‘Internal Concern’ About Future of Eagles All-Pro: Report

Fletcher Cox, Josh Sweat

Getty Philadelphia Eagles defensive standouts Fletcher Cox and Josh Sweat combine to bring down Ryan Fitzpatrick.

There appears to be added context as to why the Philadelphia Eagles invested two draft picks into the defensive tackle position, including a controversial third-rounder. Yes, the franchise has always valued the trenches but a new report suggests another reason.

According to The Inquirer’s Jeff McLane, the Eagles have expressed “internal concern” over whether Fletcher Cox wants to be in Philly for the long haul. Members of the coaching staff don’t feel like the All-Pro defensive tackle takes the best care of his body or values his health seriously enough. Interestingly, Cox has only missed three games since 2013.

He is widely regarded as one of the best players at his position, one notch below Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams and ahead of Chris Jones of the Kansas City Chiefs. He has registered 408 total tackles and 54.5 sacks in nine NFL seasons.

However, it has been hard for him to duplicate his 2018 breakout campaign when he tallied 10.5 sacks. Cox had 41 tackles and 6.5 sacks in 2020. Blame constant double teams for some of that. Still, there appears to be enough worry within the organization to ramp up competition at the position. McLane also wrote about Cox’s increasing clout on staff hires and fires:

“Howie basically checks everything related to the defensive line with Fletcher to make sure it’s OK first,” a team source said. “So that has often led to certain people getting jobs, and in some cases, the same losing them.”

The Eagles and Cox, through a team spokesperson, declined to comment on the various claims made in this story.

Cox isn’t the lone reason why the Eagles have had four defensive line coaches since 2016. There have been myriad factors, more recently the hiring of a new head coach. But the defensive tackle’s sentiments did play a role in the departures of two assistants, team sources said.

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Cox Looking to Connect with New Coaching Staff

Cox will turn 31 years old on Dec. 13 and talked about doing “anything” to help the team when he addressed the media two weeks ago. The Mississippi State product didn’t sound like a slacker not committed to a strict offseason conditioning programming.

In fact, Cox praised the energy that the new coaching staff was bringing to spring OTAs. Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and head coach Nick Sirianni have instilled a culture of competition. The veteran leader seemed ready to embrace it.

“The biggest thing for me is that every new coach in this organization is making sure that I connect, especially with the head coach, connect with him, then connect with the position coach, then connect with the D coordinator,” Cox told reporters. “You want to connect with those guys because we’re here. We’re all together now, we’re a family now, we’re a team. We’re going to go through some ups and down so lets’ get this connection going right now.”

Eagles Ink JaCoby Stevens to Rookie Deal

The Eagles inked sixth-round pick JaCoby Stevens to a rookie contract on Monday. The four-year deal is worth $3.6 million with a base salary of $660,000 and a cap hit of $692,677 in his rookie season (via NBC Sports Philadelphia). The team is trying to convert the college safety from LSU into a linebacker.

Second-rounder Landon Dickerson remains the only rookie unsigned with Stevens under contract. The former Alabama standout offensive lineman was drafted to be the potential replacement for Jason Kelce at center. He is coming off a torn ACL suffered during last year’s SEC Championship Game.


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