Philadelphia Eagles: Free Agency in Review

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistApril 1, 2013

September 30, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams cornerback Bradley Fletcher (32) celebrates his interception during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams defeated the Seahawks 19-13. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

While the rest of the NFC East struggled to raise the cash to spend on their own free agents, let alone free agents from other teams, the Philadelphia Eagles were able to spend at their leisure from the get-go in free agency. 

However, instead of splurging on banner names, the Eagles instead decided to target specific players that suited their schemes and preferences. The result? A very disciplined but productive start to the offseason. Let's break it down.

This offseason is all about moving on from a failed final era under Andy Reid and developing a new mentality and core under Chip Kelly—and I think they're on the right track. Jason Babin was already gone before the season ended and Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Cullen Jenkins joined him in March. 

Instead of simply looking for replacements for those guys, Philly went hunting for big, aggressive and versatile players, typically from winning teams. 

In the process, they replaced Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie, as I indicate in the above color-coordinated chart. They should experience an upgrade in consistency, toughness and tackling with Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams on board. 

They also brought in two new starting-caliber safeties with the same or similar features. Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung will likely replace Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, who both remain on the roster on cheap rookie contracts.

The incoming duo are sure tacklers with bigger upsides. Phillips has Pro Bowl talent but comes to town on a cheap one-year deal because of injury concerns. Good dice roll. 

Connor Barwin's getting paid a lot of money to back up Trent Cole and Brandon Graham, but he brings depth and experience to the position as the Eagles make the switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4. That move feels similar to the Isaac Sopoaga signing. Sopoaga can and will start from the get-go at nose tackle, but he's probably only a veteran stopgap. 

Then there's James Casey, who is perfect for Kelly's offense. Watch as that staff finds fascinating ways to utilize the former Houston Texan, lining him up all over the place. Exciting move. 

Although Jenkins was a great dude and a stellar player, even his loss doesn't hurt much, if at all. He's 32 years old now and is probably better off as a 4-3 defensive tackle.

If indeed Akeem Jordan is done in Philly, the Eagles will miss him on special teams. But at least they've added some experience and strength in that area with the Jason Phillips signing. 

Best signing: Bradley Fletcher. An extremely underrated corner who is tough, aggressive and strong in coverage. He comes cheap and is still young. 

Worst signing: Connor Barwin. He's being paid huge bucks and is expected to serve as a backup to Trent Cole and Brandon Graham at 3-4 outside linebacker. Strange considering they also have Vinny Curry and have been linked to Dion Jordan in the draft. 

"Best" loss: [tie] Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha. It was time to move on from both. Overrated, overpaid. 

Worst loss: Akeem Jordan. Seriously, that's how nicely things have gone this offseason.