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The Eagles have made their signing of the free agent period and it's a 3 year, $14.5 million deal with former Texans FB James Casey. He was originally a 5th round pick in 2009 draft and has started 16 games over the past 2 seasons for Houston.
While Casey mostly played FB with the Texans, he will likely be used in more of an h-back role with the Eagles that will allow them to take advantage of his versatility. The 6-3, 240lb Casey primarily played TE at Rice where he racked up 111 receptions for over 1,300 yards and 13 TDs in only his first year as a TE. He had originally been recruited as a QB. Definitely check out this 2009 SI profile on him.
At one point, he lined up at 7 different positions (including DE/QB/WR) in a college game. He was drafted by the Chicago White Sox and pitched in their farm system for 3 years. Clearly, this guy is a very well rounded athlete.
If you're looking for an example of he could be used in Chip Kelly's offense, a comparison could be Colt Lyerla. He's a 6-5, 238lb H-Back type that both started at TE for Oregon but also played some RB. So clearly we're starting to see some of the elements of what Chip Kelly wants to do on offense taking shape here. And this move certainly comports with our earlier report that Kelly was going to look to "stockpile" TEs in this offsense.
According to reports, as many as 15 teams reached out Casey at the start of free agency.
I reached out to our pals at the Texans blog Battle Red Blog who had this to say about the man they have nicknamed "Thor."
When we first drafted James Casey in the halcyon year of 2009, expectations of him were quite high for a 5th Round Draft pick. According to some, he would not only play TE, but he'd be a flanker, Wildcat QB, long snapper, and sell Texas BBQ during halftime. Expectations can be quite a bear, but Casey has proven to be a reliable TE and FB.
As a TE, he's definitely not the best blocker in the world, and he definitely struggles on the edge, but he's a hard worker and doesn't give up. In the passing game, he has reliable hands, decent short area quickness, but he excels in finding openings against pass coverage. He's not going to wow you with any single tool in his shed, but the sum of his parts add up to a fine player as a TE.
As a FB, he's a great TE. He's not afraid to lay the lumber when blocking, but in 2011, he took the punishment on a block, hurting his shoulder, and he clearly wasn't the same player the rest of the year. In 2012, he was utilized more in the passing game out of the backfield and rarely as a true lead blocker, which is probably his overall best role.
With Owen Daniels on the team and healthy, there are many who feel we didn't completely take advantage of Casey's skill-set especially in utilizing three TE sets. Daniels simply received more playing time than Casey, though Casey has some remaining upside. Oddly, Casey will play 2013 as a 29 year old, older than your normal veteran of this draft class because of his baseball career. So how much upside? I'm just not sure.
Casey is a solid contributor, a true 100% grinder. If this were baseball, we'd call him scrappy and reminisce over David Eckstein. But Casey brings a measure of athleticism to his position, and if you sign him, you'll be pleased with the results. He's a great community guy, as well. This will be a net loss for the Texans
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