The Eagles were impressive in last year's free agency. Will they keep the same pace in 2012?
We’re just a breath away from the start of the 2012 free agency. There is still enough time for teams to re-sign players, but at this point, a lot of free agents are willing to test the market.
The Philadelphia Eagles have a talented roster and only a few holes on it; most notably at linebacker and safety. It remains a mystery whether they will try to address that via free agency, and if they’ll be able to attract the players they need after a mediocre season.
However, the Eagles won’t stay out of the game, since they are aiming high in 2012. The players on this list can be what the Eagles are looking for.
Stephen Tulloch is the dream signing for most Eagles' fans.
Everyone expected Stephen Tulloch to be in first place. The 27-year-old middle linebacker has been a solid player throughout his professional career and has played many games behind a wide-nine defensive line—the scheme that the Eagles use too.
Tulloch was signed on a one-year deal by the Detroit Lions and finished the 2011 NFL season with 111 tackles and three sacks. His six years of experience are also a great asset, especially if you have a young core of linebackers, like the Eagles do.
If Tulloch becomes a free agent, he’ll probably attract many suitors. The NFL draft offers a great number of promising linebackers, but Tulloch is a proven player with a commanding presence.
After a “cheap” contract with the Lions, he wants to get paid, and the Eagles will have to reach deep into their pockets to get him.
Curtis Lofton is a talented linebacker that had a great season in 2011.
The only real alternative if Tulloch signs elsewhere. Curtis Lofton is an efficient run-stopper and one of the best available in free agency. He is coming off his best NFL season, with 147 tackles, one sack and two interceptions (with one returned for a touchdown).
Lofton was the starting MLB for the Atlanta Falcons and played more than a thousand snaps in 2011. He was picked in the second round of the 2008 NFL draft. After four years in Atlanta, he is about to hit the free-agent market.
The Falcons appear to have accepted the fact that Lofton may go elsewhere and signed Lofa Tatupu as an insurance policy. Like Tulloch, Lofton will get the interest of numerous teams, and the Eagles need to bite hard to acquire his services.
The Bengals might regret not placing the franchise tag on R. Nelson.
Reggie Nelson is the best safety Philadelphia can sign from the free agency pool. Despite his subpar performance in the final two games of the regular season, Nelson was magnificent in 2011 and was a commanding presence in the Cincinnati Bengals backfield.
Despite losing Johnathan Joseph to the Houston Texans, the Bengals had a great defense last year, and Nelson was a big part of that. In 16 games, Nelson picked the ball four times and made 85 tackles, setting a new personal season-best. The former first-round pick is also a hard-hitter.
Although he was supposed to be Cincinnati’s top priority, Nelson was not placed under the franchise tag and the two sides have not agreed to a new deal. As a free agent, he won’t come cheap. He is not expected to sign for less than $5 million/year.
The Miami Dolphins are monitoring his situation and will probably go after him once free agency opens. That said, the Eagles will face competition for his signature.
B. Green-Ellis scored more than 10 touchdowns in each of the last two NFL seasons.
With Ronnie Brown not coming back, the Eagles will probably have to sign a free-agent running back to back up LeSean McCoy. Free agency offers some nice options, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis is one of the best ones.
The former New England Patriot is about to hit the free agency after four years in Foxborough. In 2011, he rushed for 667 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. The most notable statistic of his career is that he has not fumbled yet.
The Eagles can snatch him if they show some real interest. His demands likely won’t exceed the $2 to $2.2 million mark.
Ben Grubbs can replace Evan Mathis as the Eagles' left guard.
Evan Mathis will probably return to Philadelphia as the team’s starting left guard; however, you can never be sure about anything in free agency. If Mathis signs with another team, or the Eagles choose to go another direction, Ben Grubbs should be the one.
Grubbs played 10 games in 2011, but never missed one in the previous four years. He was picked by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft and became a starter after Keydrick Vincent’s release.
Grubbs is widely rated as the second-best guard in free agency, behind Carl Nicks. It is rumored that the Ravens made a “substantial offer” to keep Grubbs in Baltimore, but there is no sign of an agreement.
A high-profile player like Grubbs demands a big paycheck. He is not expected to sign anywhere for less than $5 million, which makes him a long-shot for the Eagles. However, adding him would make the pocket inaccessible to most pass-rushers.
Dallas Clark is looking to revive his career away from Indiana.
Honestly, I don’t think the Eagles need an upgrade over Brent Celek. Still, they could definitely use a player like Dallas Clark to field some two-tight-end sets and provide Michael Vick a bunch of targets.
Clark, like Peyton Manning and Joseph Addai, was cut by the Indianapolis Colts. He will be 33 years old before the 2012 season kicks off, so Clark is not an investment for the future; he is a veteran tight end that can compete at a high level for two or three more years.
Clark’s value is severely damaged due to his horrendous 2011 season and the fact he won’t have Manning throwing to him. His health is also an issue.
The Eagles can get Clark on the cheap. He is not a legit No. 1 option anymore, but can prove to be a great backup and threat in the end zone. Signing him is risky, but do not forget: risks generate the biggest profits.