The Philadelphia Eagles' free-agency plan has been very clear throughout this offseason. Like they did last year, the Eagles are interested in improving their team through the additions of impact players, both on offense and defense.
But they've made it clear that they're not interested in breaking the bank for a star player, which they showed when they passed on All-Pros Jairus Byrd, Darrelle Revis and DeMarcus Ware.
So general manager Howie Roseman and the rest of the team's front office will have an interesting decision to make as soon as the New England Patriots release defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.
According to Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, he's frustrated with the Patriots for asking him to restructure his contract after they shelled out $12 million for just one year on Revis. He's asked for his release, per ESPN's Adam Schefter and Mike Reiss, which will make the 32-year-old a free agent.
There are going to be a lot of teams calling about Wilfork. He's your prototypical nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. He's a massive body who is effective as both a run-stopper and a pass-rusher. He's earned five trips to the Pro Bowl and was a first-team All-Pro selection in 2012, his last full season.
He's basically been the cornerstone of the Patriots defense for the last decade.
The Eagles don't have a prototypical nose tackle. They had signed veteran Isaac Sopoaga before the 2013 season, but they traded him to the Patriots in midseason, largely due to his ineffectiveness on the field. Sopoaga had been a solid nose tackle during his previous years with the San Francisco 49ers, but he wasn't the same player at age 32 he had been a few years ago.
|Vince Wilfork's PFF Grades|
|Year||Snaps Played at NT||Grade||NT Rank|
|2013||177||-2.6||120th of 151|
|2012||910||10.4||11th of 148|
|2011||977||5.4||28th of 156|
|2010||436||7.3||27th of 155|
|2009||448||13.3||6th of 162|
|2008||614||14.8||10th of 164|
|2007||438||23.8||6th of 145|
|Pro Football Focus|
The Eagles elected to give Sopoaga's snaps to rookie Bennie Logan, a third-round draft pick in 2013. Logan started the season at defensive end but played better when he switched over to nose tackle. He finished the year with 31 tackles and two sacks, playing in about half the snaps on defense down the stretch.
But Logan isn't a prototypical nose tackle, and the Eagles may want a bigger body at the position. Logan is undersized (6'2", 309 lbs), as shown when the New Orleans Saints ran all over the Eagles on short-yardage plays in the playoffs. That likely wouldn't have happened with Wilfork anchoring the middle of the defensive line.
It's also unclear whether the Eagles want to count on Logan as their every-down nose tackle in the future. He played in about half the snaps down the stretch last year, but he may be best suited as a rotational defensive lineman.
That's where the Wilfork question comes into play.
He's an every-down player, but the big question to consider is whether Wilfork is still going to be a dominant player. He suffered a torn Achilles four games into the 2013 season and turns 33 in November. How many years does he have left in his career?
One, maybe two?
If he recovers from his injury and returns to Pro Bowl form, he'll be well worth the money it takes to acquire him. He could serve as a very effective stopgap on the defensive line for a year or two. But if not, it's the Isaac Sopoaga situation all over again.
Personally, I would definitely give Wilfork a call, but he's likely going to be seeking more money than the Eagles will be willing to pay for a soon-to-be 33-year-old coming off a major injury.
It's interesting to think about, but it's much more likely the Eagles enter the season with Logan and a player from the draft to plug the middle of their defensive line. The Eagles are more likely to groom their own players—especially on defense—than bring in a veteran likely past his prime.