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You couldn’t describe Cole’s transition to outside linebacker as anything less than a success. The two-time Pro Bowler was effective against the run, not a complete liability, and by the end of the season, the pass rush came around. Cole registered 8.0 sacks, all over the Eagles’ final eight games.
Cole turns 32 this year, so it’s definitely time to start seeking a replacement. The defense should be able to squeeze one last quality year out of him, though, before his cap hit increases to in excess of $10 million in 2015, according to EaglesCap.com.
Ryans arrived in Philadelphia in 2012 under the cloud that he was no longer a three-down interior linebacker. Granted, he may no longer be ideal in that role as he is on the verge of turning 30, but the two-time Pro Bowler’s veteran savvy allows him to be effective in all situations.
The former Houston Texan actually set career highs in ’13 with 4.0 sacks and two interceptions, and matched another with seven pass breakups. It’s definitely time the Eagles start seeking a replacement, but they can easily get by with Ryans for another season.
The second-year interior linebacker has his faults. His tackling needs work, and at 5’11”, he can get lost in coverage against bigger tight ends. That being said, Kendricks flashed the ability to become a dynamic playmaker in ’13. Achieving 4.0 sacks, three interceptions and two forced fumbles is a strong line for a second-year player in a new scheme. Could bigger things be on the horizon?
Barwin turned out to be a great fit for the Eagles’ scheme. The five-year vet was a beast against the run and had no problem dropping into coverage with regularity—more than any other 3-4 outside linebacker in the league last season, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription only).
Gone are the days when Barwin would rack up double-digit sacks, as he did for the Houston Texans in 2011. He’s still an effective pass-rusher, though, getting to the quarterback for 5.0 last season. The man can do it all, which is what made him such a fantastic free-agent signing last offseason in the first place.