Geoff Mosher of Delaware’s News Journal reported that the Philadelphia Eagles are interested in Carolina linebacker Dan Connor. First, here is an excerpt from Mosher’s report:
Several league sources confirmed the team’s interest in the former Penn State All-American, who just finished his fourth season in Carolina, although the degree of interest remains unclear.
At least two sources close to the situation believe Connor, a native of the Delaware County suburb of Wallingford, Pa., is high on the Eagles’ wish list. But one source with direct knowledge of the Eagles’ offseason plans indicated that Connor isn’t their top choice and suggested that it’s less likely to happen, although he did acknowledge that Connor, 26, is someone the team has sought in the past.
All sources interviewed confirmed that the Eagles were interested enough in Connor last August to approach the Panthers about a trade, but Carolina’s uncertainty regarding the health of Pro Bowl middle linebacker Jon Beason made the Panthers reluctant to pull the trigger.
Just the other day, I wrote about how I didn’t think the Eagles would pursue a top middle linebacker in free agency in light of the recent contract extension signed by Cleveland’s D’Qwell Jackson.
If this report by Mosher is correct, then it appears that will be exactly the case…the Eagles will “fix” the middle linebacker problem by signing a lesser-skilled player for a bargain basement price.
Basically, the Eagles need a new car to drive their defense. They prefer to shop at Deals On Wheels rather than peruse the dealership showroom floor. Hell, they don’t even like to look at the certified pre-owned vehicles.
This is why they end up with so many lemons!
But alas, this is par for the course as far as how the Eagles address the linebacker position. After seeing the D’Qwell Jackson contract, I lost all hope for acquiring either Stephen Tulloch or Curtis Lofton.
Of course, this is just a report of the Eagles being interested in a player and it doesn’t mean that Connor will be an Eagle come March 13th. However, it does fit the Eagles’ M.O. as to how they operate.
So, with all my griping out of the way, let’s take a look at Dan Connor and see if he might be at least adequate, if unspectacular.
The main problem with Connor has been injuries, as he’s struggled with various nagging issues over his career. He stands at 6′ 2″, 231 lbs and was selected in the third round out of Penn State in the 2008 draft.
Connor’s stats are not particularly exciting either. Appearing in 42 games over four years he has accumulated 156 tackles, one pass defensed and one sack — that’s it. In other words, he has accomplished less in his entire career than London Fletcher did just last season alone.
Pro Football Focus listed their top 10 free agent inside linebackers available this offseason and Connor did not make the cut. As a matter of fact, PFF ranked Connor as the 26th best inside linebacker in 2011 — even behind Joe Mays, remember him?
However, the news isn’t all bad.
Even though PFF has Connor ranked relatively low, they do show him as having 33 “stops”, which in their terms is when a defensive player gets credit for causing an “offensive failure.” For example, the situation is 3rd and three and the player makes the tackle for only a two-yard gain.
This means that, at least, Connor has the ability to make some critical plays from the MLB position.
Also, Philadelphia area and NFL analyst Adam Caplan gave a few quick thoughts on Connor yesterday when asked about him via twitter. Caplan stated that Connor was a “talented, physical, smart MLB” but is a “2-down LB in the eyes of many.”
At least that’s a little more positive, with the exception of him being seen as a 2-down player. We already have enough of them, we need a guy that will be in there for every play.
With all that said, allow me to point out what is perhaps the most important part of that report from Geoff Mosher, in case you just glazed over the quote from above:
“But one source with direct knowledge of the Eagles’ offseason plans indicated that Connor isn’t their top choice and suggested that it’s less likely to happen”
While that is a hopeful sign that Connor isn’t truly their top choice, given the Eagles’ history with linebackers I’m more apt to believe that this is much more likely to happen over them acquiring the likes of Tulloch, Lofton, or even David Hawthorne — all of which will be more pricey than the blue light special Connor.
I see London Fletcher as a decent possibility but he really wants to stay in Washington.
In the end, Dan Connor is not a bad player and would be an upgrade over what we currently have on the roster for middle linebackers. However, I’m tired of having “not a bad player” be the most positive thing I can say about an Eagles linebacker.