Should the Philadelphia Eagles Pursue Nick Barnett and George Wilson?

Bryn SwartzSenior Writer IIIFebruary 12, 2013

ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 21: George Wilson #37 of the Buffalo Bills and Nick Barnett #50 and Bryan Scott #43 celebrate after turnign the ball over on downs during an NFL game against the Tennessee Titans at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 21, 2012 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills made a pair of significant moves to clear up salary cap space, releasing starting linebacker Nick Barnett and safety George Wilson. The moves will save the Bills $6.4 million in salary cap space, according to

Barnett, who turns 32 years old this offseason, was entering the final year of a three-year contract signed before the 2011 season. He recorded more than 100 tackles in 2011, but struggled as a pass rusher. The Bills also haven't improved on defense, allowing 434 points in 2011 and 435 points in 2012.
Wilson, also 32 years old this offseason, was a captain for five of his eight seasons in Buffalo and was one of the team's most respected members. He recorded more than 100 tackles in the last two years, but his interceptions dropped from four in 2011 to zero in 2012.
Despite their struggles in 2012, both Barnett and Wilson might be worth taking a flier on for the 2013 Philadelphia Eagles.
Barnett and Wilson both likely have another good year or two left in their careers. Each was also ranked among the top 10 players at their position by Pro Football Focus
For an Eagles team that has many holes on defense, I don't see a problem signing one-year stopgaps at a number of positions. Not every position can be filled by the draft, but that's where the Eagles should target most of their needs on defense. 
The problem is that with only seven picks in the draft (and two sides of the ball to worry about), the Eagles may need to take a few risks by signing aging, yet potentially still productive, players.
Barnett would be a major upgrade over Akeem Jordan, and I'd take Wilson over Nate Allen or Kurt Coleman without hesitating. 
Now if the Eagles can fill in the holes on defense during the draft, there's no need to keep Barnett and Wilson for the season. They can be cut during preseason, or they can fill in as backups.
Signing Wilson, however, does mean that the Eagles won't be able to sign safety Jairus Byrd, who is a free agent this offseason. Evan Silva reports that Byrd is virtually a zero percent chance to leave, as he will be re-signed to a long-term deal or given the franchise tag. 
Byrd had likely been on the Eagles radar, as he has been one of the best safeties in the NFL since the Bills drafted him in the second round of the 2009 draft.