Eagles' next big contract could go to DeVonta Smith

ByTim McManus ESPN logo
Wednesday, April 10, 2024

PHILADELPHIA -- Receiver DeVonta Smith is a strong candidate to sign the next big contract extension with the Eagles.

The front office has been busy this offseason locking core players into long-term deals. Offensive linemen have been the primary beneficiaries to this point. Guard Landon Dickerson signed a record-breaking four-year, $84 million extension in March and tackle Jordan Mailata followed by inking a three-year, $66 million contract earlier this month.

The focus now shifts to one of their most important skill position players. The Eagles are making efforts behind the scenes to get something done with 25-year-old Smith. Contract talks are ongoing, sources familiar with negotiations said, and there's general optimism that a deal will materialize in the near future.

"DeVonta is an incredible person, incredible player; obviously homegrown, young guy," general manager Howie Roseman said at the scouting combine in February, when asked how big of a priority it was to sign Smith to an extension this offseason. "Without getting into specifics, those are guys you don't really want to leave."

Smith, the 10th overall pick in the 2020 draft, has racked up 240 catches for 3,178 yards and 19 touchdowns over three seasons with the Eagles. The former Heisman Trophy winner set the team rookie record for receiving yards (916) in 2021, surpassing a mark previously held by DeSean Jackson, and established a new high for single-season receptions (95) in '22. He eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving for a second consecutive year in 2023.

Known as a big-game player dating back to his days at Alabama, Smith has saved some of his best work for the postseason. He had eight grabs for 148 yards in January's wild-card loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and became the third Eagles player with 100-plus receiving yards in a Super Bowl with his seven-catch, 100-yard performance against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII.

The two sides aren't working against any kind of imminent deadline here. Smith is under contract through 2024 at a base salary of just over $1 million. And the Eagles have until May 2 to exercise the fifth-year option on Smith's rookie deal, which would come in around $16 million for the 2025 season, according to OverTheCap.

But Philadelphia has a well-established history of signing foundational players as early as possible, in part because they know the price tag will only go up. With a number of top-end receivers eligible for new deals, including Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase, there's likely extra incentive to get something done with Smith before the market resets.

Still, the new contract is going to have to have some heft to it for it to make sense from Smith's perspective, seeing as an extension would likely keep the 25-year-old under contract through the 2028 season.

The top of the market may be a reach -- Miami Dolphins star Tyreek Hill currently holds that distinction with an average annual salary of $30 million -- but it would be no surprise if Smith commands $25 million or more per season. There are currently four receivers in that financial range: Hill, Davante Adams of the Las Vegas Raiders ($28 million), Cooper Kupp of the Los Angeles Rams ($26.7 million) and Smith's teammate, A.J. Brown ($25 million).

Smith and Brown became the first receiver tandem in Eagles history to each reach 1,000 yards receiving in 2022 and they repeated the feat last season. Teamed with quarterback Jalen Hurts, they've helped fuel an offense that ranks fifth in points per game (26.8) over the last two seasons, and have developed a strong bond over that time.

The Eagles are just getting into the thick of Hurts' five-year, $255 million extension and could soon be paying two receivers around $50 million a year between them. Add in the Mailata and Dickerson extensions, and the $13 million annually they gave to running back Saquon Barkley in free agency, and you're talking about some serious investment on the offensive side of the ball.

But Smith has proven to be a high-end, durable player over his three years in Philly -- he's missed just one game despite concerns coming out of college about his slim build -- and looks to be emerging as a team leader. If those trends continue, his new deal could look like a bargain before long.

"It's all in God's hands," Smith told The Inquirer in February. "At the end of the day, extension or not, I'm going to have to come in and do what I have to do. It's God's timing, so he's going to put me in the right place at the right time."

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