Now that the draft is over, we have a better idea of the remaining holes in the Eagles roster. Once free agency eventually begins it will most likely happen under the 2010 rules. At this point I’m anticipating that the owners will not win their appeal and the league will open for business before they reach a new CBA. So, assuming this will be the case, that means the free agent pool will be limited to players whose contracts have expired and have completed at least 6 years of service. Unfortunately, that significantly reduces the quantity and quality of available players to choose from.
The Eagles adequately addressed the offensive line, linebacker, safety, and kicker in the draft. In my opinion, they still need to address cornerback and defensive line if we hope to see a marked improvement in our overall defensive play. An almost entirely new defensive coaching staff may make a big difference but I still think we need to add some talent. With that said, here are the few free agents that meet the 6 year requirement and would actually be an upgrade over players currently on the roster…
CB Nnamdi Asomugha (Oakland): If you haven’t heard his name mentioned as an Eagle target since the end of the season then you must not be living on planet earth! He is the Holy Grail among Eagles fans and everyone believes he will be our #1 target. It makes a ton of sense, especially if we plan on “going for it” this year. The only problem I can foresee is that he’s going to be 30 in July and that’s a magical number in Eagle Land. Will they dole out big money to a player at this stage of his career? I believe they would but whether or not they’ll dole out the most money is another question.
CB Carlos Rogers (Washington): Another CB who will turn 30 in July. He is a solid starting CB and would cost much less than Asomugha. The knock against him is his lack of interceptions (bad hands) as he only has 8 in his 7 year career. But he does excel in coverage and has been credited with 76 passes defensed. I believe he would be a solid, if unspectacular addition to our defense. He’s certainly better than what we currently have.
DE/DT Cullen Jenkins (Green Bay): He played DE for the Packers but at 6′ 2″ 305 lbs he would most likely play DT with the Eagles. Jenkins is a good pass rusher and solid player but has struggled with injuries in the past few years. He’s 30 years old and will most likely be a highly sought-after player in free agency. He would be a good, but risky signing. Since his experience is at DE in a 3-4 scheme, he’ll most likely be courted quickly by other 3-4 style teams but is considered to be scheme diverse.
DE Jason Babin (Tennessee): He has been somewhat of late bloomer in his career. The former 1st round pick has spent the last 5 seasons with 5 different teams, including the Eagles in 2009. After the 2009 season, there were some rumbles from Eagles players about certain defensive team members not being team players and complaining in the lockerroom about not getting their numbers due to the way the defense was being coached. Though he wasn’t named, many believed Babin was one of the “selfish” players. With that said, Babin has already gone on record as “loving” Jim Washburn and wanting to come back to Philly just to play for him. If he can duplicate his 12.5 sacks from last year, he would be a welcome addition.
That’s it folks, the cupboard is bare. There are a few players I didn’t mention that would be debatable as to whether or not they’d be an upgrade…such as Gerrard Warren (New England) and Aubrayo Franklin (San Fran)…but they are also nose tackles in 3-4 defensive schemes that don’t seem to be a good fit for us. Ike Taylor from Pittsburgh will be available but I just don’t see the Eagles pursuing him.
The lack of a CBA is killing teams’ chances at signing younger and better free agents. On the flip side, it’s also allowing teams to retain these players at cheaper rates through RFA tenders. There would be many more players to choose from if things were “normal”, aka – we had a CBA in place that required 4 years of completed service to be eligible for free agency. But until then this is what we’re left with, a free agent market that’s as dry as a sand sandwich on burnt toast.