The Eagles signed wide receiver Alshon Jeffery to a four-year contract extension through 2021 on Saturday morning, a major step toward keeping their core in place beyond this season by ensuring that quarterback Carson Wentz's top receiver remains in Philadelphia.
Jeffery, 27, will receive $52 million over four years, with $27 million guaranteed, according to a league source, and the total value could reach $56 million with incentives. It comes while he is playing on the one-year deal he signed with the Eagles in March.
The Eagles and Jeffery have been a good match, with the former Pro Bowler catching 43 passes for 619 yards and seven touchdowns through 11 games. He has five touchdowns in the last four games and has been a major asset as the Eagles' No. 1 receiver, requiring attention from defenses that's helping the other offensive weapons.
Jeffery doesn't have the eye-popping statistics of most top receivers – he's not on pace for 1,000 yards this year – but he is a good fit in Doug Pederson's scheme and has also fit in the locker-room culture that the Eagles value. Jeffery traveled to North Dakota during the summer to work out with Wentz and has encouraged the spread-the-ball-around approach that Wentz favors. He has also remained on the field all season after missing time in recent years with the Bears and during training camp.
Jeffery expressed a desire to remain with the Eagles in November, sharing how much he enjoys playing in Philadelphia. He did not want to discuss a potential deal at the time, but the Eagles answered that question Saturday.
"Like I said the other day, I love it here," Jeffery said in a team-issued statement. "I'm blessed to have the opportunity to play for this organization and for these fans. Everyone has welcomed me with open arms and now I'm looking forward to being here for a long time. We have a great group here and I'm excited to be a part of it."
The Eagles are committed to building around Wentz. Zach Ertz, Jeffery, and Nelson Agholor have been the top three receivers this season, and all three are under contract next season. Jeffery and Ertz are signed through 2021. The attention Jeffery commands from defenses as an outside receiver benefits Ertz and Agholor, who are both on pace for career seasons.
This is the second contract extension Howie Roseman and the front office finalized this past month. They signed defensive tackle Tim Jernigan to a four-year deal on Nov. 9. It also helps alleviate some of the pressure of the offseason. The Eagles now have 20 of their 22 starters under contract next season. Linebacker Nigel Bradham and running back LeGarrette Blount are the only starters who are pending free agents.
"Alshon has been a tremendous addition to this organization on and off the field," the team said in a statement. "We place a priority on making sure we are able to build the team around quality players like Alshon who embrace this team and this city the way he has. We are excited about his future here."
Jeffery is also part of a core that is locked up to long-term deals. Although NFL players do not always get to play out the entire length of their contracts, the Eagles have contract options on 19 players through 2020. That includes high-profile players such as Wentz, Jeffery, Ertz, Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Brandon Brooks, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Jason Kelce, and Sidney Jones. It allows the Eagles to take advantage of a period before Wentz would start earning much more money on a second contract.
Even when there were questions about why the Eagles would sign players such as Jeffery to one-year contracts this offseason, owner Jeffrey Lurie said the Eagles wanted "optionality" – as Sam Hinkie once said – to balance the short-term and long-term interests. On the day the Eagles introduced Jeffery in March, Roseman expressed optimism that Jeffery would be more than a one-year rental in Philadelphia.
"We had in-depth discussions about a lot of scenarios with them in terms of before we signed him to the one-year deal," Roseman said at the time, "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."
Jeffery signed a new contract Saturday to prove that's the case.