The Philadelphia Eagles' signing of former Miami Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll in free agency this offseason didn't generate a lot of hype. Carroll was inked to a two-year, $5.25 million contract just an hour or so after the Eagles traded for veteran offensive weapon Darren Sproles.
Carroll, a four-year veteran who has recorded 26 career starts in 58 games, started to make an impression on reporters during the Eagles spring practices. Despite not being able to play press Carroll stood out with a few interceptions and a number of passes defensed. So far, Carroll has been able to carry that same intensity into training camp. Only now, Carroll is allowed to be more physical against the receivers he's facing. It's easy to see why defensive coordinator Bill Davis is excited about his new defensive back.
"He's a very well-rounded talent," Davis said of Carroll. "He's got size, he's got length, he's got speed. He's a real tenacious competitor. I love his attitude out there the way he presses and competes and puts his hands on people, and he's got a good knack for the ball. I think he's a good asset to us. He's a great addition and we looked forward to seeing him in camp and how he fits into our system."
While the Eagles are returning both outside starting cornerbacks from 2013 -- Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams -- Carroll is right in the mix. He may not be spending time with the first team in training camp just yet, but his impressive play is hard to ignore. Despite the competition, Carroll said it doesn't affect his relationship with his teammates.
"We're cool. We work out together, we're out here on the field together. There's nothing against them," Carroll explained. We're trying to make each other better. So I'm not trying to do anything to mess them up, they're not trying to do anything to mess me up. If anything we're trying to help each other get better."
Speaking of teammates, Eagles cornerback Cary Williams spoke very positively of Carroll when asked about him.
"Nolan Carroll has brought a lot," Williams admitted. "He's a veteran guy that's played in several games. He's a guy that's going to sit down there and get in your face and be physical at the line of scrimmage. That's what we want here. I think he's a great addition. He's going to come out and compete for a job. That's all you can ask for. He's coming in doing everything we ask for and more. We expect big things out of him this season. It's going to be great. It's going to be fun to watch the defensive side of the ball.
Even if Carroll is unable to win a starting job, it's quite possible he's in the team's future plans. Bradley Fletcher is an unrestricted free agent after the 2014 season and Williams is due a salary increase that could cause him to be a cap casualty. Carroll is signed through the end of 2015.
In the meantime, Carroll also figures to be a good special teams player. Not only does he have some ability as a returner but he's experienced in coverage. Head coach Chip Kelly had very high praise for Carroll's special teams ability.
"We had him targeted very early as a guy we wanted to bring into this organization," Kelly explained. I think he's got the requisite length that we are looking for at the corner spot, especially as an outside corner. He's an outstanding special teams player, been one of the top gunners in the league and obviously improvement in special teams was a big thing for us. Love his competitive makeup."
So far, so good for Carroll. Now it'll be interesting to see if anything comes of this offseason hype.