Forget a Dream Team, Eagles Are Just Building a Defense That Wins

Chris TrapassoAnalyst IMarch 15, 2013

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 17: Chip Kelly (R) is introduced as the new head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles as team owner Jeffrey Lurie looks on 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

The Dream Team is officially an afterthought in Philadelphia.

After the disappointing results and subsequent fallout from the 2011 free-agency class, the Eagles are now taking a vastly different approach with their defense.

Instead of making flashy, big-name signings, a more conservative strategy has been implemented. This time around, on paper, the acquisitions appear to be bound for positive contributions.

Defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga was signed to an extremely modest three-year, $12 million deal with only $3.75 million in guaranteed money. 

Although ProFootballFocus (subscription required) graded him as one of the least effective defensive tackles in football in 2012, he'll add more bulk as the nose tackle to an already beefy line.

He'll be a vital asset to the 3-4 alignment.  

Bradley Fletcher was inked to a two-year, $5.25 million contract with only $2.35 million in guaranteed dollars. The soon-to-be 27 year old was graded by PFF as a top 25 pass-coverage cornerback in 2012. 

At 6'0'' and an even 200 pounds, he could be one of the starting corners on the outside when the regular season begins.  

Cary Williams was the other cornerback acquired by the Eagles, and some didn't like the signing for Philadelphia.

If we're basing it on skill, Cary Williams should not have been paid more than the other cornerbacks who have signed.

— NFL Philosophy (@NFLosophy) March 15, 2013

However, his size and playoff experience were deemed as valuable traits, and there's nothing wrong with that. 

Also, his three-year, $17 million contract includes only $5.75 million guaranteed. 

More importantly, Nnamdi Asomugha, arguably the biggest free-agent bust of all time, was released, creating a classic addition-by-subtraction scenario. 

In 2012, quarterbacks averaged a 120.1 QB rating when throwing in his direction. 


Chances are Philadelphia won't miss Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie either, a Dream Team member who significantly underwhelmed.

Patrick Chung has lacked awareness for the majority of his professional career and has dealt with injuries, but he did play his best football under Chip Kelly at Oregon, and he was signed to a cheap four-year, $10 million deal with only $4.25 million guaranteed. 

Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman were ranked by PFF as the 84th- and 85th-best safeties in football last season.

Jason Phillips adds experience to the linebacking corps, and he graded as a top 30 4-3 outside linebacker in 2012, but he played only 103 snaps. 

Lastly, Connor Barwin is a lunch-pail type of edge-rusher who represents quality depth to a defense that, in all likelihood, will be on the field often due to Kelly's up-tempo offense. 

PFF rated him as one of the worst 3-4 outside linebackers in 2012, but again, his contract was fair. 

On the surface, his six-year, $36 million deal appeared outrageous. However, it includes only $8 million in guarantees. 

None of the Eagles' free-agent signings turned heads, but the new regime clearly has a plan, and they made a consummate effort to not overpay with the Dream Team nightmare finally dissipating.