|Yes, Please, Very Much Of This|
Today, my Eagles inked three solid gambles, all on the defensive side of the ball, where the tire fire was at its worst. The newest members of the team are former Texans LB Connor Barwin, former Giants S Kenny Phillips, and former Ravens CB Cary Williams.
Barwin got the most money, but all of these combined don't hamstring the club or break the bank. I really love the Williams deal, in that he's clearly better at his job than either Nnamdi Asomugha or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the two retainable options, and while he's not the pure ballhawk you might dream of, he's solid in all factors of the game, and certainly has some experience at being on a team that overcame adversity last year -- this is a solid signing, and one that should work out for a few years. Barwin is the closest to a big name thanks to some double-digit sack years, and the idea that the team is actually going to have a linebacker who can blitz without looking like a 15-year-old boy getting the green light for second base makes me giddy. Philips was on the field when the Giants took down a title, and while he's injury-prone, he's also the only safety on the roster with size, athleticism, and the experience of being on a unit that wasn't historically awful.
More importantly, all of these guys are (a) below 30 with what appears to be tread on the tires, (b) from units that were well-coached and frequently physical, and (c) grade out as some of the best players on their team, rather than a guy who rode the coattails of their teammates. There's actually hope now that this could be a league-average secondary next year, and that the offense isn't going to have to be a pinball machine to keep games in reach. They still desperately need to crush the upcoming NFL draft, because these guys are depth plays and solid citizens, rather than truly explosive talents with Pro Bowls in their future. But that's not what you should expect out of free agency.
Next up, one suspects, is offensive line help, and I wouldn't say no to another corner or three; the Asomugha Abomination not only left the team high and dry there, but also without any idea if the back ups could play, since the old regime trotted him out there long after everything was lost. They also still need LBs, mostly because I'm really not seeing anything useful coming out of spent DE Trent Cole, and if nothing else, a bunch of swarming LBs might give the them their first strong coverage units in special teams in forever.
But after two days of free agency, the new regime hasn't done anything I disagree with, and they've made the defense the priority that it needed to be. There's something great about feeling eye to eye with a front office again, after the wipeout days of firefighting ancient rookies, a parade of linebacker tweeners, and safetys that were anything but safe. Keep this up long enough, and the next problem will be putting the toothpaste of unreal expectations back into the tube.