Eagles Wake-Up Call: What’s Next For Birds?

The first few hours of the free agency period were relatively quiet for the Eagles, but then the team added five players: tight end James Casey, nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga, cornerback Bradley Fletcher, safety Patrick Chung and linebacker Jason Phillips.

None of the five has been a Pro Bowl player, and the names were unknown to many in the Philadelphia area before Tuesday night. But they did fill some needs: (potential) starting cornerback, nose tackle, competition at safety, another weapon on offense and special teams help.

So, where do the Birds go from here? Three areas to keep an eye on…

Offensive line – The Eagles were linked to Jake Long, but the four-time Pro Bowler will take a physical with the Rams Wednesday and could sign there, according to Albert Breer of NFL Network. Eric Winston doesn’t have a team yet either, although he reportedly visited with the Chargers over the weekend.

Even if the Eagles don’t end up with either player, the fact that they showed interest means they’ve strongly considered the possibility of moving Todd Herremans back inside to guard. That’s something to keep in mind in April – the possibility of drafting a tackle in the first or second round seems very real.

Defensive line – The name to watch is Ricky Jean-Francois. The Eagles have already added Sopoaga from the 49ers, and now Tom Gamble will try to land Jean-Francois, who’s visiting with the team on Wednesday. If he signs, suddenly the Eagles have the framework for a 3-4 with Fletcher Cox, Sopoaga and Jean-Francois. Don’t sleep on outside linebacker either. The Eagles could be in the market for someone with a versatile skill set there too. Connor Barwin and Victor Butler are still available.

Secondary – You don’t think the Eagles are done here, do you? They could definitely add another starting cornerback and safety. Derek Cox, Keenan Lewis and Antonie Cason are corners still on the market. The Eagles don’t appear to be in the mix for Sean Smith anymore.

At safety, they are reportedly not interested in LaRon Landry. Glover Quin and Louis Delmas are still out there though.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Can Chung be the Eagles’ answer at safety?

Here’s the back story on Fletcher, who projects as a starting cornerback.

A look at what Sopoaga and Phillips bring to the table.

How will Chip Kelly use Casey?

The free agency tracker looks at who’s been signed, who’s going elsewhere and available targets.

The Eagles are not going in on Darrelle Revis, Dashon Goldson or Smith.

The team finally released Nnamdi Asomugha.

How would Jake Long fit?

Quintin Mikell wouldn’t mind returning to Philadelphia.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano takes a look at the Eagles’ signings on defense:

The Eagles are a team with more than $40 million in cap room, so there’s no reason to think this is anything but the beginning of what they’ll do in free agency. None of it is eye-popping, but you’re starting to get a sense of what the new regime is looking for and what their priorities are. It’s entirely possible all of these guys will make an impact on the Eagles’ defense in 2013. Possible that only one of them will. But this Eagles defense is something that’s going to take a while to take shape. It’s only now beginning.

Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com on Fletcher:

Chip Kelly’s first free-agent acquisitions as Philadelphia Eagles coach came in a five-pack of underrated veterans. That’s a good thing. The Eagles quietly signed five solid veterans including safety Patrick Chung, tight end James Casey, and cornerback Bradley Fletcher. That’s Bradley Fletcher, not Fletcher Bradley as the team sent out in its press release and on Twitter. The former St. Louis Rams cornerback was our No. 56 free agent available overall, but he must not have great name recognition.

His name was repeated as Fletcher Bradley by no fewer than five other news outlets. Fletcher Bradley is the perfect symbol of this new, non-Dream Team Eagles squad.

COMING UP

I’m sure it’ll be another quiet day for the Birds…

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  • Richard Colton

    The Browns are winning free agency so far. Banner’s all in. Dream Team Midwest!!!!

    • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

      Dolphins are giving them a run for their money!

    • BlindChow

      Andy hasn’t been slacking, either…

    • JofreyRice

      Actually, I really like them getting Desmond Bryant. He was easily the most talented Dlineman in Free agency and they got him for a little more than 2x the guaranteed money the Eagles guaranteed to Chung. The only issue for me was his arrest, but with how quickly he got scooped up, I guess a lot of GM’s didn’t think it was a big deal.

      I think they overpaid for Kruger. He’s got games where he looks like a great passrusher, and games where he looks like an average one. He’s really never very good against the run. It’s kinda weird to me that Banner is spending so much.

      • Richard Colton

        His mugshot isn’t just all-time NFL, it’s all-time all time

  • aub32

    Is Vollmer still available? I believe he is, at least while I’m typing this. I am surprised that he has not received as much buzz as Long or Winston. Also, I still would not be surprised at this point if the other piece added to the secondary is Revis. I read the post yesterday, but at this point the Eagles have been so good at misdirection with these sorts of things that I am open to anything, I just hope we keep our first pick for this and next year.

    • ICDogg

      Vollmer is still out there.

  • Absecon

    Sheil, I wouldn’t be so quick to anoint Bradley Fletcher-Fletcher Bradley a starter…if you call him a starter, then you have to call Nate Allen a starter. They both have been starters that have had injuries and then were benched by the end of the season last year for poor play, and now they both will be in competition for a starting position with still unknown signings or draft picks….

    • Septhinox

      Nate Allen is a starter.

  • daryksr

    Glad to see everyone os so down on FA this year. Lest we forget how the Saints won their SB, or how we got to our last SB. But any team trying to spend money on FA always falls flat like the Dream Team did… people are ludicrous. Glad the Eagles fans finally got what they’ve been begging for, a 10 year purgatory of 8-8 play at best. Who knows, maybe we can do what the Lions couldnt do and go 2 years in a row with no wins.

  • daryksr

    I must be the only one who see’s all these moves for what they are. Fletcher iz no doubt the worst of the new stock, not to mention Chung, who was a starter on the worst pass d in the league, and a guy who couldnt crack the starting lineup on the 23rd ranked. Fletcher meanwhile, spent his entire career on the team that has been the absolute worst team in all of the nfl during that same timespan. What a joke these two moves are. And on top of it all, both of these clowns have serious injury questions in the past which just goes to show, its going to be business as usual when it comes to the decision makers making decisions.

  • daryksr

    Im going to start a side column on all of these links. It’s going to be about all of the teams in the nfl that actually play an enjoyable brand of football such as the 49ers, Redskins, Seahawks, Giants… Meanwhile, Sheil and Tim can continue with the spin machine.

    • laeagle

      Please go away. if you are accusing this site of being a spin machine, you have no freaking clue what you’re talking about, and would save us all a lot of trouble by not posting 20 variations on the same theme.

      • daryksr

        LMAO, dude get a clue. Thats why they ran the article in which the 2 down NT who is expected to play all of 30% of the total defensive snaps is talking about how the Eagles plan to dominate. Itz very easy to see this site for what it is. An alternative to people who get tired of the constant negative comments on philly dot com, and the constant spin of Dave Spadaro on the Eagles official site. Spin however, is still spin. Why is it that no one decided that maybe they should tell this big guy that you should probably keep your mouth shut about this team doing anything before it actually has. Not hard to bring up the bad memories of the last two seasons and all of the tough talk that came with them.

        • laeagle

          No, it’s relatively objective analysis of the Eagles moves, without an agenda to say they’re super awesome or super terrible. You’re coming from a standpoint that everything they do is bad. And if people don’t agree with your viewpoint, they have an “agenda” or are “biased”. No. They just don’t look at everything through glasses made of feces like you do. If you think the analysis is so biased, you can join the wonderful communities at sites like philly.com and gcobb.com. Have fun. Over here, we’ll continue to look objectively at the team without the immediate assumption that everything they do is wrong, just because it is.

          Or at least, if you stick around, please make your point once and move on. We don’t need 20 posts on the same topic that all spew different versions of the same bile.

  • ICDogg

    The Eagles are clearly not going to be running the “4-3 Under” primarily. At least that is not the approach they have taken.

    They might be putting together a defense similar in style to what New England uses.

  • daryksr

    Honestly, the main thing im upset with the most is that for whatever reason, the team has Zero interest in Laron Landry who alone will single handedly change the image of the team from soft to one of a very physical team with his presence alone. That combined with removing the wart that DRC and NonD left, and replacing them with a cb who cant seem to stay on the field ( injuries, poor play ) and “upgrading” our safety depth with a player who appears to be no better than the players who are currently on the roster. Somehow the fans are supposed to confuse this with winning the offseason and salary cap SB. Good job with all the reporting Sheil. Glad to see no one here is even slightly confussed by what this FO is actually thinking. And to think, they actually expect that fans will really pay moee to come and see this crap. This all still begs the question, why did we bring back Vick if we just want to tank the season… but then again, I guess I answered my own question.

    • Token

      Landry is not very good. Chung is here because he went to Oregon. Hes just competing for a job. Their plan may be to get two safeties in this rich draft which is the best option. Get Lewis to fill other CB spot. Add a tackle. Then see what happens in the draft. None of these FA safeties are studs.

  • daryksr

    Something tells me that Florida State, Michigan, Georgia or Florida will be where Chip Kelly will be taking his services after week 14 or there about. This disaster willonly get worse before it gets better.

  • http://twitter.com/corry_k Corry Henry

    I like the way the free agency class is shaping up so far. They haven’t over paid and they’re landing a bunch of guys that are going to have to come in and compete for a starting job. Other than Sopoaga, these guys are also relatively young with something to prove. I also like that the contracts seem to be for no longer than 3 years. If they flop, they can be gotten rid of with little to no financial consequences.

    I’m expecting to see more of this as FA continues.

  • Absecon

    I’m fine with the three additions outside the secondary, but will hold judgment on the secondary additions till the signing period and draft have played out. At this point, the two secondary signings are what they are, and to me that is clearly not intended to be the finishing touches for next year! I will have faith in that belief until the spring camp season gets under way and these DB’s are the only improvements we can look forward to for the “rebuilt” secondary. Then I’ll criticize. But for now, it helps to have a few hobbies to pass the time…wait we must….

    • ICDogg

      As we should have learned by now, there are no sure things in free agency. The Eagles seem to know exactly what they are looking for and are signing a bunch of these guys in free agency before anyone else does. They will compete for starting roles, some will work, others will shake out. The ones that don’t work out for us won’t be a big enough investment to hold the team back from signing more guys.

      FWIW I don’t think we are done signing secondary guys. But the corners are asking for too much money right now and all of the teams are staying away from them so far (with the exception of the guy we signed and Toler, who the Browns signed, another minor guy.)

  • daryksr

    Seems like we went out and got Trevard Lindley 2.0, and Kurt Cole 2.0. Somehow a vuy getting benched for 3 p.i calls in one game accounts to a value added pick up. Didnt we just release someone who had did the same thing? Maybe that’s why they were really trying to keep him, but had to realize the fan backlash would have been too incredibly hostile for it to really even be an option.

  • ICDogg

    To some extent it’s a numbers game. More players with good upsides = more chances to succeed.

    • daryksr

      How do you say more players with good upside when both Fletcher and Chung have been trending downwards with their careers. No one that has been signed should be penciled in to start, and quite frankly, if the talent level was anywhere that it SHOULD be, neither would be a lock to even crack the 53 man roster. But hey, the media isnt crucifying the FO for the pick ups so the must be decent.

      • ICDogg

        Good upside = they are good when at their best, and they are still young.

      • GoBirds1

        You seem to forget that some of our starters are not even good back ups. and our backups should not be in the league Matthews and Marsh come to mind.

  • JoeChristmas

    Any chance we go after restricted free agent Donario Alexander? I’m hoping the Amendola rumor was bunk, the last thing we need is another pygmy wideout. The Chargers put a low round tender on Alexander, could be had at a bargain.

    • ICDogg

      Pretty sure the Eagles are not interested in Amendola.

  • ICDogg

    Read this Mike Tanier article explaining what the Eagles are doing

    http://miketanier.sportsonearthblog.com/free-agency-week-1-ticker/

    Let’s jump to the most important (summary) passage:
    ——————————–
    The Eagles were 4-12 last year and have a new coach. This is what teams do in that situation. They overhaul the entire roster, and the new regime brings in new guys, even (or especially) in roles like “move tight end” or “compete for starting safety job.” This is not a gingerbread repair. It’s a gutting.

    • JofreyRice

      I’ve been saying this all along, yet people have disagreed with me. This roster is lacking talent in a lot of areas. They need a gutting. The only positional group I’m comfortable with is RB. Literally, every other position group needs to be addressed with starters or quality depth, because of the horrible drafting and ill-advised free agent acquisitions since 2010.

  • CJ

    If anyone truly thought this team would go all out and buy a dream team again in Kelly’s first season, then of course they’re disappointed. Delusional too, I might add. That wasn’t going to happen. They have a ton of needs, and spending top dollar to fill one or two at the expense of another dozen is ludicrous. If they could get a good deal, they’d have made bigger moves, and they still may. But for those that are critical, really, who did you want in an FA class where Mike freaking Wallace was almost universally considered the top FA available? Doesn’t that tell you all you need to know about this class?

    I’d have liked Cook, but his price was too high, and Casey gives you much of the same flexibility (albeit less talent), at a fraction of the price. He was also an underused piece in an offense with Foster, Johnson, Tate, and Daniels, so he does have a high ceiling. I liked him in the draft a few years back, he projects as a Chris Cooley in his prime type guy. Not a star, but a guy that can create mismatches and put up numbers.

    Fact is this team just got better, deeper, and didn’t lose any future flexibility if their calculated risks didn’t pan out. These are moneyball type moves: mostly high character, high ceiling guys that have had nothing handed to them and much to prove. There won’t be a 100% success rate here, the Eagles FO knows it and we as fans know it, but even if they hit on 3 or the 5 becoming solid contributors they’re doing fantastic, and I think that’s a safe bet.

    • JofreyRice

      Problem is, we don’t know if “moneyball” works in the NFL. It’s not the same one-to-one matchup that you get when you have one batter facing one pitcher, it’s a team thing.

      I don’t have that big a problem with the moves–Cook got way overpaid–but they didn’t even get the most talented of the “underrated” players, IMO. To pass on George Wilson to sign Chung just seems dumb, not shrewd. Wilson is the better player. The last safety we signed that couldn’t cut the mustard with Bill Belichik was Jarrad Page. And if you’re going with young players, why Sopoaga over Roy Miller or Terrance Knighton?

      • CJ

        Familiarity plays a role here too. Kelly knows Chung and Gamble knows Sopoaga. They come from winning cultures and that’s something they need to re-instill in this team. If Chung ends up starting and there’s not a NT brought in through the draft yours are all valid points. But if Chung’s brought in as a vet backup and ST ace and Sopoago’s brought in to help the DL learn the 3-4 and as a locker room voice, you weren’t going to get either from the names you just mentioned. This is just what happened on day 1, they’re not done yet.

        • JofreyRice

          Yeah, you could be right about that. I don’t hate either of those two players, I just think they could have done a little better. Hard not to panic about S, since it’s been such a thorn in the side of this team for going on 4 years now. Are you still OK with this move if the presumptive starters are Nate Allen and Chung, with maybe a 3rd rounder mixed in to compete? Trying not to overreact, but very anxious to see what happens.

          • CJ

            I think you’ll either see them add another safety over the 7 days or they’ll take one a little sooner than the 3rd. If this is what they go into the draft with, I’d prefer they move back and target Vacarro, or hope Elam or one of those other next-tier safeties is there in the 2nd.

            If it’s this and someone like Rambo or Jefferson in the 3rd or later, oh yeah, I’m worried. It’s a numbers game too though. IMO Colt Anderson is the one safety 100% making this team right now (which is a huge indictment on the S position in general given this is for ST reasons). Chung probably will as well (maybe certainly depending on how the deal was structured). I don’t think this team is ready to give up on Coleman AND Allen, maybe not even either one just yet given the whole D was a wreck, they’re still young, and perhaps still salvageable in the eyes of the FO. Suffice to say, there may only be one more safety they can add to the mix. They better make it count.

          • GoBirds1

            One game of tape, any game, is enough to say good-bye to Coleman. Big heart, good intentions, but just cant cut it in the NFL.

  • Dpick

    Very pleased with the FA’s they are staying away from. DO NOT want Goldson, Sean Smith, or Delmas. Excited about Jake Long and Connor Barwin, if they can make it happen. FA is going better for the Birds than I originally thought. Young guys with short-term contracts at need positions. This sets up their draft strategy.

    • ICDogg

      I don’t think they are that interested in Long. Volmer seems more on the radar.

  • Bob A

    You can tell that Kelly has very specific ideas about what he wants in a football player, he doesn’t just throw something at the wall and hope it sticks like Reid did with Nnamdi, just because he always was OK with Oakland. They have a veteran safety who played at Oregon that Kelly knows and trusts, a CB who did nothing flashy other than hold opposing QBs to a 55 QB rating , a TE who is made for a spread offense, a NT that is ready for the 3-4 , and a special teams ace for a team that only had 1 decent special team guy (Anderson).Good job, let’s see what else they do.

  • Tanner

    These pick-ups are sure tackling, good attitude, low cost players who wanna prove themselves.

    Fletcher played very well last year, but he got pushed out by Finnigan who just got signed, and Jenkins, who was their future at that position. He seemed to have recovered from his 2011 injury without losing a step.

    Chung is known as a hard hitter, and a great run stopper.

    Sopoaga is a great leader with extensive 3-4 experience. And will give us a voice for our d-line.

    Phillips is a great addition to special teams, giving us a 2nd ace.

    Casey gives us more flexability for dual TE packages and mismatches for a new fast pace offense.

    Only Sopoaga is over 30, and this is a core group that will increase the toughness mentality of this team for the next few years, which we all know has been lacking.

  • Token

    Ok….dude. ive seen enough of Landry to know what kind of player he is. Pro bowl means nothing.

  • daryksr

    Well what I do know is that Patrick Chung couldn’t carry Landry’s water.