PHILADELPHIA – Monday wasn’t supposed to happen.
Three years to the day the Eagles shocked the football world by taking Jalen Hurts in the second round of the 2020 draft with a perceived franchise quarterback already in tow, the MVP runner-up took to the dais at the NovaCare Complex as the highest-paid player in the history of the NFL.
Accompanied by his agent Nicole Lynn, girlfriend Bry Burrows, and the Eagles’ brass, Hurts spoke for the first time after securing the bag in the form of a four-year, $255 million contract extension.
“It means a lot,” Hurts said of the contract. “It means everything. I think three years ago today, Mr. [Jeffrey] Lurie and Howie [Roseman] had the courage to draft me when no one really understood why. No one knew why. … I know a lot of people didn’t understand it at the time, but it happens.”
It happens but only if you couple a burning desire to win with a tireless work ethic and an uncommon maturity of a young man in his early 20s.
“I think the main thing for me has always been, since I was in high school, was to be the best player that I can be,” Hurts said. “I love the game. I love the grind. I love the hustle that it takes, and the hard work continues.
If there was any concern over what money might do to Hurts, Lurie, the man who rubber-stamped the largest expenditure in franchise history, wasn’t showing any signs of sweat.
The Eagles owner introduced Hurts with a five-minute soliloquy on the quarterback’s leadership and culture-setting standards.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today, to have these opportunities to lead this city, without this game. So, I’m going to put everything into it as I’ve always done and stay on the quest to lead and be the best that I can be with it,” Hurts said.
Through it all, Roseman, head coach Nick Sirianni, and Julian Lurie sat in the second row beaming.
Once the festivities were over, teammates DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, and Greg Ward, as well as offensive coordinator Brian Johnson, who has known Hurts since he was a small child, entered the back of the NovaCare Complex auditorium to celebrate with Hurts.
The average annual value of Hurts’ new deal is $51 million, the highest in league history to date but structured in a way that is as team-friendly as possible.
“Money is nice,” said Hurts, “championships are better.”
The Eagles got an NFC championship last season but the big one still dangles in front of Hurts.
“I know this is a building full of hungry individuals that are willing to do everything that needs to be done to win and I’m grateful to lead that path,” he said.