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Andy Reid has struggled historically to draft quality linebackers. He’s never picked one in the first round, and the three that he’s selected in the second round (Barry Gardner, Quinton Caver and Matt McCoy) haven’t panned out.
Reid prefers to spend a draft pick on a guy in the mid-to-late rounds and hope that he pans out. He will probably do that again in the 2012 NFL draft, but it’s also time for the Philadelphia Eagles to sign a free-agent linebacker. Reid recognizes that his job is likely on the line if he doesn’t turn the team around this season, and with the Eagles needing to win now, the best bet is to go for a proven veteran.
Stephen Tulloch is a 27-year-old middle linebacker coming off a strong season for the Detroit Lions. He's a young, experienced tackling machine that can give the Eagles five productive years. Best yet, Tulloch played in the wide-nine defense in Detroit, so he has experience with what the Eagles run. This defense places extra pressure on the linebackers, and Tulloch was stellar in his role in the middle of the field.
Casey Matthews struggled mightily as the team’s middle linebacker early on, and Jamar Chaney wasn’t much better when he took over after Matthews got benched. The Eagles likely don’t have the linebacker of their future on the current roster, but Tulloch in free agency is their best bet.