What makes Eagles’ A.J. Brown-DeVonta Smith tandem truly special

What makes Eagles’ A.J. Brown-DeVonta Smith tandem truly special originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The franchise that brought you Torrance Small and Charles Johnston?

That brought you James Thrash and Todd Pinkston?

That brought you Reggie Brown, Greg Lewis, Hank Baskett, Travis Fulgham, Jalen Reagor, Michael Timpson, Victor Bailey, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Kenny Jackson?

They finally got it right.

They drafted DeVonta Smith in April 2021 and signed A.J. Brown in April 2022, and in April 2024, they signed both to massive contracts that should keep them together along with Jalen Hurts through 2028.

When the Eagles signed Smith to a three-year, $75 million extension a few weeks ago, Smith raved about playing alongside Brown.

And when Brown signed his three-year, $96 million extension last weekend, he couldn’t stop talking about Smith.

The Eagles are the first team in NFL history to have two receivers at the same time averaging $25 million.

And they’re worth every penny.

“I’m going to send Smitty a little present,” Brown said when asked about Smith’s contract. “He’ll get it soon. But yeah, I was so excited for him. He deserves it. He’s an incredible player. I enjoy playing next to him. He makes my job easier.”

To put Smith and Brown in context, the Eagles had three wide receivers in their first 89 years of existence that had one season with 80 catches, 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns – 34-year-old Irving Fryar in 1996, DeSean Jackson in 2013 and Jeremy Maclin in 2014.

Now Smith and Brown have each hit those benchmarks.

Twice in a row.

The only other teams in NFL history with two WRs with consecutive seasons of 80 catches, 1,000 yards and seven TDs are the 2006 and 2007 Bengals (T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chad Johnson) and 2012 and 2013 Broncos (Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas).

Now they’re both signed through 2028 and it’s scary to imagine what’s possible.

“What’s possible? I mean, the sky’s the limit,” Brown said. “I don’t want to get into saying we can do this and we can do that because ultimately you have to go to work. And that’s what I can speak on. We’re going to work our butt off and show up every single day.”

Where do Smith and Brown rank among NFL wide receiver combos? The Dolphins have Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle and the Bucs have Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.

Who else? Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel with the 49ers, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins in Cincinnati, Puka Nacua and Cooper Kupp with the Rams, D.J. Moore and Keenan Allen in Chicago.

Smith and Brown are either near or at the top of that list. But what you love isn’t just how talented they are but how close they are.

“Me and Schmitty, man, we work really well together,” Brown said. “And we let people decide how they want to decide (where we rank). As long as we are doing our job each and every Sunday that’s all that matters.”

What’s unique about Smith and Brown is that Smith is 25 and Brown is 26. At the rate they’re going, they’ll be one of the top wideout combos in NFL history within a few years.

“We’re always happy for each other,” Smith said when he signed last month. “Two guys that understand one another. If we don’t have big games and the other one does, be happy for each other. It’s never a time that we’re sitting up there, you know, mad at each other, mad at anyone about not getting targets.

“Let’s be realistic. Everybody wants to make that big play. And you should be happy that you have a guy like that. Because you have a lot of guys that when that time comes, they’ll shy away from the moment. You have a guy like him, you have a guy like me, we’re never going to shy away from the moment.”

Smith said last month he and Brown are so close their infant kids talk to each other on the phone. They may not totally understand each other, but it says a lot about this duo.

“It goes back to when you have love for somebody that you care about, you want to see them do good and you know and even when they’re slacking you can be like, ‘Hey, you know, pick it up,’” Brown said.

“I’m extremely excited. I can say the sky’s the limit, but it comes down to working together and putting in that work. That’s the only thing I’m going to get up here and say. We’re going to go to work each and every day, we’re going to push each other. … I’m not going to get up here and say (how good we can be). I’m just going to say we’re going to work hard. That’s it.”

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