Eagles Get Johnson Deal Done
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — As expected the Eagles have reach a contract extension with offensive tackle Lane Johnson, signing the former No. 4 overall pick to a six-year deal that runs through 2021, which could max out at $63 million and includes over $30 million in guarantees.
The numbers are big and if the $35.5 million guaranteed floating around is true, the University of Oklahoma product will be receiving more guaranteed money than any other right tackle in football and more than just three other left tackles, generally the spot with the higher price tag.
The big deal could signal a full-time shift to the left side for Johnson in 2016 and it certainly indicates he is the heir apparent to the 34-year-old Jason Peters, who pushed his way through an injury-plagued 2015, at some point.
Earlier this week Eagles coach Doug Pederson said he would like to have Peters back next season.
(Listen to John McMullen discuss the Lane Johnson deal)
"I think J.P.’s got several good years left in him," Pederson told reporters at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. "I think that he does the right things in the offseason to get himself ready to go for another year. I’m really looking forward to visiting him, talking with him, seeing where he’s at, and then motivating him further for the future."
The offensive line was a disappointment for Philadelphia in Chip Kelly's last season, particularly the interior. Despite his Pro Bowl recognition, though, Peters' play certainly wasn't up to his usual standard and while sidelined with a nerve issue in his back, Johnson flipped sides and proved that he could project as the eventual replacement to Peters whenever the veteran's time in town does end.
Peters was ranked by Pro Football Focus was ranked as the 14th best tackle in football last season while playing 784 offensive snaps, about two-thirds of the team's total because he missed two games and left five others early. Johnson, meanwhile, was No. 24 in 1,191 reps and is eight years younger than Peters.
Peters is scheduled to count over $9 million against the cap next season and has two more years with high numbers after that on his deal if nothing changes so Howie Roseman could still decide the more prudent path moving forward would be to flip Johnson to the left side full-time and draft a tackle at No. 13 overall.
As it stands now, the offensive tackle position is one of the deeper positions with top-of-draft level prospects. Ole Miss LT Laremy Tunsil is a candidate to go No. 1 overall to Tennessee and athletic Notre Dame option Ronnie Stanley also figures to be a top 10 choice. At 13 the Eagles figure to have a shot at either Michigan State's Jack Conklin or Ohio State's Taylor Decker. And as the process goes on, even Auburn's Shon Coleman has a chance to race up the charts.
"I can still play tackle," Peters told the Philadelphia Daily News after the season. "I'm the best we've got. Who they going to put there? Who's better than me in this locker room? Nobody. Who can they draft, better than me? Nobody. Who can they pick up, better than me? Nobody."
The Eagles might answer Johnson, who has started all 45 games (43 at right tackle and two at LT) in which he has played since arriving in Philadelphia as the fourth pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
“I think moving forward that’s what they drafted me for,” Johnson said. “Honestly, Jason Peters is probably the best tackle of all time, one of them, him and Walter Jones in my opinion. Having him here, he’s taught me so much and Im just going to continue to do that until that time comes.
"We have a good relationship. Jason’s my friend. He knows what the deal is, but whenever he’s healthy I still think he’s probably the best tackle in the league. Moving forward, all those decisions will be made but for right now I think he’s good where he’s at.”
Johnson has helped block for Eagles offenses that have set franchise records in total points (474 in 2014), touchdowns (54 in 2014), passing yards (4,581 in 2014) and completions (405 in 2015). As a rookie in 2013, Johnson paved the way for LeSean McCoy who set a new single-season franchise rushing record (1,607 yards), while helping the Eagles offense notch the second-highest rushing-yardage total in team history (2,566).
The former high-school quarterback is also stoked to play in a more traditional offensive environment after three years in Chip Kelly's up-temp system.
“I’m excited to get back to a more traditional style of offense,” he said after the Eagles moved on from Kelly. “I’ve been running this tempo s@#$ since college.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen