The Eagles said they had an aggressive plan when the free agency signing period began, and they followed through with that plan. Armed with ample salary cap space, they landed the most aggressive group of free agents in the league.
They dramatically upgraded a defense that gave up a franchise-record 31 touchdown passes and finished dead last in the league in the red zone, signing All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin and defensive tackle-end Cullen Jenkins. They also acquired cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from Arizona in the Kevin Kolb trade.
They improved an offensive line that gave up 49 sacks last season by signing right tackle Ryan Harris away from the Denver Broncos and added depth to the running back position by signing ex-Dolphin Ronnie Brown. They added depth to tight end with the addition of ex-Packer Donald Lee.
"We just tried to take advantage of the marketplace," Eagles owner Jeff Lurie said. "We thought there was a real potential for a buyer's marketplace.
"We were very well positioned salary-cap wise to take advantage of this very unique situation that occurred. We knew if we could be disciplined and have a strike area for each player that we focused on, and when the marketplace entered into that strike zone for that player, we became extremely aggressive and tried to be creative."
Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie join a secondary that already includes the league's best ballhawk, four-time Pro Bowler Asante Samuel, who has an NFL-best 36 interceptions over the last five years. Whether all three will get an opportunity to play together this season remains to be seen.
The Eagles have said they are keeping their options open with respect to the possibility of trading Samuel, has been with the Eagles three years.
Why would they even consider trading him? Well, why he, Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie give the Eagles the best cornerback trio in the league, none have played in the slot. In addition, veteran Joselio Hanson already is a proven nickel corner.
"I want to be where I'm wanted," Samuel said. "If they're tired of my big-play-making ability, maybe they'll ship me off, or maybe they'll want to keep me. Who knows?"
Said Eagles president Joe Banner: "It may be the best thing for us to do to keep all three. Certainly, that's a phenomenal situation. Our cap situation and cash situation is as such that we can do that."
The Eagles' signing of Jenkins became even more significant this week when defensive tackle Mike Patterson collapsed during practice and had a seizure. A brain MRI revealed that Patterson has arteriovenous malformation, or AVR, which is tangled blood vessels in his skull. It's uncertain if and when Patterson will be able to play again.
Jenkins is a versatile lineman who can play both end and tackle. He had seven sacks last season, most of them coming at tackle in the Packers' nickel alignments. One of the problems with the Eagles' pass rush last season was an inability to get consistent inside penetration from their tackles.
Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.