to terms Monday on a one-year contract with wide receiver Miles Austin and extended and restructured linebacker DeMeco Ryans' contract through 2016.
This article has been corrected. An earlier version said the Eagles' seven new players missed an average of 12 games last season.
Chip Kelly continues to hand out money to players with extensive injury histories.
The Eagles agreed to terms Monday on a one-year contract with wide receiver Miles Austin and extended and restructured linebacker DeMeco Ryans' contract through 2016.
The oft-injured Austin has to pass a physical Tuesday before he can sign a deal that is worth $2.3 million and with $700,000 in incentives, an NFL source said. Hamstring injuries have limited his playing time over the last four seasons; last year with the Browns, he was placed on injured reserve with a kidney injury on Dec. 3.
Ryans is coming off the second ruptured Achilles tendon of his career. The Eagles lowered his salary-cap number for 2015 from $6.9 million to approximately $3 million by cutting his base salary from $6.8 million to $2 million and giving him a $2 million signing bonus, another league source said.
But they also added a year to his contract, which is worth $7.5 million overall with $6.25 million guaranteed. The remaining $2.25 million that is guaranteed is for injury only but becomes fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2016 league year next March. There are also incentives in the deal that can increase the overall worth to $10.5 million.
Of the seven players the Eagles have acquired since the start of free agency, four went on IR last season, six missed at least three games and the seven missed an average of 9 games. Kelly obviously believes that his sports science program will have some impact on additions such as quarterback Sam Bradford (knee) and linebacker Kiki Alonso (knee).
Austin, 30, played eight seasons with the Dallas Cowboys before signing a $1.7 million deal with Cleveland last year. He made the Pro Bowl in 2009 and 2010, eclipsing 1,000 yards receiving in both years, but missed 15 games over the next four seasons mostly because of hamstring woes.
Austin caught 47 passes for 568 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games last season. He has good size (6-foot-2, 215 pounds), but turns 31 in June. The Eagles needed to address their depth at receiver after Jeremy Maclin signed with the Chiefs.
Riley Cooper, Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff remain on the roster. Kelly has said that the coming draft is once again deep at receiver. It's likely the Eagles will select one, but Austin provides insurance in case of injury or if Huff isn't ready to start outside or if Cooper continues to regress.
Ryans turns 31 in July. He suffered his first Achilles injury in 2010 and again four years later on Nov. 2 in Houston in nearly the same location at the Texans' stadium. He recently said that his rehabilitation was progressing as expected and that he anticipated a full return by training camp.
The Eagles have three starting-caliber inside linebackers on the roster with Ryan, Mychal Kendricks and Alonso. Kelly said one of his primary objectives this offseason was to address depth at the position.
"I think DeMeco missed eight [games] and Michael missed four," Kelly said last week at the NFL meeting. "So it was really getting depth at our inside linebackers, getting more players."
The Eagles also signed former Packers linebacker Brad Jones this offseason. Najee Goode, who missed most of last season with a torn pectoral muscle, and Emmanuel Acho are also on the roster.
Kendricks is entering the final year of his rookie contract. There had been speculation that the Eagles would approach him about an extension this offseason, but he could be expendable in a draft-day trade with Alonso now in the fold and Ryans extended.
"When he was healthy, he played really well for us," Kelly said of Kendricks, who suffered a calf injury last season. "But we missed him for . . . four games. And the health aspect was a difficult thing. We were a different team without him on the field. But when he played, he played really well for us."