Back on 1-year deal, Cox still makes list of most important Eagles


Over the next few weeks leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 25 most important Eagles for the 2022 season.

25. Quez Watkins
24. Gardner Minshew
23. T.J. Edwards
22. Marcus Epps
21. Landon Dickerson
20. Jake Elliott
19. Brandon Graham
18. Jordan Davis
17. Kyzir White
16. Avonte Maddox 
15. Nakobe Dean
14. Fletcher Cox

After six straight trips to the Pro Bowl, Fletcher Cox’s streak was snapped in 2021 as the all-time Eagles great began to show some real signs of decline.

Cox, 31, isn’t the player he once was. But he’s still pretty good and it’ll be fascinating to see what kind of season he has in his second year in Jonathan Gannon’s defense.

During last season, Cox publicly aired his grievances about Gannon’s defense and the two clearly had a rocky relationship. But Gannon listened to Cox and the two found some common ground. And then Cox began to play at a higher level in the second half of the season. In all, he played in 16 games with 3 1/2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 7 TFLs and 12 QB hits.

Not bad, but not what we’re used to from 91.

“It was up and down. That was the biggest thing,” Cox said in the spring. “But you’re going into Year 2 of a defense, you know what to expect.”

Last season, Cox was ranked as the 29th-best interior defensive lineman by ProFootballFocus. That’s much lower than we’re used to as well. But in some ways, Cox has become a victim of his own success. It reminds me of Jason Peters a little bit at the end of his time in Philly. Cox played at such a high level for so long that it set the bar too high. And when he didn’t come close to that level last year, people thought he played poorly. He didn’t by NFL standards. But he did by the standard he set the previous six years.

Entering 2022, Cox can’t be considered an elite defensive tackle anymore. But he’s still a good player, well above league average. And he still figures to be a starter for the Eagles this season along with Javon Hargrave. Jordan Davis and Milton Williams will likely rotate in.

In March, the Eagles were forced to release Cox for a couple days to avoid guaranteeing him $18 million. Eventually, they re-signed him to a one-year, $14 million contract. You can certainly argue that’s too much money for Cox. That contract makes him the 10th highest-paid defensive tackle in the NFL in APY, according to OverTheCap.

But this isn’t about what’s already done. The Eagles could have used that money elsewhere but they used it on Cox, who will still be an important part of the team in 2022, possibly his final season in Philly.

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