Tight end Smith, Eagles' franchise player, signs tender

Philadelphia Eagles starting tight end L.J. Smith eased the minds of everyone in the organization about possibly missing any time this offseason by signing his one-year franchise tender Wednesday.

Often, players get upset about the franchise tag because it doesn't give them the chance of hitting the unrestricted free agent market. Smith, the first player named as a franchise player this offseason, apparently didn't have any problem. He signed the deal for $4.522 million.

"We're glad to have L.J. back," coach Andy Reid said Wednesday. "We expect him to have a Pro Bowl-caliber season for us. I know he's worked very hard since the 2007 campaign ended, and he will continue to do so throughout the offseason."

Smith had just 22 catches for 236 yards and one touchdown in only 10 games during an injury-plagued season last year. A second-round pick in 2003, Smith has 194 receptions for 2,227 yards and 15 TDs in five years with the Eagles. He had a career-best 61 catches in 2005.

"I've been anxious to get back to working out with my teammates so that we can make a run at a championship next season," Smith said. "Signing the contract now allows me to focus in on next season without any distractions. Since the season ended, I've been working hard, but being around my teammates, working together, is only going to make us better next year."

Smith became the fourth franchise player to sign his tender, joining Stacy Andrews of the Cincinnati Bengals; Marcus Trufant of the Seattle Seahawks; and Jordan Gross of the Carolina Panthers. Defensive tackle Corey Williams of the Green Bay Packers was traded to the Cleveland Browns before signing a six-year, $38 million contract.

With Smith back and in good spirits, the Eagles' offense should improve in the middle of the field. Recently, the Eagles added tight end/H-back Kris Wilson, who has 40- to 50-reception potential, from the Kansas City Chiefs.

John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.