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Fletcher Cox's option picked up by Eagles

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The Philadelphia Eagles exercised their fifth-year option on Fletcher Cox, meaning the defensive end will remain under contract through the 2016 season.

Cox was the Eagles’ first-round draft choice in 2012, the second year that first-rounders were signed to four-year contracts with fifth-year options. Cox, the 12th pick of that draft, has emerged as an outstanding player. Eagles coach Chip Kelly called Cox the Eagles’ best defensive player in 2014.

“I think he’s been our top player,” Kelly said in December. “He’s been really unblockable at times. I think he’s a very disruptive force.”

Cox had four sacks in 2014. He is most effective in the Eagles’ run defense, which ranked ninth in the NFL. He also scored his first career touchdown, returning a fumble recovery 17 yards in the season opener against Jacksonville.

Cox is scheduled to earn $1.8 million for 2015, the fourth year of his rookie contract. Under the fifth-year option, Cox will make $7.8 million in 2016.

The Eagles may choose to work out a new contract extension with Cox. This is the first year they are allowed to do so. They had to decide by May 3 whether to pick up his option. That would have no effect on their ability to work out a new contract.

It also wouldn’t affect the Eagles’ ability to trade Cox. His name has been linked in trade speculation, at least partly because the Eagles had not yet worked out a new contract with him.