Eagles star defensive end Fletcher Cox is entering the final year of his rookie contract and is expected to cash in on a big payday when he next signs his name. Without a deal, Cox did not show up to voluntary OTAs. But he did show up when things got mandatory Tuesday.
He conveniently walked into the locker room at 1:01 p.m., one minute after the Eagles media relations staff asked the press to clear the locker room.
In a statement made through the Eagles earlier Tuesday, Cox made it clear he had no intention of discussing the short holdout. He did not want to talk about his contract either:
“I’m happy to be back in Philadelphia to get back to work with my teammates and coaches," the statement said. "I’m excited for this upcoming season and I can’t wait to get on the field for minicamp this week, learn our new defense, and do whatever I can to help our team win. Any discussion about my absence from the offseason program or my contract will be handled privately between me, my agent and the Eagles organization.”
What about the other questions Eagles writers and fans are curious about? After all, he is walking into a brand new defensive scheme cold. And what kind of shape is he in? What has he done this offseason to keep in shape?
The defender — who had one of his best seasons last year and is expected to be even better under Jim Schwartz' 4-3 scheme this year — could have sat down, said no comment on his contract situation and talked football with the media. But he didn't even do that.
There is not expected to be any media availability for Cox this week before the Eagles break for a few weeks ahead of late July's training camp.
Doug Pederson, the Eagles' new head coach, did talk to the media in a news conference Tuesday — cautiously sneaking around the prevailing questions about Cox.
"We didn't even get into it quite honestly," the coach said. "I am just happy that he is back. I talked to him yesterday, I told him I understand, it is a voluntary program."
The OTA sessions are technically voluntary, and no punishments are handed down for players who do not attend, but by and large attendance is expected. Everyone except for Cox and Darren Sproles (who skipped the sessions for family reasons) were at OTAs.
Both Sproles and Cox will now be playing catch-up in minicamp before the long layover ahead of camp in July.
"He will be limited," Pederson said of Cox. "We want him to be in the meetings and go through the walk-throughs. We want him to get as many mental reps this week as we can. We don't want to put him out there and risk injury … right now is not the time to see what he is capable of because he has already proven that."
Is there a chance, without a contract agreement by the start of training camp, that Cox would consider holding out?
"I'll leave that to Howie [Roseman]," Pederson said. "I am just focused on the team."