A.J. Brown is the Eagles’ Bryce Harper

Just hours before selecting Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell with their first round pick in the NFL Draft, Eagles fans breathed a sigh of relief when news broke the team had signed All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Brown to a three-year contract extension.

Another WR deal in Philadelphia: Eagles and Pro-Bowl WR A.J. Brown reached agreement on a 3-year, $96 million extension that includes $84 million guaranteed, per sources. The $32 million is the highest per-year average for any WR.

Tory Dandy negotiated and confirmed the deal. pic.twitter.com/yv1U7T8WAM — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 25, 2024

Suddenly, Brown’s Instagram featuring a profile picture of Tom Brady doesn’t seem like such a big deal now, does it?

The extension begins after the final three years on his current deal expire, meaning he’ll be under team control (as much as any star wideout can be under anyone’s “control”) through the 2029 season.

A.J. Brown is now under contract through 2029 — the longest deal of any players on the Eagles (not including void years).

That’s a major commitment between team and a player.

Brown is on a Hall of Fame trajectory based on his first 5 years in the NFL. The prime of his career… https://t.co/ccMTUXM2BB — Zach Berman (@ZBerm) April 25, 2024

The last portion of Zach’s tweet above got me thinking. The Eagles have re-signed Brown, who will be 27 years old for the ‘24 season, to a deal that will take him through what we assume will be most of his prime, his age 32 season. Certainly there will be decline at the end of the contract, but that’s the risk you run when you want to commit to one of the three best wide receivers in the league, and NFL contracts aren’t guaranteed, so it’s likely there will be a solution should it come to that. For now, it’s all aces.

And Zach is right about another thing. Brown is on a Hall of Fame trajectory, if he maintains his current level of play for a few more seasons.

He has 1000+ yards receiving in four of his first five seasons. In two seasons with the Birds, he’s totaled 194 catches, 2,952 yards receiving and 19 touchdowns. Playing alongside DeVonta Smith for the next few seasons and with a quarterback in Jalen Hurts who has shown an ability to get him the football, Brown will almost certainly make it to Canton if he can stay healthy.

In short, the Eagles have locked up a future Hall of Fame player at a key position at a young age for the prime of his career.

It got me thinking about another potential Hall of Famer signed by one of your local sports teams recently just as he was entering the prime of his career.

Bryce Harper came to the Phillies as a 26-year-old with an MVP already to his credit after seven years with the Washington Nationals. Baseball players have longer careers than NFL stars, so the comparison between Brown and Harper isn’t exactly apples-to-apples, but it’s reasonably close.

Harper signed a free agent contract, whereas Brown was stupidly traded to Philadelphia by the Titans, although that trade was based on Brown’s desire for more money and the Eagles’ willingness to offer him a new contract. And while it’s unlikely Brown will win a league MVP award (it’s always a shock when a QB doesn’t win that particular piece of hardware), he does have the chance to be a 1st-Team All Pro every season he’s on the field.

Like Harper, Brown is an impact player and the key to the Eagles’ offensive success. When he came to the team, the entire offense was transformed. Suddenly, Hurts had a go-to weapon who was simply physically better than anyone else lined up against him. It completely changed the culture of the offense and, to a degree, the team. He did for Hurts what Terrell Owens did for Donovan McNabb in 2004, only without the driveway sit-ups afterwards.

Like Harper, Brown has made big plays in the postseason, particularly in Super Bowl 58 against the Chiefs.

DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown combined in the Super Bowl:

13 catches

196 yards

1 TD

A dominant performance. This duo is just getting started. pic.twitter.com/bltN9YEPWa — Brenden Deeg (@BrendenDeeg_) February 13, 2023

Pretty dang similar to Bryce Harper’s NLCS MVP performance against the Padres in 2022.

Both are proven big-game players and, just like Harper, Brown still has a number of years left in his prime to accomplish even more.

Again, given the lifespans of MLB and NFL contracts, there are differences. Brown came to the Eagles after just three years elsewhere and has spent all of his prime with the Eagles, whereas Harper enjoyed significantly more success with another team than Brown has.

But make no mistake, each player’s presence is vital to their team’s success, which is what made the rumors about Brown potentially being traded in the weeks leading up to the draft so concerning. Without Brown, the Eagles’ offense suddenly becomes a lot less scary, and there really is no way to replace either player should they get hurt.

So rejoice, Eagles fans! Your team locked up their own Bryce Harper for what will essentially be the rest of his career, keeping that Super Bowl window propped open a bit longer.

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