NFL Free Agency: Why New Free-Agent Strategy Will Benefit Philadelphia Eagles

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2013

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 17: Chip Kelly talks to the media after being introduced as the new head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles during a news conference at the team's NovaCare Complex on January 17, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The former Oregon coach surprised many after he initially turned down NFL clubs saying he would remain at Oregon. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

With the release of Nnamdi Asomugha on Tuesday, the Philadelphia Eagles finally got rid of the last piece of the so-called "Dream Team" that was supposed to bring a new era of prosperity to Philadelphia. 

During the Andy Reid era, big name after big name was brought into Philadelphia and there were more memorable busts (Jevon Kearse, Asomugha and Jason Babin) than there were successes (Jason Peters and Asante Samuel). 

However, Kelly's free-agent policy has already differed from the one of the Reid era in just two days. He has brought five role players who are looking to not only change the product on the field, but also change the attitude in the locker room as well. 

A new vibe in the locker room is something that is desperately needed after last season's collapse. Newly minted Eagles defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga already has plans for this change. 

The former San Francisco 49er made it clear in his introductory press conference on Wednesday at the NovaCare Complex ( that an attitude change was necessary, saying, "I believe and I promise that we are going to shock the world. I believe that Coach Kelly has a big solid book out there for us. We're willing and anxious to test it and show it in action."

Sopoaga, along with the four other signings made by Philadelphia on Tuesday, is not the kind of sexy name that Eagles fans are accustomed to see arrive at Philly during free agency.

But he does't have to be. 

Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman are looking for top-notch character players who will change the attitude created in the final two years of the Reid era.

The addition of Sopoaga and the potential arrival of Ricky Jean-Francois, who visited with the Eagles on Wednesday, mark another change as the Eagles will shift to a 3-4 style on defense (via

In addition to Sopoaga, the Eagles signed the versatile James Casey, who is listed as both a fullback and a tight end; safety Patrick Chung; cornerback Bradley Fletcher; and linebacker John Phillips (via 

Casey is a player who was overshadowed by the star-studded offense in Houston. He now has a chance to easily become a fan favorite in Philadelphia. He will not be the marquee tight end on the roster, a position that still belongs to Brent Celek, but he will be a key contributor that can play in many positions.

A versatile player like Casey is also a perfect fit in the fast-paced offense that Kelly is famous for running.

His arrival could also spell the end of Clay Harbor's run with the Eagles. 

Chung brings in a winning mentality from New England. He is also a player that is used to Kelly because he played at Oregon when Kelly was an assistant there. 

The 25-year-old safety only started 20 games over the past two seasons for New England. So, he should not be expected to be the solution to the Eagles' troubles at the safety position.

Chung should become a player like Colt Anderson, who sets the tone on special teams.

As for Fletcher and Phillips, neither of the two is expected to become a star and a constant contributor to the defense.

But they are expected to provide a spark when called upon.

Fletcher enters Philadelphia as the most experienced corner on the Eagles roster.

But that is expected to change before the season begins.

The 2009 third-round pick of the Rams will be a strong presence at the nickel position, which was a position that was one of the biggest weaknesses in 2012 for the Eagles.

Phillips does add to the depth at the linebacker position, but his impact will most likely be felt on special teams. 

By bringing these five players in under the national radar, Kelly is making a statement to Eagles fans that the culture of the team is quickly changing and that he would rather win with 53 character guys instead of winning with a bunch of superstars.

If his free-agent signings continue in this manner, not only will the 2013 Philadelphia Eagles earn respect around the league, but they will also gain respect back from the fans with their workman-like mentality.

And that is something the team has not had over the last two seasons. 

Follow me on Twitter @JTansey90.