Another Look At The Eagles’ Day One SigningsBREAKING NEWS, Eagles, General News, News Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
The Eagles were quiet when free agency opened up; at least for a little while. It was not until 8:30 PM that the Eagles made moves official and there was more reports than just “visits” from specific players. Here is a look at each of the five signings from the busy day one for the Eagles.
Bradley Fletcher, CB, 6’0 200 pounds – two-year deal
Fletcher spent his first four seasons in the league with the Rams playing in 43 games. At just 26 years old, Fletcher was among the young defensive backs on the market. Fletcher can play physically and has been known to be an effective blitzer. The Iowa grad’s best season came in 2010 when he totaled 75 tackles and added four interceptions. In 2012 Fletcher added his fifth career interception and the first two forced fumbles of his career.
Fletcher fills one of the big needs the Eagles needed to fill in free agency. With the release of Nnamdi Asomugha early Tuesday and the unlikelihood of a new deal for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Eagles entered the new league year with just Brandon Boykin, Brandon Hughes, and Curtis Marsh as the cornerbacks under contract for 2013.
Patrick Chung, S, 5’11 210 pounds – three-year deal
Chung is also entering his fifth season after spending his first four years in the league with the Patriots. He is another one of the younger players on the market at just 25 years old and has played in 50 games with the Pats. Chung is a physical safety who is not afraid to claim the middle of the field as his own and punish anyone who enters his territory. The Jamaican-born safety has seven career interceptions, three career sacks, and two blocked kicks in his four year career.
The Eagles current starters, Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, are special teams players at best. Chung is a legitimate starter in the NFL and will, by default, be the best safety the Eagles have had since Quintin Mikell (released by the Rams on Monday). There is an Oregon connection between Chung and Head Coach Chip Kelly; Kelly was only the offensive coordinator while Chung was there but a connection nonetheless. Patrick Chung can already be penciled in as the Eagles week one starter at safety.
James Casey, TE/FB/HB, 6’3 240 pounds – three-year deal
Casey was the first official signing for the Eagles 2013 free agency class. He is also the most intriguing. With the Texans for his first four years in the league, Casey was primarily used as an H-Back, running routes from the backfield and helping to block for Matt Schaub and Arian Foster. Casey’s first impressive year came in 2012 with 34 receptions for over 300 yards and 3 touchdown catches. He has only carried the ball twice so it is hard to define him as a fullback.
It will be interesting to see how Kelly will use the tight end as he has always been a fan of tight ends and uses them in a variety of ways. We could see a lot of tight ends heading into training camp, something that Kelly is no stranger to doing. This move still raises questions about Brent Celek, though. Is he expendable for the Eagles? If so, does he have any trade value before the draft? It will be exciting to see how Kelly decides to implement Casey into his offense.
Isaac Sopoaga, NT, 6’2 330 pounds – three-year deal
Sopoaga is the oldest of the five free agent signings at 31 years old. With eight year in the league, all with the 49ers, he has 125 career games under his extra-large sized belt. Sopoaga is a situational player having only played 395 out of 1257 snaps (31.4%) in the 15 games he played in 2012. He has never had more than 40 tackles or 1.5 sacks in a given season but he can still be a force and clog holes in the middle. The Hawaii grad and American Samoa native was a big factor in the 49ers Super Bowl run less than two months ago.
Sopoaga fills a need at nose tackle for the Eagles. Ricky Jean-Francois, a former teammate of Sopoaga’s and another Tom Gamble connection, is scheduled to meet with the Eagles tomorrow and it would be a surprise if he were to leave Philadelphia without a deal. Nose tackle is still an area for the Eagles to address unless they are hoping to condition a 31-year-old into making a transition from a situational to full-time player.
Jason Phillips, LB, 6’1 240 pounts – two-year deal
Phillips was a fifth round pick in 2009 by the Ravens and never made a huge impact. He was waived during the 2011 season but only stayed on the market for two days before the Panthers signed him. The 27-year-old has only played in 29 games in his four seasons in the NFL.
The Texas Christian graduate is likely a camp body. He will have to compete with other players to make the roster assuming the Eagles draft and sign a few more linebackers. Kelly said one of the reasons he liked the 3-4 defense was because it allowed to have more linebackers who can play special teams on the roster. Perhaps Phillips fits the special teams mold that Kelly and ST Coordinator Dave Fipp are looking for.
The Eagles didn’t sign any of the huge names like Dashon Goldson or Jake Long that have recently been linked to the teams. They did fill positions of need, though, less than five hours in to the league year. Obviously it is still very early but the Eagles defensive personnel already looks like an improvement of the 2012 squad. The release of Nnamdi Asomugha certainly helps that argument too. The team is far from done with free agency and more names will surface as the market thins and prices are set.
The new coaching staff did a good job on their first run at free agency. We’ll see what they have in store over the next few days and what it all means to the direction they head in April’s draft.
Follow Brenden on twitter @brendenp2011 for Eagles updates or email him at BPeddigree2011@gmail.com.
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