NFL Free Agency: 5 Best Free-Agent Signings in Philadelphia Eagles History

Alexander OnushcoContributor IIIMarch 11, 2012

NFL Free Agency: 5 Best Free-Agent Signings in Philadelphia Eagles History

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    The 2012 NFL Free Agency is about to begin, and to kick it off I would like to take a look at previous signings by the Philadelphia Eagles that were worth every penny.

    Granted, the Eagles have had their fair share of free-agent signings they would much rather forget, but the team has also hit on many as well.  That may be hard to believe after witnessing what happened when the team went all out in free agency in 2011.

    Regardless, there are quite a few Eagles who made their mark on the team after being signed in free agency.  So sit back and relax as I recount some of the best signings in team history.

Darwin Walker, DT

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    Despite playing for the Eagles through the 2006 season, it may not be surprising if most fans do not remember Darwin Walker.  If they don't, then they should read up on him.

    Walker was picked up by the Eagles after being let go by the Arizona Cardinals as a rookie during the 2000 season.  He spent the next season riding the pine, but was named a starter entering the 2002 season, where he proceeded to generate 7.5 sacks.  

    Total, Walker combined for 160 tackles and 26.5 sacks during his five seasons as a starter in Philadelphia.  

    The No. 5 spot on this list is up for grabs and could be held by a number of other Eagles players, but Walker is worthy of making this list.

Asante Samuel, Cornerback

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    Asante Samuel makes this list after playing four seasons with the Eagles and establishing a reputation as being the league's premier ball hawk. 

    Drafted in the fourth round by the New England Patriots in 2003, Samuel hit free agency following the 2007 season.  He couldn't have been a free agent longer than a few hours before reports started popping up that Samuel had set up a meeting with the Eagles.  Soon after, it was reported that No. 22 had signed a six-year contract worth $56 million.  

    He may not always be the most willing tackler, but when it comes to making plays on the football, Samuel is one of the best.

David Akers, Kicker

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    It is amazing how many teams passed up on David Akers.  After coming into the league in 1997, Akers was turned down by both the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers.  He eventually signed with the Washington Redskins in 1998, but only played in one game and was waived during the 1999 season.

    That is when the Eagles swooped in and snatched him up.  Granted, he started his Eagles career over in Europe playing for the Berlin Thunder, but after one successful season there he was brought back home and named the starter for the Eagles during the 2000 season.

    And so began a prosperous 11 years.  During his tenure as an Eagle, Akers hit on 81.8 percent of all his field-goal attempts.  Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and Akers left to go play for the San Francisco 49ers following the 2010 season.

Jon Runyan, Tackle

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    Known for being one of the NFL's dirtiest, nastiest and toughest players during his career, Jon Runyan is more than deserving of making this list.

    His career as an Eagle began after playing four seasons with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans from 1996 to 1999.  Once here, he immediately cemented himself as a starter on the offensive line, and never gave up that role until 2009.  

    In fact, Runyan started and played in all 144 games as an Eagle, and did so at an extremely high level.  Perhaps that dedication and work ethic is what landed him his current job as an U.S. Representative.

Troy Vincent, Cornerback

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    After playing four seasons with the Miami Dolphins, Troy Vincent signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1996 and set forth on what would be an illustrious career wearing a midnight green uniform.

    No. 23 put up some stellar numbers during his eight-year tenure in Philadelphia.  During that span, he amassed 28 interceptions and cemented himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.  He was particularly dominant during a five-year stretch from 1999 to 2003, when he was named to five consecutive Pro Bowls.

    It can be argued whether or not Vincent was the Eagles' best cornerback ever, but there should be no debate about whether he deserves to be at the top of this list.  He does.