Eagles would be wise to keep extensions coming

The Eagles have jumped into free agency with a unique approach. They are signing their own guys first. It’s a change of philosophy from the free agent spending spree the team went on last offseason.

“We thought there were opportunities there to get some players that can make a difference at key positions in free agency, but really what we want to do is draft and re-sign our own,” GM Howie Roseman said last month.

Todd Herremans, Trent Cole and DeSean Jackson are all locked up for the long haul. Still, there are a few other players the franchise would be wise to throw money at. After the above deals, the Eagles saved an estimated $6.6 million in cap room, according to eaglescap.com, and have $21.9 million in space.

1. LeSean McCoy

The star running back enjoyed a breakout season in 2011, leading the NFL in rushing TDs (17) and making his first Pro Bowl. He’s in the final year of his rookie deal — worth $615,000 in ’12 — and there’s a strong chance McCoy would hold out and miss camp without a new deal. McCoy was the Eagles’ MVP last year and should be paid as such, right around the $44 million deal Arian Foster signed.

2. Evan Mathis

The seven-year vet burst out of nowhere and took over as the starting left guard in 2011. He doesn’t get the accolades that linemates Todd Herremans and Jason Peters do, but he was every bit as effective and allowed zero sacks. It’s a surprise the Birds allowed him to get to free agency — Mathis is considered as one of the top three guards available — especially after the way Howard Mudd’s line jelled with his addition.

3. Jeremy Maclin

OK, this one isn’t a slam dunk. Maclin was a first-round pick, so he’ll be competitively compensated through 2013, when he could earn $3 million. However, if the goal is to keep the current nucleus together, then go ahead and rip up that rookie deal and avoid another DeSean situation in two years. Maclin was on pace for his best year in 2011 before a midseason injury.

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