YOU COULD almost hear the briefcase clicking shut Monday evening.
That's when Howie Roseman finished a four-month negotiation with Fletcher Cox, perhaps already the best defensive tackle in Eagles history and probably the best athlete in the city, depending on how you regard Claude Giroux.
According to ESPN, Cox, 25, agreed to a six-year, $103 million contract extension, $63 million of it guaranteed in various manners. It might turn out to be the most guaranteed money a non-quarterback has ever made, but NFL contracts are specious documents full of misdirection and hidden intent. That doesn't matter.
It also doesn't matter that the Eagles clearly blinked. Cox missed the voluntary portion of the offseason and seemed prepared to hold out of training camp, too. With a new coaching staff, his absences so far will mean he will need to catch up when training camp starts July 25.
What matters is that Cox will, in fact, be attending this training camp, and the next one, and the next one. He's home, and he's happy.
What matters is that the Eagles secured their young, cornerstone defensive player to grow in tandem with their cornerstone on offense, rookie quarterback Carson Wentz.
What matters is that Roseman, reascended as general manager after a year of Chip Kelly's manic schemes, promised Eagles fans that he would keep Cox. Then, he delivered.
The importance of delivering on that promise cannot be overstated. Everything else Roseman did this offseason showed vision and aggressiveness. In the short term, though, nothing was as important as securing Cox.
Roseman could not afford the spectacle of Cox holding out of training camp; or, worse, attending camp as a disgruntled employee. If Cox had to play out his fifth season on a one-year deal for less than $8 million, Roseman would have been skewered. Cox is the new Dawkins, the next Reggie. In this defense-first town, letting a top-tier defender go play elsewhere is unforgivable.
Comparing Cox with Brian Dawkins and Reggie White might be bold, and it might be premature, but consider: It took Dawkins four seasons to reach his first Pro Bowl, too. Besides, Cox is not the next Reggie, in that he will not record 198 sacks; he's the next Reggie, in that the defense will be built around him.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick adores Cox. What better endorsement is there?
As for the memory of defensive tackle Jerome Brown and his two Pro Bowls in five seasons, remember: Brown played with Reggie White. Fletcher Cox went to the Pro Bowl playing next to Brandon Graham.
All of this is an attempt to amplify Cox's nebulous contributions and justify his enormous payday. He recorded just 22 sacks in four seasons . . . but he played under coordinators Juan Castillo and Billy Davis. He was drafted in the first round in 2012 to be a 4-3 defensive tackle, when he notched 5 1/2 sacks on a poor defense that was disastrously managed.
Cox then was miscast for three seasons as a 3-4 defensive end. Still, in 2015 he managed 9 1/2 sacks in the 3-4, which usually features pass-rushing linebackers. Cox collected those sacks while continually fighting double teams and chip blocks and a boatload of holding calls that never got called. Cox has been overshadowed by future Hall of Fame players like J.J. Watt and Ndamukong Suh, but now that he's getting paid like them, that might change, too.
It has been a busy few months for Roseman. He cut Riley Cooper and DeMeco Ryans; extended Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Lane Johnson, Vinny Curry, Malcolm Jenkins and Sam Bradford; and traded DeMarco Murray, Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso for draft picks that framed his coup de grace, when he mortgaged the future to take Wentz second overall.
Roseman's wide brush strokes had obliterated Kelly's influence and recreated the team in his image, but one loose end still dangled. Roseman needed to finish the Cox deal to stabilize the franchise, to finish the offseason housekeeping and to solidify his rule.