Now that the offseason has officially started for the Eagles, Andy Reid and company will have to spend the next couple of weeks carefully scrutinizing the 2010 roster. The free agency signing period begins in a little over a month and a half and by that time, the front office should have a good idea of which Eagles players they'll want to bring back for the 2011 season (if there is one). Today, BGN takes a look at the defensive end position.
Trent Cole: Despite starting in every game except for the season finale, Cole's stats experienced a slight decrease this year. Due in part to Sean McDermott continually dropping him back into pass coverage (with limited success), Cole's sack total dropped from a Pro Bowl-worthy 12.5 last year to only 10 this year. Cole even went so far as to express his frustration to the media about McDermott's defensive schemes. Thankfully, McDermott is now gone and the signing of DL coach Jim Washburn, coupled with a new defensive coordinator, should result in Cole being used more effectively, propelling him back into Pro Bowl form next season. He is currently signed through 2013.
Brandon Graham: After a lackluster rookie season in which he only started six games, first-round pick Brandon Graham was sent to the IR with a torn ACL after facing the Cowboys in week 14. Throughout the year, though, Graham showed flashes of productivity, accumulating 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. The signing of Washburn came at exactly the right time, as Graham will now have a skilled and respected mentor to assist in his continuing development. Assuming his offseason recovery goes smoothly, expect Graham to be a larger part of the defense next season.
Juqua Parker: At 32, Parker is remarkably one of the oldest players on the Eagles roster. He will be entering the final year of his contract in 2011 after starting 10 games this season. Parker's history in Philadelphia, while far from perfect, has been a solid one. Although he's not a three-down defensive end, he will give you quality playing time and create big plays on occasion. He has lost a step over the years, however, and will be a liability against more mobile quarterbacks (aka Joe Webb). Expect him to play out the remainder of his contract in an Eagles uniform.
Darryl Tapp: After getting swapped with the Seahawks for Chris Clemons, Tapp provided value as a rotational player, putting a fair amount of pressure on opposing quarterbacks throughout the season. His contract currently extends through 2012, so expect him to return to training camp and compete for playing time once again.
Daniel Te'o-Nesheim: After getting drafted in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft, expectations were high for the rookie out of Washington. At the end of the season, however, Te'o-Nesheim had little to show after only being activated for six games. Although it's highly unlikely that the Eagles would give up on him this early, he'll have to really wow the coaches in training camp if he expects to garner any significant playing time in 2011.
Bobby McCray: A late-season emergency pickup after the failed Derrick Burgess experiment, McCray will likely find himself a free agent at the end of next month. The 29 year old veteran was active for only one game all year - the week 17 loss to the Cowboys - and accumulated no stats.
Victor Abiamiri: Since getting drafted by the Eagles in 2007, Abiamiri's tenure in Philadelphia has been marred by a lack of productivity and a plethora of lost playing time. After missing the entire 2010 season while recovering from microfracture surgery, Abiamiri is left looking at an expired contract and possibly the end of his NFL career. Don't expect him back in 2011.
Ricky Sapp: After a lackluster training camp, the DE/OLB hybrid out of Clemson went the route of fellow Eagles King Dunlap and Fenuki Tupou and spent his "redshirt" NFL season on injured reserve. He is currently signed through 2013 and has the potential to become a versatile cog in the Eagles' revamped defense - so long as he steps up his game and stays healthy throughout training camp.
Who Could Leave
Victor Abiamiri, Bobby McCray
Who Could Sign
One of the first names that popped up as a future Eagles target after the signing of Coach Washburn was that of Jason Babin. After a Pro Bowl year with the Titans, the ex-Eagle may be returning to Philadelphia to reunite with his DL coach. Said Babin:
"He's the guy who poured water on me, let me have sunshine, gave me fertilizer, and really let me grow. It would be hard for me not to contemplate it if he said, ‘Jason, I want you in Philly.’ He resurrected me. I’d have to at least give that serious consideration."
Now it seems that it's up to the Eagles to decide whether Babin is worth the multimillion dollar contract his Pro Bowl status will surely garner.