PHILADELPHIA - There was no real sense of urgency when it came to the Eagles and linebacker T.J. Edwards.
Despite those circumstances, however, Howie Roseman went the proactive route for the third time and four days, signing the third-year player who has quickly developed into a centerpiece of Jonathan Gannon’s defense to a one-year extension that could net Edwards up to $3.2 million in 2022.
The University of WIsconsin product, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent by the Eagles in 2019, was scheduled to become a restricted free agent after this season so there was very little chance that Philadelphia was losing Edwards.
From a practical standpoint what the Eagles did was tender Edwards, 25, early at a second-round level, buying 12 more months of cost-effective play for $2.15M in guaranteed money and a little over a $1M at signing for Edwards.
The strategy both rewards a player who is producing, which sends a good message to the locker room, while keeping the Eagles’ budgetary structure in place moving forward.
Edwards has been the defensive crux of Nick Sirianni’s push to become a more physical team on both sides of the football.
A 6-foot-1, 240-pound thumper in run support, Edwards was pigeonholed coming out of Wisconsin as being too slow to be a three-down linebacker.
He’s diligently worked on his body over three professional seasons and is faster than the 4.89 he was credited with at the combine with a balky ankle.
"I think people look at my 40-time three years ago and say 'no way he's gotten faster' so you probably can't cover can't play the pass, can't tackle in space," Edwards admitted earlier this month.
It is fair to say Edwards isn’t a burner at the position like his running mate Davion Taylor, but his instincts make up for a lot of that, something evidenced by his interception of Trevor Siemian and two pass breakups in the Eagles’ 40-29 win over New Orleans on Sunday.
"It's a lot of recognition," Edwards said when discussing pass defense. "Pattern reading and honestly, experience helps a lot with just seeing how things kind of work and offensive schemes are. ... when you're coming in as a rookie, it's difficult to kind of all take in but once you're comfortable in the defensive scheme, you're able to kind of pick out the patterns."
Perhaps, the best thing about Edwards, however, is the chip on his shoulder. He still has the mentality of an undrafted player while he produces like the second-round pick he’s now being paid like.
"I'm never one to look at it that way," Edwards said when asked if he's won the LB1 job. "I know that in my position I think people don't really know what to expect from me and I love proving every single day that so many things [people] didn't think I could do or just trying to be at my best so I never say that something's mine.
"And I always know that if I'm not playing well it won't be for long."
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.