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Eagles Fletcher Cox 'Like a Hero' Amid Retirement: 'One of The Best Dudes Ever!'

Longtime Philadelphia Eagles great Fletcher Cox is retiring at the age of 33 after becoming one of the best players in team history
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PHILADELPHIA – It was there for all to see. There wasn’t anything much at all to see, actually.

That, of course, would be Fletcher Cox’s locker on Jan. 17, two days after the season ended for the Philadelphia Eagles. Cox’s locker was virtually cleared out, 12 years of stuff gone.

It’s not always to read much into that, especially because a few stalls deeper into the locker room, Jason Kelce’s locker was overflowing with brown cardboard boxes filled with stuff, and his locker was still crammed with items.

This, though, was a tell. Cox wasn’t coming back.

On Sunday, he made it official. He retired from the NFL after spending his entire career with the Eagles after arriving as the 12th overall pick in the 2012 draft.

In the span of a week, the Eagles lost one of their best offensive players and leaders in center Kelce and now defensive tackle Cox, one of their best defensive players and leaders.

NFL lead draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah was in his final season as a scout for the Eagles and penned this on Cox:

Cox will go down as one of the Eagles' best players. He was named to the NFL's all-decade team of the 2010s. He and L.A. Rams superstar Aaron Donald are the only two defensive tackles from 2010-19 to produce 45-plus sacks and 10-plus forced fumbles.

He was a four-time All-Pro selection, including a first-team pick in 2018 after recording a career-high 10.5 sacks. His 70 career sacks are the most ever by an Eagles defensive tackle, and he is fifth overall trailing only Reggie White (124), Trent Cole (85.5), Clyde Simmons (76), and Brandon Graham (73).

Graham can add to that total after the Eagled decided to bring the defensive lineman back on a one-year contract and for a 15th season - a team record for most years played in an Eagles uniform.

Fletcher Cox retired on March 10 at the age of 33.

Fletcher Cox retired on March 10 at the age of 33.

Even at 33, Cox appeared to have more left to give in his career, so the announcement while evident nearly two months ago, is somewhat surprising.

Jordan Davis saw this day coming back on Jan. 17 when he talked about it.

"I knew it was coming, but I didn’t know it was going to come this early," he said. "When you watch a guy growing up, he’s kind of like a hero. I got a chance to work with him every day. I’m very fortunate...We got to see him walk away."

Last year, Cox collected five sacks in 15 starts with 33 quarterback pressures, and 17 quarterback hits. 

Perhaps Cox will stay in shape and be called upon by a Super Bowl contender in November as the missing piece on a defense contending for a Super Bowl title, kind of like when the Eagles brought in Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph during their Super Bowl push in 2022.

Maybe that team will even be the Eagles. That of course, is far down the road, and Cox has plenty of interest to keep him busy. He owns a 1,500-acre ranch in Texas and purchased a drag racing team that competes in professional events across the country.

The Eagles have been remaking their defensive tackle spot for the past few years, spending a third-round pick on Milton Williams three years ago and Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter were back-to-back first-round picks the previous two drafts.

The team also has the under-rated Marlon Tuipulotu, second-year draft pick Moro Ojomo, and futures contract players Noah Elliss and Thomas Booker at the D-tackle spot.

It's a young group that could lead the Eagles into free agency looking for a veteran, such as the expensive Christian Wilkins on a three-year deal or maybe a less expensive option like Leonard Williams on a one-year deal if that can be attained.

The Eagles will still be on the hook for Cox's cap charge, which still has $14.3 million left to run. If they designate him a June 1 move, they can gain $1.5M in space for 2024 but be on the hook for $10.1 in 2025. The charge, though, can be spread out over the next two years.

Either way, Cox will be deeply missed not only on the field but off it as well.

"He walked away on his own terms; a lot better than a lot of people can say in this league," said Davis. "It kind of hurts to see this. It hurts me more because I didn’t get the chance to send him out the right way. 

"I didn’t get to send him out riding into the sunset. It’s kind of like, we crashed and burned, and he gotta limp out. He gotta crawl out. It’s just those moments, and you’re like, ‘Damn. That’s Fletcher Cox.’ Everybody asks me, ‘How’s Fletch, how’s Fletch? Is he a (bleep)?’ I’m like, ‘Man, he’s one of the (best) dudes you’ll ever meet.’"