If you look at the records around the NFL, and in the NFC in particular, you can see the effects of the hard salary cap. Parity is a word the commissioner's office loves. Personally, I hate it. Teams have to be dismantled every couple of years. Fans see their favorite players leave when they become too expensive. Complete teams seem to be a thing of the past. The Eagles, with a few rare exceptions, have found the key to working around this. Todd Herremans is the latest example of how.
The Eagles signed Herremans to a 5-year contract extension today, locking him down until 2013. They're probably paying him too much this year, but they had the cap space, and he'll be a bargain at the end of the contract if he continues to develop. The middle of the Eagles offensive line -- Herremans, Jamaal Jackson and Shawn Andrews --- are now signed through the next 7 seasons. The reason the Eagles were in the NFC championship 4 years in a row, and made it to the Superbowl is they have identified their key players early in their careers and signed them to long-term deals at a discount. This has kept them at the head of the league in talent.
What happened last year, you ask? Well last year was the penalty for veering off that path the year before. Signing T.O., and Jevon Kearse for that matter, was a departure from the philosophy which made the Eagles' success sustainable. They put all of their eggs in one basket, paid too much in free agency, when the players they invested in didn't contribute, they were left in the lurch. T.O.'s off-the-field antics didn't help, but beyond that it took away from the team as a whole. This year, they're playing together and they're back on the right track both financially and on the field. Keeping the core group of players together builds a team that is greater than the sum of its parts.
The contract extensions for Herremans, Jackson, Andrews, Trent Cole, Mike Patterson and Reggie Brown show that the Eagles are back on the right track. If they can stay the course, last year will definitely be a blip on the radar, rather than an alarming trend.