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2012 Philadelphia Eagles Free Agency Review

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May 22, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans (59) is interviewed after practice during organized team activities at the Philadelphia Eagles NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
May 22, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans (59) is interviewed after practice during organized team activities at the Philadelphia Eagles NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

This is the latest in a series we've be doing here on BGN written by John Breitenbach (@PFF_John), who is a big Eagles fan and best known for his work on Pro Football Focus. Check out the rest of the series here.

I'm taking a break from the film breakdown pieces to think more generally about this offseason and the moves the Eagles made. There was a pretty significant contrast between the focus this offseason and that in 2011, when the front office added a whole host of high priced free agents. This year it was more about extending incumbent players and just signing a few open market guys here and there for depth purposes. Time to break them down ...

Free Agent additions

OT Demetress Bell, Bills, 5 years for $35 million (1 year for $3.25 million)

Bell was one of the Bills worst players in 2009 and 2010. A seventh round pick in 2008 he really looked overmatched when he first entered the league. In only 24 starts he allowed nine sacks, 17 hits and 47 hurries, pretty terrible figures. Then 2011 came along and suddenly he looked like more than a viable starter. He was strong, athletic and consistent; three traits he'd barely shown in the past three years. It was a cruel blow therefore when he tore his meniscus and missed the last nine games of the year. The fact he's only played well in about seven games has to worry Eagles fans considering his poor form beforehand. It could be seen as a blessing in disguise however because it meant he was still available (and in the Eagles' price range) when Peters' suffered his injury. For just over three million on a one year "prove it deal", this looks like a steal.

Scheme fit - 7/10

Contract quality - 8/10

Much more after the jump

OG Mike Gibson, Seahawks, 2 years for $1.33 million

It's been an interesting road so far for Mike Gibson. After being drafted by the Eagles he spent a year on the practice squad before Seattle added him to their active roster in 2009. He got a little starting experience for the Seahawks, including in their 2010 playoff run. While he won't wow you he's a decent player who does his job the majority of the time. He tends to struggle a little in pass protection but will provide a nice option off the bench if he makes the team.

Scheme fit - 6/10

Contract quality - 6/10

S OJ Atogwe, Redskins, 1 year for $825,000

Everyone expected the Eagles to add a veteran safety this offseason and it was surprising it took as long as it did. In the end though I think the Eagles got the best of those they were interested in. The rumours circulated around Laron Landry but he's never played up to his ridiculous physical potential and wasn't worth the $3.5 million he received considering the injury risk. Yeremiah Bell was also a reported target but he's not as good a player as Atogwe especially in the pass-happy NFL. He also got $1.3 million guaranteed ... Atogwe is a good centerfield and a reliable tackler, both traits the Eagles could use.

Scheme fit - 7/10

Contract quality - 9/10

OC Steve Vallos, Browns, 1 year for $700,000

Much like Gibson, Vallos has bounced around a bit the past few years. He was with Seattle in 2009 and then Cleveland until the Eagles signed him this offseason. Clearly Mudd's got an eye for ability however and Vallos isn't your usual camp body. We'll see if he can make the team but if he doesn't then one of the young guys will be better and that's a good thing. A better run blocker than his is pass protector, Vallos is another valuable guy to have around, just in case.

Scheme fit - 6/10

Contract quality - 6/10

Free Agents returning

WR Desean Jackson, 5 years for $51 million ($15 million guaranteed)

The Eagles were the first team willing to take a risk on Jackson in the draft and Reid quickly formed a strong bond with the diminutive wide out. Looking back on it there was really no chance of Big Red parting with one of his favourite players, despite his off the field antics. Still Drew Rosenhaus seemed to agree that Desean is a flawed player, considering he got a relatively small amount of guaranteed money. I just find it hard to believe Jackson's going to improve in the areas he struggles (with dropped passes, poor route running and a virtually non-existent presence in the red zone). There's no denying he's a great fit for this offense however and will provide an important contribution in the next few years. His contract is more favourable than some of the other big name wide receivers from this offseason but that just reflects the fact he's a worse player.

Scheme fit - 9/10

Contract quality - 5/10

OG Evan Mathis, 5 years for $25 million ($7 million guaranteed)

There was major concern Mathis might sign with Baltimore this offseason but in the end the Eagles pulled out the cheque book for a guy well worth the money. Mathis is an expert technician who is virtually flawless in pass protection and wins almost all his battles in the run game. Whether it's sealing defensive tackles away from plays or getting to the second level to cut off LBs, Mathis can do it and do it well. It makes you appreciate just how good a contract this is when you compare it to guys like Carl Nicks (5 years for $47.5 million) or Ben Grubbs (5 years for $36 million). The latter got over twice as much guaranteed money as Mathis despite the fact he's not as good while Nicks got a ridiculous $31 million up front.

Scheme fit - 9/10

Contract quality - 9/10

OT King Dunlap, 1 year for $2.2 million max ($275,000 guaranteed)

I was surprised no one offered Dunlap a starting gig and even more so that he didn't get a better offer than this. After struggling as a rookie Dunlap has slowly developed into a good starter with the ceiling to be more than that. He performed well in 2011 when forced to fill in against the Bills and shutout John Abraham in 2010 when the Eagles met the Falcons. Dunlap even played well at guard against a team with one of the best duos of 3-4 DEs in Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett. Considering the versatility and quality he provides off the bench I'd describe this re-signing as a steal as well.

Scheme fit - 8/10

Contract quality - 8/10

DT Derek Landri, 1 year for $1.1 million ($500,000 guaranteed)

I'm astonished the Eagles tried to re-sign Trevor Laws before they approached Landri. I don't think I've seen a defensive tackle be as disruptive as Landri was in limited snaps last season. He lived in the opponents' backfield, making play after play against run or pass. Landri feels slighted no one offered him a starting gig this offseason and is out to prove 2011 was no fluke. If Patterson remains out into the season then the former Panther will almost certainly be given the opportunity to do just that. If the first preseason game is anything to go by that shouldn't be a problem and Landri will get the deal he so desperately wants next year.

Scheme fit - 10/10

Contract quality - 9/10

DT Antonio Dixon, RFA, 1 year for $1.927 million

The Eagles clearly wanted to keep Dixon around this offseason, tendering him at the second round level and then signing him to a one year deal. He remains a question mark however. The change to a 1-gap penetrating style has been difficult on Dixon who was such a good space eater in Sean McDermott's defense. He deserves a chance to prove himself but could easily be surpassed by second year player Cedcric Thornton who's seen as a better scheme fit. Anyone who watched him destroy Tennesee's front five knows he's an NFL calibre player; he just needs an environment that suits him. Dixon is a good trade candidate, seeing as the Eagles are stacked on the defensive line and have quality youth as well as veterans.

Scheme fit - 3/10

Contract quality - 5/10


The Texans traded the 88th overall pick (3rd) and Demeco Ryans to the Eagles for the 77th overall pick (3rd) and the 99th overall pick (4th)

Getting a good starting linebacker for a mere fourth round pick is a good deal. Ryans' leadership qualities had to be one of the main reasons for this trade, considering the Eagles were sorely lacking in that department last season. The linebackers and safeties were mainly young players who hadn't earned the respect of the rest of the team and were struggling just to hold down a starting gig. In terms of actual performance however it's surprising the Eagles went with Ryans over some of the other options, especially considering he's just a year removed from a nasty injury. Add in the fact Ryans is scheduled to make about $6 million a year for the next three seasons I think it's worth questioning whether he was the best man for the job. There's also no guarantee Ryans will adjust to a scheme that puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the linebackers. Both Curtis Lofton and Stephen Tulloch, a man who's proven in the Wide 9, entered free agency in 2011 and are making less than Ryans. Obviously the Lions and Saints got both players without giving up draft picks. I'm not saying Ryans isn't a good addition for the Eagles, he most certainly is, but I feel like his injury made him a worse option than a couple of other free agents.

Scheme fit - 6/10

Trade value - 7/10

The Colts traded the 172nd overall pick to the Eagles for Winston Justice and the 187th overall pick (6th)

Justice was a decent player for the Eagles for a few years but I think it's fair to say it was time to move on. Injury issues aside, Justice just didn't fit what Mudd wanted to do and both Dunlap and Herremans were better options. A good pass blocker, the Colts will be pleased with what they have if Justice holds down the right tackle position for them. The Eagles meanwhile, will be glad they got something back for a player who wasn't going to make the team.

Trade value - 6/10

The Falcons traded the 229th overall pick (7th) for Asante Samuel

Samuel was the Eagles' best CB last year. He didn't have the interceptions he normally does but he maintained a very impressive 47.5% completion percentage and QB rating allowed of just 52.4. That said, the front office sort of had to move him. They clearly want to see what Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie can do on the outside and they wouldn't be able to do that with Samuel here. It's a high risk move considering DRC's inconsistency but it could pay off in the long-term seeing as the former Cardinal is much younger. Still the Eagles should have been able to get more for a corner of Samuel's quality.

Trade value - 3/10

The Colts traded CB Kevin Thomas and a conditional 7th round pick for LBs Moise Fokou and Greg Lloyd

I don't see this as a great move for the Eagles. Fokou and Lloyd probably wouldn't have made the team, and they weren't great fits in the read and react system, but Thomas really struggled last year for the Colts and probably won't make the team either. If they do end up keeping him, it will probably be instead of a more talented player on the defensive line, which obviously isn't ideal. The Eagles do need depth at the position but soon it will be time to see what Curtis Marsh can do, good or bad. If there's one thing going for Thomas, it's that he fits the Todd Bowles mould of tall press-cover corners.

Scheme fit - 9/10

Trade value - 4/10

Overall this was a good free agency period for the Eagles. They made the best out of a bad situation by signing both King Dunlap and Demetress Bell to compete at the left tackle spot. They also added good depth to the interior of the O-Line with Vallos and Gibson. Atogwe is the veteran safety that can actually do a good job, unlike Jarrad Page and Sean Jones, if he has to fill-in. The return of Derek Landri and Evan Mathis ensures two of the 2011 Eagles' most effective players are back. Add in a quality starting middle linebacker and this team should be ready for a playoff run.

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