The final half of this article series has been a long time coming, so thanks for bearing with me though the gap. Let's take a look at the Eagles' defensive tackles today.
Mike Patterson: Although he once again went the year without forcing a single turnover, Patterson had a few key stops during his up-and-down season. At times, he was manhandled by opposing offensive lines, but at other times the six year veteran managed to come up with crucial stops in the run game. Expect him to be back in a starting role in 2011 since he is currently signed through 2016 and will cost the team only $1.4 million this year. However, should the whisperings of Albert Haynesworth's transfer to Philadelphia come to fruition, it's possible that Patterson could find himself the odd man out along the defensive line.
Antonio Dixon: After going undrafted in 2009, Dixon has been a wonderful surprise to an otherwise struggling Eagles defense. Once thought to be on the fringe of the 2010 roster after suffering a concussion during training camp, Dixon proved his doubters wrong and won a starting position by week six. He is currently signed through 2012 and should be back in a lead role next season. It will certainly be intriguing to see how Coach Washburn assists in the development of this exciting young player.
Brodrick Bunkley: The elbow injury Bunkley suffered in week five not only ended up costing him two games, but possibly his permanent starting position as an Eagle. With only five starts on the year, Bunkley finished with a total of seventeen tackles and zero sacks. He will be entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2011 and will need a big year if he expects to stay with the team. He might even be used as trade bait before then.
Trevor Laws: The meteoric rise of Antonio Dixon has pushed this former second-round pick further and further down the depth chart. However, Laws has thus far excelled as a role player, accumulating thirteen tackles, four sacks, five pass deflections and even an interception this season. He will be entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2011, but should produce a quality season under Coach Washburn that will keep the young DT in Philadelphia for years to come.
Jeff Owens: After spending the majority of the season on the practice squad, Owens was called up to the big leagues during week 16 and, in a nasty twist of fate, tore his ACL almost immediately. Such a late-season injury could very well mean that Owens will not be ready for the 2011 season, so we may see him appear on the PUP list...if he survives the roster trimmings. Owens is currently signed through 2013.
Jeremy Clark: A late-season pickup to replace the injured Jeff Owens, Clark made his return to the City of Brotherly Love by starting in the week 17 scrimmage against the Cowboys. He accumulated no stats for the game and was declared inactive for the wild card match against the Packers, so don't expect to see the 27 year old veteran hang around for too long. He is currently signed through 2012, but should be gone during the preseason roster cuts.
Who Could Leave
Brodrick Bunkley, Jeremy Clark
Who Could Sign
Although he is a publicist's nightmare, there's no denying the talent Albert Haynesworth possesses when given the right motivation. We've seen countless gurus and fans alike speculate on the deadly matchup Haynesworth and Coach Washburn would create for opposing offenses, but will the Eagles take a risk on him? His massive contract will be a big deterrent, but if the Redskins finally decide they've had enough and release him, expect the Eagles to at least kick the tires.
Should Brodrick Bunkley depart Philadelphia via a trade, the Colts' Antonio Johnson could be a quality pickup to replace him. After losing his starting job to Fili Moala, Johnson could very well be headed for free agency this offseason. His 6'3" 310 pound frame would certainly give a nice size boost to the Eagles line, plus he has a history of knee injuries. I'm sure Andy's already on the phone with Howie Roseman talking about this guy.