Extra Year Indicates Eagles Have Plans for Blake Countess
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Less than a week after claiming Blake Countess off waivers from the Los Angeles Rams, the Eagles have extended the versatile defensive back's contract through the 2020 season.
NBC Sports Philadelphia was the first to report the tweak in Countess' deal and a league source confirmed the restructure to 973espn.com.
Countess, a sixth-round pick of the Birds in 2016 who played at both Michigan and Auburn in college, came back to Philadelphia under a one-year tender offer of $2.025 million. The restructure will likely lower that number but also is a clear indication the Eagles have at least penciled in Countess as a part of this team some September.
A 5-foot-10, 191-pound cornerback turned safety, Countess was waived by the Eagles at the final cutdown in 2016 and Philadelphia wanted to add him to the practice squad but Countess saw a better path to playing time in Los Angeles and decided to sign with the Rams' PS.
Ultimately he was proven right and promoted to the 53-man roster by Los Angeles in November of his rookie season and had been a staple of the Rams special teams units over the past two seasons.
In Week 3 of 2018, Countess was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after recovering a blocked punt for a touchdown in a 35-23 win over the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Rams moved on from Countess after taking two safeties in the draft and the 25-year-old refused to take a pay cut from his tender offer. There was some talk that Los Angeles would want him back if things could be worked out down the road.
During his three seasons with the Rams, Countess was a deep sub-package player in the secondary toiling in 141 defensive snaps as a rookie, 164 as a sophomore and a career-low 58 last season. He was a core special-teamer, however, participating in 325 snaps there by his second season and upping that to a career-best 356 in the Rams' run to the Super Bowl last season.
With the Eagles, Countess joins a safety group which includes starters Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod, as well as free-agent pickup Andrew Sendejo, Tre Sullivan, Deiondre' Hall and the recently claimed Godwin Igwebuike on the depth chart.
Countess' previous experience at cornerback is something Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz values in his safeties. Countess also has experience returning kickoffs and his further special teams acumen on coverage units will certainly help in securing a 53-man roster spot.
The Eagles recently lost two of their own core special-team coverage players from 2018 recently when D.J. Alexander signed in Jacksonville and LaRoy Reynolds relocated to San Francisco.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen