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April 25, 2023

Jalen Hurts has his contract, but his Super Bowl fire still burns

"Money is nice," Hurts said after officially signing his five-year contract extension with the Eagles, but "Championships are better."

Do you remember April 24, 2020, and what that night felt like? How confusing it was?

Being stuck inside because of a recently declared pandemic, unsure if there was even going to be an NFL season, much less any sports for the foreseeable future, with Roger Goodell announcing all the new draft picks in a broadcast from his basement while a jar of M&M's behind him only got emptier with every passing commercial break?

How – over Twitter, group chats, or Zoom calls – we were all trying to justify the Eagles' selection of Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson 24 hours before, only to be left more baffled when they took Jalen Hurts in the second round at 53rd overall?

It didn't add up. They already had Carson Wentz. He was the franchise quarterback. Why go that high on a backup, not to mention the guy that lost his starting job to Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama? Did Howie Roseman and, at the time, Doug Pederson have some sort of a Taysom Hill Swiss Army Knife idea for him in mind?

Hurts remembered that night and all the befuddlement, mixed emotions, doubt, and aggravation from fans trying to understand what the Eagles were doing.

But, as he sat at the podium at the NovaCare Complex Monday with the ink freshly dried on his five-year, $255 million contract extension, he remembered all the work put in since to put all of that to rest, work that he was sure to emphasize will continue on.

His own to be the best player he possibly could, his teammates to push the team as far as they could, Roseman's in retooling the roster, Nick Sirianni's in getting the Eagles back on track after he was hired as head coach to replace Pederson, his agent Nicole Lynn in making him the highest-paid player in the NFL, owner Jeffrey Lurie for having the trust and willingness to provide the resources for all of it even after the guy Hurts was never supposed to succeed didn't work out, and the efforts of countless others.

"I know a lot of people didn't understand at the time" Hurts, three years to the day, recalled of his selection to Philaelphia that night. "But it happens."

And the likelihood is the Eagles didn't fully understand what they had gained that night either – few had any real way of knowing – but after a rapid ascension from a rookie backup into a fringe starter and then one of the best QBs in the NFL, propelled by an MVP-caliber season and a run that fell just shy of another Super Bowl title, they came out of the fog knowing this for sure...

On April 24, 2020, even if they didn't know it yet, drafting Jalen Hurts was one of the best decisions the Philadelphia Eagles ever made, and they're hoping they made another by officially signing him long-term on Monday.

But even now, "mixed emotions" was how Hurts described the current situation, because, in his own words, "money is nice, championships are better."

"I am grateful, I am thankful," he said. "But I'm just so hungry, and as I said, the hard work continues and the fire continues to burn."

But hey, that sure beats where everything around the Eagles was three years ago. 

Hurts was careful not to make his new deal a moment for reflection because, for him, he and the Eagles are only getting started on a championship mission he fully intends to see through. 

His contract – and the size of it – is a milestone within itself, for sure. But for him, far from any reason to grow complacent. He wants to get the Eagles back to the Super Bowl and win it, and the contract grants himself and the team the time and the flexibility to try and do it. 

When they met with the media for pre-draft availability last week, Roseman was confident that giving Hurts the big contract wasn't going to change who he was or what he was after, Sirianni said "We didn't pay him more to do less," and Hurts, like he's put it so many times before: "Nothing's changed but the weather."

"I think about these moments and I think about these times, and you say it's an exciting moment...but I think I set the precedent for what it is that I desire," Hurts said. "I think for me, it's so hard because my mind's everywhere and I just really can't help but keep the main thing the main thing, what I set out to do and what this organization is set out to do.

"The only thing that I've ever wanted to do was be the best version of myself. That hasn't changed, that won't change."

And the work to get there, the work that wiped away all the doubt and confusion from that April night three years ago and now has the Eagles with Super Bowl aspirations, won't stop. 

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