Philadelphia Eagles Offseason Free Agency Guide - Part 9: Defensive Tackles

via cache.boston.com

The trading/free agent signing period is fast approaching, so the Eagles front office will have to decide who they plan to pursue come March 5th. Over the next few weeks at BGN, we will be taking a position-by-position look at who we could see in an Eagles uniform come training camp. Today's position? Defensive tackles.

During the 2009 season, defensive tackles Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley combined for a total of 72 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4 pass deflections, and 0 forced fumbles. While these numbers aren't the worst, the Eagles could certainly afford to upgrade their interior defensive line with a big playmaker. Backing up the two starters are promising rookie Antonio Dixon and second-year man Trevor Laws, who appears to have been given a second chance after a forgettable first two seasons. Neither are at starting quality yet, though. Unfortunately, there are very few options available in the free agent market, but here are the best of the slim pickings:

Vince Wilfork (UFA):The 28 year old Patriot is easily the best available defensive tackle in free agency. He is a clear-cut starter with two Pro Bowl selections already under his belt (2007 and 2009). Wilfork is an extremely hard-working player who can stuff the run as easily as he rushes the pass and always commands the attention of at least two o-linemen. If the Eagles manage to land this big fish, he could give the defensive line that much-needed punch and possibly even free up a player like Mike Patterson as trade bait.

Aubrayo Franklin (UFA): Although the 29 year old 49ers DT is a natural for the nose tackle position in the 3-4 defense, the Eagles could take a shot at acclimating him to their 4-3 scheme. Franklin has a nasty streak and a great first step that can stuff the run. His one weakness though, is his tackling ability. Don't be surprised if the Eagles front office doesn't want to gamble on coaching another Asante Samuel.

Shaun Smith (UFA): The troubled young Smith has bounced around the football world for the past two years, playing at times for the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Cincinnati Bengals, and even the UFL Las Vegas Locos. If he can get some stability in his life, it is possible he could return to being a productive rotational starter. Just two years ago, Smith racked up 62 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 passes defended, and a forced fumble for the Browns d-line. If the Eagles are willing to take the risk (hey, they did with Vick) a one-year investment in Smith could pay off.

Other Available Free Agents:

In the next installment, we will be taking a look at defensive ends. Feel free to leave any suggestions on who to examine in the comments section. For more information on unrestricted vs. restricted free agents in a potentially uncapped year, check out this great article over at Mocking The Draft.

Previous articles: QB, HB, FB, TE, WR, OT, OG, C

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