Throughout the first week and few days of the 2010 free agency period, the Eagles have made some minor transactions that have provided upgrades to the Safety and Wide Receiver positions; they’ve also tried to improve the defensive line and RB spot by offering contracts to guys like Julius Peppers and Kevin Faulk. However, one of the positions on their roster that still needs some depth or at least another key figure for the starting lineup is the Linebacker corps. Of course, young players like Stewart Bradley and Moise Fokou provide hope that the group will be ever-s0-solid in the coming seasons, but injuries and inconsistency in ‘09 made it clear that there is a need for another quality LB, whether it be an Outside Linebacker or one who plays in the middle.
The team chose not to re-sign aging MLB Jeremiah Trotter at the start of free agency, and it appears they won’t be making any attempt in the future to bring him back either. As for their other uncertainty-surrounded LBs, Chris Gocong and Akeem Jordan remain unsigned, but have been offered restricted free agent tender contracts. In addition, veteran OLB and special teams ace Tracy White was not made an offer by the team, and it seems as if–like Trotter–he will not be returning to play in midnight green in 2010.
And while Karlos Dansby–considered the prized free agent available at the LB position–inked a big deal with the Dolphins earlier in the signing period, there are still some capable names left. Besides Keith Bulluck, who has been linked to the Eagles several times this offseason, here are some Linebackers still looking for a job that might be of interest to the Birds:
- Danny Clark: As infuriating as it may seem to add a player who was once a member of a division rival, it’s never a bad idea if the certain guy will benefit your team. This relates to Clark, who played the last pair of seasons with the Giants, but has overall been a productive defender. Originally selected by the Jaguars in the 2000 Draft, the 6-foot-2, 245 pound Illinois native has also played for the Raiders, Saints, and Texans. In his career, he has averaged about 60 tackles per season (quite good considering he began his NFL tenure as a situational reserve). One of his best seasonal performances came in 2004, in which he totaled 129 tackles, 2 sacks and a forced fumble.
- Andra Davis (pictured): At 31 years old, Davis remains one of the better veteran Linebackers in the league. Although injuries here and there have been somewhat of a distraction, the 8-year pro has maintained a consistent string of production for whichever defense he’s playing on. Most recently a member of the Broncos, he notched 90 tackles and 3.5 sacks in ‘09, proving he can still be an effective leader of a LB corps. Prior to his stop in Denver, Davis spent 7 solid years in Cleveland, where he recorded a total of 641 tackles and 8 interceptions.
- Na’il Diggs: Though he typically does not receive a lot of credit for the assistance he gives to defensive units, Diggs is among the top remaining LBs on the market, excluding the stars who hold the restricted free agent status. His early years in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers were limited due to injuries, but he still managed to produce quality numbers. After departing for the Panthers in 2006, Diggs racked up a trio of consecutive seasons in which he had at least 43 solo tackles in a rotational role. His 2009 season was by no means impressive, as he started in only 11 of 16 games, but he is still a reliable tackler and decent option as a temporary fix at the LB spot. His best seasons came in ‘02 and ‘03, in which he had over 80 tackles, at least 1 sack, and 2 interceptions.
- Larry Foote: The Steelers have been showing some recent interest in Foote, so the Eagles might actually have to bid for Foote’s services if they intend on reeling him in. However, his experience in the league, aggressiveness, and overall level of production might be worth it. Drafted in 2002 by Pittsburgh, the 29-year-old player spent this past season with the Lions after playing 7 respectable ones in black and gold. A 2-time winner of the Super Bowl, Foote has tallied an impressive 530 career tackles in 5 full seasons as a starter. In ‘09, he compiled 2 sacks, a forced fumble, and led Detroit with 99 tackles. His simple sense of leadership is a strong factor in itself, and his on-field achievements just add to his credentials.
- Pisa Tinoisamoa: Once a solid defender with the Rams who was considered to be on the rise in the tiers of the league’s Linebackers, Tinoisamoa has been somewhat forgotten in this offseason’s free agency period. He agreed to a deal with the Bears last May with high hopes, but ended up playing in only 2 games due to a knee injury. Now he remains unemployed, and–though he is surely a risk to play at a high level with any team anymore–might be of interest to the Eagles. After all, the team recently added defensive back Marlin Jackson, who has recently had injury problems but is talented overall. From 2003 to 2008 with St. Louis, Tinoisamoa averaged about 75 tackles per year, and added a total of 10 sacks and 7 interceptions. Again, he is sure to be a risky signing if indeed pursued, but has the potential to assist a depth-deprived LB corps.