Note: This is a guest post from PSU Junior Troy Weller. For information about how to write your own guest post, please visit our Guest Post page
Once the lockout was lifted and NFL teams received the OK to proceed with player movement, Eagles general manger Howie Roseman did his best Ruben Amaro, Jr. impression and delivered the city of Philadelphia one of the most hectic and exciting free agency periods it has seen in recent memory. As of August 6, the Eagles had signed 12 free agents, acquired one via trade, and released (then re-signed) another. This overhaul of talent has gone against the Eagles free agency philosophy, causing one former player to complain that they never did this for him and resulting in the unwanted adaptation of the “Dream Team” moniker.
Let’s rank the top 5 most important moves made by the Eagles, starting with #5…
#5 – Jason Babin, DE
After bouncing around during his first few years in the league, Babin finally had a breakout year last year in Tennessee. The former 1st round pick recorded a career high 12.5 sacks and earned his first ever trip to the Pro Bowl. When Titans defensive line coach Jim Washburn bolted for Philadelphia, Babin followed suit. During Washburn’s 12 years inTennessee, the Titans ranked fifth in run defense and seventh in sacks thanks to their defensive line. Babin will help form a fierce duo with Trent Cole, and expects the success he saw with Washburn inTennessee to carry over this season.
#4 – Vince Young, QB
After drafting Jake Locker in the April draft, it seemed that Young’s days in Tennessee were numbered. Upon being released on July 28, Young signed a 1-year deal with the Eagles the very next day and immediately stepped in to fill the vacant back-up role. Although Young has had his problems off the field and lacks some maturity (see “Dream Team” moniker), he brings NFL starting experience to the Birds. A Pro Bowl selection twice in his career, VY was the most athletic quarterback available on the market. This gives the Birds a great second option if Michael Vick gets hurt because of the two quarterback’s similarities.
#3 – Ronnie Brown, RB
The Eagles have had recent troubles running the ball on 3rd and short, but the addition of Brown may help to stop that trend. The second overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, Brown is a bruiser and will be a great complement to LeSean McCoy this season, giving the Eagles a proven player who can step in at anytime if McCoy runs into injuries. Brown is an offensive weapon, and can line up in the wildcat formation just like he did while in Miami. The rich got richer here.
#2 – The Cornerbacks
Aside from Asante Samuel, it was really a corner by committee situation last year for the Eagles. The NFL lockout prevented the Eagles from being able to deal quarterback Kevin Kolb on draft day, so they had to wait until a new CBA was drafted in order to target another stud cornerback. Once the lockout ended, the Eagles wasted no time in doing just that, sending Kolb to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for 2009 Pro Bowler Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. When everyone thought the cornerback situation had been solidified, Howie Roseman swooped in at the very last minute and signed prized free agent Nnamdi Asomugha, immediately giving the Eagles the best cornerback rotation in the NFL. The Eagles could think about shipping the now disgruntled Samuel elsewhere in exchange for linebacking depth, but with each passing day it seems more and more like he is opening up to the situation. You could see all three of these all-world corners on the field in nickel packages, but regardless, it gives the Eagles much needed depth in a pass happy league.
#1 – Ryan Harris, RT
As it turns out, the Eagles most important post-lockout acquisition is probably one of the least talked about. Right tackle Ryan Harris, who was signed to a 1-year deal after playing last season in Denver, has been practicing with the first team offense and will most likely be the Week 1 starter with Winston Justice still recovering from offseason surgery. Although Harris does not carry that much weight, he is a very athletic guy with quick feet, and is regarded by many as one of the best pass blocking right tackles in the NFL. Keep in mind that this is Michael Vick’s blind side, so being able to protect him should have been one of the Eagles top goals, especially after the performance by Justice in the playoff game against Green Bay. Harris is also friends with rookie right guard Danny Watkins as the two went on vacation together, so their chemistry on the right side of the ball could be exactly what the Eagles need in order to keep their most important player healthy.
About the Author: Troy is a junior at Penn State University majoring in broadcast journalism. He is the “Treasurary” of the Paternoville Coordination Committee at Penn State, and is involved in ComRadio, the student radio station. Troy is from Hatboro, Pennsylvania, just north of Philadelphia.