2012 NFL Free Agents: 5 Moves the Philadelphia Eagles Didn't Want to See
At this time last year, Philadelphia was able to acquire a handful of Pro Bowlers without having to sacrifice the integrity and core of its franchise.
This offseason, the Eagles have furthered this sentiment by extending contracts to key players on their roster; however, this has given the rest of the NFL one less team to worry about in the free-agent market.
Although many moves remain to be made, here are five that the Eagles could have lived without.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sign LG Carl Nicks
This signing ranks so low on my list only because of the end results.
Although this was a signing that occurred out of the division, it could have been catastrophic for the Philadelphia Eagles and their plans.
New Orleans was lucky enough to sign Ben Grubbs away from the Baltimore Ravens, who were then in turn faced with the same issues that pegged the Saints.
After losing Grubbs, the Ravens directed their attention towards Philadelphia free agent Evan Mathis, who according to ProFootballFocus was last season’s best guard.
If he had signed elsewhere, Philadelphia would have jeopardized the one consistent aspect of their offense and broken up the best left side of football.
4. New York Giants Sign TE Martellus Bennett
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The one-year, $2.5 million deal comes with little risk and little financial attachment for the New York Giants
After suffering injuries during their Super Bowl victory, both Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum aren’t expected to be ready for the start of the 2012 season.
The signing of Martellus Bennett not only addresses the tight end issues of the Giants but also their offensive line deficiencies as well.
Although Bennett only has 88 career receptions and hasn’t scored a touchdown since his rookie season, the 25-year old has been playing under the shadow of Jason Witten for the entirety of his career.
Without any serious competition for playing time in New York, Bennett will be given an expanded role in the Giants’ passing attack, and at 6'6", he will be a big red zone target.
It’s no secret that the Philadelphia Eagles struggled to find consistency from their linebackers in 2011. While the majority of their problems fell within the run game, the other part has made them a victim to the pass.
The Eagles have addressed this by switching cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, onto elite tight ends like Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten in the past.
If Bennett can rediscover the talent that made him worthy of a second-round selection, look for his presence to disrupt the defensive game plan of many teams.
Even if he doesn’t become an elite receiving option, look for Bennett to improve an offensive line that ProFootballFocus ranked as 31st in the NFL. The former Texas A&M star has ranked as a top-five run-blocker at his position for the last three seasons and should give the Giants a new offensive weapon, one way or the other.
3. Dallas Cowboys Sign MLB Dan Connor
Last season, Bradie James and Keith Brooking were not only liabilities against the run but also looked completely lost in coverage.
Aside from Sean Lee, the Dallas Cowboys lacked another middle linebacker that they could count on.
The addition of Dan Connor gives them a solid two-down player, who Lee has experience playing with. The two spent two years together as college teammates at Penn State, combining to form an aggressive tackling combo that led the Big Ten in tackling.
Their chemistry and previous experience together should give Connor a head start as he begins to adjust to the intricacies of a 3-4 defense after spending his first four years with the Carolina Panthers.
This signing not only improves Dallas’ defensive unit but also hurts the Philadelphia Eagles because they had reportedly made a one-year offer to the 26-year-old free agent as well.
The Eagles should be in play for some new linebackers, but the top talent of this year’s free-agent class remains unsigned for a reason.
Stephen Tulloch, Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne all want top dollar for their services, but this isn’t a position that the Eagles historically value.
By giving Connor an offer, the Eagles acknowledged their need for improvement at this position. Now that he’s with their divisional rivals, don’t expect Philadelphia to find an affordable linebacker with his run-stopping abilities in this year’s market.
2. Dallas Cowboys Sign CB Brandon Carr
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The main issue with last year’s Dallas Cowboys team was their atrocious secondary play—which was on full display in a Week 17 do-or-die matchup against the New York Giants.
In a game that would have sent them to the playoffs, the Cowboys allowed Giants quarterback Eli Manning to throw for 346 yards and three touchdowns, while completing 72.7 percent of his passes.
Terence Newman and Orlando Scandrick were the victims of that aerial assault, but the addition of Brandon Carr should help alleviate some of this pain.
Carr is a big, physical corner who fits well in Dallas’ pressure-based defensive system. His ability to press receivers at the line of scrimmage and knock them off their routes will afford pass-rushers like DeMarcus Ware more time to get to the quarterback.
The four-year veteran also possesses great discipline on the outside; he rarely bites on pump fakes or play-action and won’t take risks like this.
Carr has never missed a game in his career, so Philadelphia receivers will be less than thrilled to line up against him twice a year.
1. Washington Redskins Trade Up for No. 2 Overall Pick
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Some people might believe that the Washington Redskins gave up too much in a trade for the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft.
I am not one of them.
In the past, I’ve argued why the Redskins would be wise to trade up and draft Robert Griffin III.
Now that they’ve completed step one, Washington has positioned themselves to draft their franchise quarterback—whoever it may be.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder has never been shy about spending money to improve his team. The only problem is that he has spent on the wrong players.
This motivated Snyder to pull the trigger on a deal that sent three first-round picks and a second-round selection in exchange for a signal-caller of his liking.
If drafted, his multiple skill-set will draw the ire of Philadelphia and their fans for at least the next decade. His presence alone could be enough to turn around the franchise and cultivate an atmosphere of success.
Only time will tell how this saga plays out, but you can bet that the Eagles aren’t looking forward to it.