There's an interesting dynamic going on in Philadelphia, particularly as it relates to the Eagles' stable of pass-rushers. Since the team is widely expected to use a variation of a 3-4 defense, let's just call those players outside linebackers for the sake of simplicity.
Outside linebacker Brandon Graham is coming off a breakout season and is probably the most exciting young player on the roster. He's locked in.
Outside linebacker Connor Barwin was just signed to a six-year, $36 million contract with $8 million guaranteed. He'll play a big role whether he starts or not.
And that's what brings us to outside linebacker Vinny Curry, who was drafted 59th overall a year ago, but was held without a sack on just 89 snaps in six appearances as a rookie.
If the Eagles believed in Curry, would they be giving $6 million-per-year contracts to veteran backups?
If they felt strongly that the Marshall product had a bright future in midnight green, would they be flirting with additional free-agent linebackers with 3-4 OLB experience?
Of late, they've been chatting up Victor Butler, an underrated four-year veteran from the Dallas Cowboys who has 11 career sacks despite starting only two games. Butler was smothered by DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer in Dallas, but the Eagles saw—and liked—enough of the 25-year-old to bring him in for a visit on Tuesday.
Butler left without a contract, but Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that there was "still mutual interesting in getting a deal done."
More from McLane:
His addition wouldn't affect the status of either Trent Cole or Brandon Graham, according to a team source. But second-year defensive end Vinny Curry still has a way to go before he's assured of a roster spot.
Curry has the speed and overall skill set to succeed as a 3-4 outside linebacker. In fact, many had him pegged for such a role ahead of last year's draft. So this isn't scheme-related. But it is possible the Eagles just don't believe he's a special enough player to merit a guaranteed roster spot.
It's plausible Philly brings in another 3-4 OLB in free agency (Butler) or in the draft (Dion Jordan) while still keeping Curry. Plenty of 3-4 teams carried five active outside 'backers this past season and Curry wouldn't have a lot of competition for a fifth spot.
But you still have to wonder what it is the Eagles' brass isn't seeing in him. He's got the speed, size and track record to be a very good player at this position, and yet Howie Roseman, Chip Kelly and Co. continue to spend their time courting older, more expensive dates.
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