The Philadelphia core four is officially back with the final domino falling Wednesday when veteran defensive tackle Fletcher Cox re-signed a one-year deal with the Eagles for $10 million, the second straight season the four-time All-Pro has taken a bit of a financial haircut to stay with the only professional organization he’s ever known.
Cox, 32, followed defensive end Brandon Graham and All-Pro center Jason Kelce as the foundational pieces back on one-year deals. The other group member is right tackle Lane Johnson, who is under contract through 2025.
Cox was drafted in the first round back in 2012, two years after Graham was a first-round pick in 2010, a year after Kelce in the sixth round, and a year before Johnson went No. 4 overall in 2013.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter called the contract a “hometown discount” because it was not the best money offer Cox received on the open market. An NFL source noted that Cleveland, which now has former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, a big Cox fan, running its defense was in the mix but no word on how high the Browns’ offer went and it was likely pulled after they agreed to terms with former Minnesota DT Dalvin Tomlinson.
Cox became a bigger priority after fellow DT Javon Hargrave left for a monster deal with San Francisco and the six-time Pro Bowl selection will continue as the veteran leader of a very young group that currently includes third-year players Milton Williams and Marlon Tuipulotu, as well as second-year nose tackle Jordan Davis as projected bodies in the rotation.
Along with Hargrave, aging veterans Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh also aren’t expected back moving forward.
Cox had a bounce-back season from a pass-rushing standpoint in 2022 with seven sacks, his most since a career-high 10 1/2 in 2018. He is one of the best defensive players in franchise history with 167 starts, 65 career sacks, which is fifth on the franchise’s all-time list and the most by a DT in team lore.
Cox’s 173 career games with Philadelphia is the third-most of any Eagles defensive player, behind Brian Dawkins at 183 and Graham at 178. Both Graham and Cox will surpass Dawkins in 2023 if they each stay healthy.
SANDERS REUNITED WITH DUCE STALEY
The Carolina Panthers agreed to terms with former Eagles RB Miles Sanders on a four-year deal Wednesday.
It’s a logical spot for Sanders because his old position coach Duce Staley is not the assistant head coach under Frank Reich with the Panthers.
Sanders had a career year with the Eagles this past season, rushing for 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns but Philadelphia typically doesn’t value the RB position monetarily and when Philadelphia agreed to terms with former Seattle RB Rashaad Penny on a one-year, $2.1 million contract, Sanders said goodbye to Philadelphia vis Twitter.
Once it became official that the Panthers would be Sanders’ new team, the Penn State product again thanked the city and its fans.
“Since I was 7 years old, All I wanted was to play in the NFL,” Sanders wrote on Instagram. “Philly made my dreams come true. Thank you for the unforgettable experience. Not looking forward to being a visitor at the Linc but can’t wait to see y’all again.”
EAGLES FREE AGENCY UPDATE
Signing with Eagles: RB Rashaad Penny (Seattle)
Re-Signing with Eagles: DE Brandon Graham, OC Jason Kelce, RB Boston Scott, CB James Bradberry, DT Fletcher Cox
Signing Elsewhere: LB T.J. Edwards (Chicago), DT Javon Hargrave (San Francisco), S Marcus Epps (Las Vegas), OT Andre Dillard (Tennessee), LB Kyzir White (Arizona), RB Miles Sanders (Carolina)
Pending Release: CB Darius Slay
Remaining Free Agents: S C.J. Gardner-Johnson, NT Linval Joseph,WR Zach Pascal, DE Robert Quinn, QB Gardner Minshew, OG Isaac Seumalo, DT Ndamukong Suh, P Brett Kern