|Friday, August 15
Extension locks up wide receiver through 2008
By Len Pasquarelli
Once again making a preemptive strike to re-sign a young "nucleus" player before his existing contract expired, the Philadelphia Eagles reached an agreement Friday afternoon with wide receiver Todd Pinkston on a five-year extension.
Under team president Joe Banner, Philadelphia has made a habit of re-signing its younger players a year or two before their current contracts expire. The Eagles now have 15 current starters under contract through at least the 2005 campaign.
ESPN.com first reported on Wednesday afternoon that the negotiations had accelerated to the substantive level.
The five-year extension, which runs through the 2008 campaign, can be worth as much as $18 million in so-called "new money." The signing bonus is approximately $4 million. It is believed to be the largest signing bonus ever awarded a wide receiver who still had two years remaining on his contract.
Arguably the most cap-healthy playoff-caliber team in the league, the Eagles could well afford the extension, since they still had more than $10 million in spending room.
A second-round pick in the 2000 draft, Pinkston was the Eagles' leading pass receiver last season. He originally signed a five-year contract as a rookie, with a provision that 2004 would void if Pinkston caught 55 passes this season. Eagles officials essentially conceded that Pinkston would catch enough passes to void the 2004 season.
Pinkston, 26, will earn a base salary of $619,500 in 2003.
The former Southern Mississippi star has improved every season in the league and club officials feel he is on the cusp of a breakout season in 2003. While slightly built, Pinkston is tough in the intermediate zones and in 2002, just his third NFL season, he developed into the primary target for quarterback Donovan McNabb.
"You would like to think that he can really blossom (this year)," said Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress. "There is no reason he shouldn't."
In the Andy Reid-designed offense, which spreads the ball around, Pinkston might never register 80-85 receptions, but he knows the scheme, fits in well, and has demonstrated the kind of selfless attitude the Philadelphia coaches covet.
Pinkston led the Eagles with 60 receptions for 798 yards and seven touchdowns in 2002. For his career, he has 112 catches for 1,565 yards and 11 touchdowns, while appearing in 47 games and starting 31 of them.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.