Philadelphia Eagles Free Agency 2013Saving money isn’t something many people know how to do anymore. With multiple credit cards and frivolous spending, it’s easy to get carried away. Heck, $20 in my pocket will always find its way into a vending machine on some crap I really don’t need. And while this is a terrible segway into speaking about managing a multi-million dollar salary cap, the Philadelphia Eagles know that feeling of eating junk after getting burned on big money free agent players that didn’t pan out. The infamous “Dream Team” still gives fans stomach aches.
I’m assuming most people expected a huge splash on Tuesday from the Philadelphia Eagles, grabbing big-names to add to the new Chip Kelly system. The Eagles were one of only a few teams with huge pockets entering 2013′s NFL free agency. To our surprise, the team went out and purchased five quality under the radar players that should make some significant difference not only to the depth of the team, but to the system on defense that the Eagles are trying to install.
Usually, second and third tier players are not signed until later in the free agency process. Yet general manager Howie Roseman and coach Chip Kelly targeted specific players, wasting little time getting them under contract.
- Defensive lineman†Isaac Sopoaga†shores up a much needed nose tackle for the Eagles new 3-4 system. Without the big ugly centerpiece, teams exploit the 3-4 by running directly at it. Isaac Sopoaga,†6-foot-2, 330-pounds, played mostly nose tackle for San Francisco for eight seasons. The 31-year-old veteran†will battle it out in training camp with Antonio Dixon for the starting defensive nose tackle position, although it’s likely that they’ll each share the role throughout the season.
- Former Oregon Duck and New England Patriot Patrick Chung rejoins Chip Kelly after signing a 3-year, $10 million deal to fill one of the two vacant safety positions available. The second-round draft pick in 2009 played the last four seasons for the New England Patriots, but has been limited by injuries in recent years. While I’m fairly confident Kelly can revitalize Chung’s value, I find it hard to believe that a player that couldn’t succeed in the Patriots defensive system will flourish in a new breed 3-4 unit for the Eagles. Nevertheless, the birds picked up a quality, affordable safety to help their defense. If teamed up with another quality safety, the Eagles could look like geniuses by not breaking the bank on FS Dashon Goldson, adhering to the principle that two heads are better than one.
- James Casey adds a very interesting element to an undersized receiving corps. Brent Celek was supposed to have a breakout season a year ago, but has been plagued with drops and miscues with his quarterback(s). Casey, formerly of the Houston Texans, is well versed in many positions. He lined up at fullback and tight end while wearing battle red. It’s still uncertain what type of role he will play for the Eagles, but as one of their first signings in free agency, it’s certain that they were targeting him early on.
- Bradley Fletcher, formerly of the St. Louis Rams, looks very much like a nickel corner, yet reports are that the team does not plan on using him on the inside. His role moving forward must be as a depth player, because at this point it doesn’t seem like an upgrade over the corners that they let go. Fletcher started 26 games over four seasons for the St. Louis Rams. He was a starter for 15 games in 2010 but started only four last season.
- Jason Phillips also falls under the depth player category. Used mostly as a special teamer for the Carolina, Phillips was able to rack up 22 tackles and two forced fumbles in 16 games. He is definitely not a big-name player, yet it you’re going to install the 3-4 system, you’re going to need many options at the linebacker.
The shopping spree may seem like the team was visiting the dollar store, but much like how the New England Patriots†and†Pittsburgh Steelers approach free agency, I believe the Philadelphia Eagles are looking for smart affordable football players with experience in what they are trying to install, along with locker room guys to create an overall positive morale for the team moving forward. Breaking the bank on a big-name player that eats up all their salary cap is not what the team needs in the rebuilding process under Chip Kelly’s first year.
I do expect a few more signings, maybe even the occasional big-name tier two offensive tackle, but at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if they took a very conservative approach to their 2013 roster.
The shopping continues:
- Eagles signed OLB Connor Barwin, formerly of the Texans, to a six-year, $36 million contract.
- Philadelphia Eagles agreed to terms with FS Kenny Phillips, formerly of the Giants, on a one-year contract.
- Eagles signed CB Cary Williams, formerly of the Ravens, to a three-year, $17 million contract.