When the free agency period began yesterday at four o’clock Eastern time, many expected the Philadelphia Eagles to play a major part in the spending frenzy that occurs on the virtual “new years day” of the 2013-2014 NFL season. Philadelphia was not as active as some had surmised, yet General Manager Howie Roseman alongside Tom Gamble addressed many needs of the team without over spending. Furthermore, Philadelphia still has the cap room to splash the cash should they desire, and with top free agents still on the market like New England’s Sebastian Vollmer, and former 49ers safety Dashon Goldson, the Eagles are not done making a splash in the free agent pool.
The Eagles added needed depth across the board yesterday while utilizing the strategy Tom Gamble brought with him from San Francisco. While in the bay area, Gamble promoted team depth and role players before over-paying for overrated talent on the market. San Francisco has won the NFC West consecutive years, so Philadelphia had a lot to learn from Mr. Gamble. Yet yesterday, the “Gamble” appeared to pay off as Philadelphia began building for their future by signing multiple young building-block style players.
Starting first with the largest signing of the day, Isaac Sopoaga from San Francisco will be a physical presence up front all season long. Sopoaga all but confirms the expected shift on Philadelphia’s defense from base 4-3 to a 3-4 set. Sopoaga was a dominating nose tackle for the 49ers, and signed a 3 year deal worth $12 million with five of those millions guaranteed. Sopoaga was a brilliant signing regarding player potential, but even better because he came at such a bargain. Philadelphia is also expected to sign former 49ers defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois later today, which would leave the heart of the Eagles front seven set with Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, Sopoaga, Fletcher Cox and then Jean-Francois himself. Sopoaga and RJF would added much needed stability to the run defense, and provide a base for Philadelphia’s weak secondary to lean on. The Eagles ranked just 23rd in the league last year regarding rushing yards per game given up with 126.3. Chip Kelly‘s new signings matched with a scheme change should go a long way to fixing their run stopping woes.
Philadelphia wasn’t done just yet as Howie Roseman pulled the trigger on three additional signings on defense yesterday, former Patriots safety Patrick Chung, former Ravens linebacker (do they have any left?) Jason Phillips, and former Rams’ corner, Bradley Fletcher. Chung signed a three year deal, while Phillips and Fletcher inked two year contracts. Phillips will likely be a major player in regards to special teams, as Philadelphia’s front seven would be all but set with the expected signing of RJF today. Chung will certainly expect to compete for a starting spot at the safety position, but he was a major player on the special teams side of the ball with the Patriots. Bradley Fletcher may be the most intriguing of all of the Eagle’s signings of yesterday, because he is a young athletic talent with much potential. It is unclear why Fletcher fell out of favor with former coach Jeff Fischer, but Fletcher will compete for a major role in the secondary, which was drastically depleted after Philadelphia released underwhelming corner Nnamdi Asomugha just prior to free agency yesterday, clearing about $11.3 million in cap space, in addition to losing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to free agency.
Howie Roseman also addressed the Eagles need at tight end yesterday, signing former Texans TE-FB James Casey to a three year deal worth $14.5 million. With the Texans, last season, Casey had 330 yards receiving with three touchdowns while going 28-34 receiving. Casey will add depth to the TE and fullback positions for the Eagles, and will spend time alongside current Eagles starter Brent Celek in run-friendly packages.
Philadelphia GM Howie Roseman was shrewd yesterday in his decision making, and most importantly, left enough cap room on the table to still sign a marquee free agent or two. Notables still on the market that Philadelphia is rumored to be chasing include Patriots tackle Sebastian Vollmer, Bengals tackle Andre Smith, former Rams receiver Danny Amendola, former 49ers safety Dashon Goldson, former Ravens safety Ed Reed, and former Jets safety LaRon Landry. Whatever Howie Roseman decides to do next in this free agency period, know that he has the cash to do it, and the brainpower of personnel genius Tom Gamble guiding him along the way.Tags: Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Graham, Chip Kelly, Dashon Goldson, Fletcher Cox, free agency, Howie Roseman, Isaac Sopoaga, James Casey, Jason Phillips, NFL, Patrick Chung, Philadelphia Eagles, Ricky Jean-Francois, Sebastian Vollmer, Tom Gamble, Trent Cole