Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wait, We're Actually Allowed To Trade For Linebackers?

Well, knock me over with a feather: after only a decade or so of treating the position like it was something to be found on the dock or carnie circuit, my football laundry actually went out and got themselves an honest to goodness linebacker, trading a fourth and swapping thirds with the Texans for 27-year-old DeMeco Ryans. Or a one-time second round pick from Alabama with a bit of size (6'-1" 247) and reputation for Not Sucking. You'll excuse Eagle Fan for dreaming of MLBs that don't suck.

It's clearly a bit of a sunk cost dump by the Texans, who also weren't overly thrilled with Ryans' work in the 3-4 last year, which caused him to leave the field for over 40% of the defense's snaps. For a guy who was due to make significant bank this year, that's not defensible, but in Philly, he'll be lucky to ever leave the field. So the cash isn't really that big of a concern.

On the merits, considering that we were all trying to get ourselves excited by the idea of an overpriced free agent -- and such was the quality of that group last year that I would still welcome it, if only to have no eggs in the Brian Rolle / Casey Matthews Pile Of Meh -- this is just about the best news to hit town since the DeSean Jackson signing. (And yes, that was good news: they didn't let talent walk for nothing, and they didn't break the bank for him.) It's especially good news since the team routinely bones the kinds of pick they just moved to get a borderline sure thing. I'd much rather have a 28-year-old with 2-3 decent years ahead of him than a 22-year-old never-will-be (Moises Fokou, you make me want to mispronounce your last name), which more than adequately describes just about every LB drafted in the Reid Era.

Before we get too excited here, keep in mind that like most MLBs, there's no absolute rule that Ryans is going to do more than help the defense resemble a professional outfit. He's got all of 8.5 sacks in his career, 2 picks and 6 forced fumbles, which says more professional than explosive. If you were looking for the new Bart Scott or Ray Lewis, look away. But it's not as if there are a lot of MLBs who get more than that. It's just nice to know that, barring injury, we actually know who is going to start at that position for once, for more than a few games at a time.

As for Ryans, it all comes down to health, but can't we say that about everyone in the NFL? He gets to be a true MLB here, won't make more than $6.5 million in non-guaranteed money, and immediately becomes the best LB on the roster, which is a nicer way of saying he might be the only LB on the roster. He might even, be still my trembling heart, give them someone who can defend a pass-catching TE. WOW.

It's unlikely that he'll be a total savior, but it's also unlikely that he'll stink on ice, either. And while they still need 1-2 more guys for that unit and/or a lot of luck and development from the holdover scrubs, at least they might lose in a slightly less maddening way next year.

And at this point on the Reid Era, can we really hope for anything more?

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