- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 5, 2016

Since a 35-18 wild-card round loss to the Green Bay Packers in January, when Jordan Reed hauled in nine passes for 120 yards and a touchdown, the Washington Redskins tried locking up their tight end with a new contract.

Negotiations continued throughout the offseason, though Reed thought they may have hit a snag when the team signed cornerback Josh Norman to a five-year, $75 million contract.

Still, they found a way to keep Reed, signing the record-setting tight end to a multi-year extension on Thursday. The five-year deal, which will begin in 2017, is worth up to $50 million and could make him the highest-paid tight end in the NFL that season.

“Honestly, I don’t want to be anywhere else than here,” Reed said on Thursday, after the deal was finalized. “I love it here. I love playing for the Redskins. I love all my coaches and all my teammates. I love this area, man. It was a solid deal and I’m just happy to be a Redskin.

“It means a lot that the Redskins invested that kind of money into me and think that highly of me as a player and as a person. I’m going to show them that they made a good investment, and I’m going to prove them right in making me one of the highest paid.”

Reed had a breakout season in 2015 and led the team with 87 catches, 952 yards and 11 touchdowns, which tied Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell’s mark from 1962 for the fifth-most receiving touchdowns in a single season in team history. The 25-year-old also broke the Redskins‘ single-season receiving yardage for a tight end, set previously by Chris Cooley in 2008 and 2010 and Jerry Smith in 1967.

Throughout his first three seasons, Reed’s talent and ability to be an elite receiver has never been in question. It was his health that was concerning, as he only played 20 of 32 games in his first two years. He played just nine games in 2013 after dealing with a concussion, a bruised right quad and a right hip pointer. The following season, he was limited because of hamstring strains and played in 11 games. Reed has also had a variety of other procedures since he was drafted in the third-round in 2013: He bruised his right foot in August 2013, had a stomach virus and sprained thumb in training camp in August 2014, received stem-cell treatment in his left knee last May and also missed the first two games of the preseason with a hamstring strain.

By the start of the regular season, Reed was eager to prove he could stay on the field. He missed Week 5 and Week 6 as he recovered from a concussion, but went on to play in 14 games and greatly impacted the offense. In the final four games of the regular season, Reed hauled in 29 passes for 378 yards and five touchdowns, including two scores in the teams’ 38-24 win against the Philadelphia Eagles to clinch the NFC East title.

It seemed as if the Redskins would wait to see if Reed could be as durable again in 2016 before re-signing him, but they felt comfortable that his talent outweighed the potential risks.

“My agent told me mostly everything was positive [during negotiations],” Reed said. “And, you know, when I talk to these guys nowadays, it really doesn’t come up. I just want to move on and show that I can play 16 games.”

Reed worked out in Texas with left tackle Trent Williams before the start of last season and , because he felt like he was in the best shape of his career, he said he plans on doing it again this summer. He also spent the last two months training in Miami at a sports performance institute.

“I just figured out a routine that was effective for me, and that was what I did last season,” Reed said. “After OTAs is over, I’ll go out to Texas. That’s where I trained before at the season last year, and [Williams] helped me a lot and put a lot of muscle on me. His workouts are real hard so he was able to make practices and games easy, working those hot summers in Texas.”

Other tight ends also received big pay days this offseason. The Kansas City Chiefs signed tight end Travis Kelce to a five-year, $46 million extension. The Philadelphia Eagles signed Zach Ertz to a five-year, $42.5 million extension. Reed’s extension puts him behind New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who signed a six-year, $54 million deal in 2012.

Now that Reed is locked up, the Redskins can turn their attention to working out long-term deals with others — most notably Cousins, who is scheduled to play this season on the franchise tag unless they work out a contract before July 15. Defensive end Chris Baker, wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon and outside linebacker Junior Galette are among others set to become free agents after this season.

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