Much of the struggles of the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles can be attributed to failed free-agent acquisitions. Andy Reid went on a splurge during the ’11 offseason that was supposed to make the Eagles the team to beat in the NFC.
Instead, many of the high-profile players backfired, and the Eagles found themselves at 8-8 on the outside looking in once the playoffs started. The poor play has carried over to ’12, and the 3-6 Eagles likely won’t reach the postseason for the second-straight season.
Reid’s tenure with the Eagles is as good as done, and it’s as appropriate of a time as ever to look back at the worst free-agent signings he’s made with the Eagles.
The Philadelphia Eagles thought they were getting a fine complement to LeSean McCoy when they signed Mike Bell in free agency for the 2010 season.
Bell had agreed to a one-year, $1.7 million deal with the Eagles. He ended up running for just 28 yards on 16 carries, a pitiful 1.8 yards-per-carry average. Bell was then traded to Cleveland for Jerome Harrison, and Bell rushed 31 times for just 71 yards for the Browns.
He’s now out of football.
The Philadelphia Eagles thought they had themselves a terrific inside linebacker when they added Dhani Jones before the 2004 season.
Jones played three years in Philly, contributing very little value as an outside linebacker. Jones made his share of tackles but made almost no big plays, coming up with just one sack, two interceptions and one fumble recovery in 48 games.
Takeo Spikes has played 15 seasons in the National Football League for five different teams. He’s been effective nearly everywhere he’s gone except for Philadelphia in 2007.
The Eagles acquired Spikes to be the veteran leader and a difference-maker on the defense.
Instead, he managed to record zero interceptions, forced fumbles or fumble recoveries, and just one sack in 14 games. He then went to San Francisco in 2008 and played at a high level all year.
What’s keeping Nnamdi Asomugha from ranking higher on this list is the fact that he’s played just one-and-a-half seasons in Philadelphia so far.
But when the Eagles agreed to a five-year, $60 million deal with Asomguha in the 2011 offseason, they thought they were getting arguably the best corner in the NFL. Asomugha had been absolutely lights out in Oakland, allowing just one touchdown pass in his final three seasons with the Raiders.
To put that in perspective, Asomugha has already been beaten for a touchdown three separate times in 2012, and he’s surrendering a 112.4 passer rating on targets his way. He’s a terrible tackler, and he commits a high number of penalties.
That’s not what a team wants when they’re paying $12-16 million per year for him.
To be fair, Mike McMahon was a career backup quarterback who was placed in a difficult situation in 2005. He took over for an injured Donovan McNabb midway through the season and inherited a Philadelphia Eagles team that was depleted by injuries (and the Terrell Owens suspension).
But McMahon was downright awful. He lost five of his seven starts, finishing with dreadful passing numbers. He posted a 45.4 completion percentage, throwing eight interceptions and fumbling eight times.
He was at his worst against Seattle on Monday Night Football when he completed four of 10 passes for 61 yards and two interceptions in a 42-0 loss.
In a typical case of Andy Reid trying to be a genius, Reid tried to turn defensive tackle Dan Klecko into a fullback in the West Coast offense.
Klecko was as inexperienced as any defensive tackle would be lining up at fullback regularly, and short-yardage situations constantly cost the Eagles in 2008. Klecko never played again after that season, although he was fortunate enough to earn three Super Bowl rings (and nearly a fourth) in six seasons.
Ernie Sims is part of a long line of dime-a-dozen linebackers Andy Reid tried to convert into superstars. Sims was a former first-round bust with the Detroit Lions who played 15 disappointing games with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010.
He was replaced by no-name players like Moise Fokou and Casey Matthews, neither of whom can play at all.
The Philadelphia Eagles signed veteran safety Blaine Bishop to boost their safety corps for the 2002 campaign. Bishop and Brian Dawkins were supposed to give the Eagles one of the top groups in the National Football League.
Dawkins was his typical dominating self, but Bishop looked older and slower, and he really cost the Eagles in the NFC championship game. Bishop was responsible for covering Tampa Bay wide receiver Joe Jurevicius, who took a slant 71 yards to the Eagles’ five-yard line in the eventual 27-10 Buccaneers win.
Andy Reid had to be out of his mind thinking the Philadelphia Eagles could win football games in 2000 with a ground game of Darnell Autry and Stanley Pritchett. It’s not Reid’s fault that Duce Staley went down, but the Eagles never recovered.
Autry hadn’t gotten an NFL carry for three years, and he ended up averaging just 2.9 yards per carry on 112 rushes. Autry never again played in the league. Meanwhile, Pritchett rushed for just 225 yards on 58 carries, a 3.9 yards-per-carry average.
Donovan McNabb led the team with 629 rushing yards, and Duce Staley was second with 344 yards in just five games. That’s how bad the Eagles’ rushing attack was in 2000.
For the first several years, the Philadelphia Eagles made absolutely no attempt to give Donovan McNabb a wide receiver that could separate from opposing defenses.
Charles Johnson and Torrance Small were as mediocre as they come. Collectively, they lasted just a year each in Philly. Johnson totaled 56 receptions for 642 yards and seven touchdowns, and Small put up 40 catches for 569 yards and three scores.
There’s no reason the Eagles should have even moved the ball with those guys catching passes and Darnell Autry/Stanley Pritchett running the football.
The Philadelphia Eagles thought they had a huge steal when they signed former All-Pro wide receiver Steve Smith from the New York Giants before the 2011 season. Smith had caught 107 passes for 1,220 yards and seven scores in ’09 before suffering a serious injury in 2010.
Smith barely got onto the field for the ’11 Eagles, catching just 11 passes for 124 yards and one touchdown. He etched his name in Philly infamy when he all but collapsed short of the first-down marker in a game against the Arizona Cardinals so that he wouldn’t be hit.
He was released following the campaign and somehow got another job with the St. Louis Rams.
Ronnie Brown was another fairly big-name free-agent acquisition by the Philadelphia Eagles before 2011. He was supposed to provide veteran depth behind LeSean McCoy.
That never happened, though, as Brown etched his name into Philly infamy when he inexplicably lateraled the ball near the goal line against San Francisco in Week 3. Brown finished the season with an awful 3.2 yards-per-carry average on 42 rushes.
The Philadelphia Eagles thought they had the perfect backup quarterback to Michael Vick in Vince Young. Young was essentially a right-handed version of Vick, a highly-recruited player out of college who saw success as a rookie but never really learned to pass well enough in the NFL.
Young then spoke the dreaded “Dream Team” phrase in training camp, a saying that rivals “For who, for what?” as the worst in the city’s history. Young was injured for the first several games of 2011 then got his chance against the New York Giants.
He led the Eagles on a spectacular game-winning drive, capped with a touchdown pass to Riley Cooper in the end zone that overcame his three interceptions. It went downhill from there, though, as Young lost to the New England Patriots the following week and then threw four picks in a humiliating loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Young finished the season with nine interceptions to just four touchdown passes, and his 60.8 passer rating was the worst of his career.
This really doesn’t seem too high for Demetress Bell. The Philadelphia Eagles thought they had themselves a solid starter at left tackle when Jason Peters went down with a torn Achilles tendon.
Bell had played well in Buffalo when he was healthy, but he’s been downright atrocious in Philly. The Eagles have such little depth at this point in the season that they can’t release Bell. They’re going to have to just ride Bell until the end, but he’s been increasingly worse every time he sees the field.
Bell is a turnstile at left tackle, so the Eagles tried him at right tackle. The problem there is that he’s tasked with protecting Michael Vick’s blind side, and that’s too much responsibility.
Bell was moved to left tackle against the Dallas Cowboys, but he was just as bad there. Bell is good for a couple of penalties and a couple of sacks allowed per game, and that’s worthy of the bench.
The Philadelphia Eagles signed Shawn Andrews’ brother Stacy in an attempt to motivate Shawn to play football like he did back in 2006 and 2007.
Stacy Andrews was given a ridiculous six-year, $40 million contract in free agency to play right tackle, putting the Andrews brothers right next to each other on the offensive line.
What actually happened though was a colossal nightmare.
Shawn’s back was so bad that he spent the season on injured reserve and was subsequently released the following March. Stacy placed two games, then was benched for the awful rotation of Max Jean-Gilles and Nick Cole, neither of whom is still in the league.
Stacy took a pay cut the following offseason and was then shipped off to Seattle right before the start of 2010. He’s now out of the NFL.
Meanwhile, the Eagles were forced to spend a first-round pick on right guard Danny Watkins in the 2011 draft. And given the performance from Watkins, the team still hasn’t recovered from Andrews.