With more and more headlines indicating the Philadelphia Eagles’ interest in free agency and winning now as opposed to building for the future, as an Eagles fan I cannot wait for a collective bargaining agreement to be reached, so I can see who Andy Reid brings aboard.
Many big names—such as Nnamdi Asomugha, Albert Haynesworth, and even the recently freed Plaxico Burress—are being tossed around.
However, as exciting as it would be for the Eagles to land a big name free agent, the franchise often refrains from making large splashes in free agency.
Instead, the Eagles often attempt to go for the steal, snagging an effective player at a more reasonable price. This was attempted most recently in the failed Marlin Jackson signing prior to the 2010 season, but even the signing of Vick was a steal as the financial burden incurred by the Eagles was not high.
If history repeats itself, then we can expect the Eagles to be aggressive in free agency, but possibly not in the way fans will immediately appreciate.
If the Eagles therefore refrain, as usual, from making a big splash, here are five non big-name free agents who could nonetheless make an immediate impact in Philadelphia and help the Eagles win a Super Bowl.
While signing Tolbert would certainly not be cheap (the Eagles would have to give up a second-round pick), it would still make sense if Andy Reid truly views 2011 as his lone window of opportunity.
If the Eagles are willing to pay the immense price, Tolbert would be a good fit due to his big-bruiser running style.
Plus, as Leonard Weaver’s recovery is very questionable at this point, the Eagles could certainly use another back to complement LeSean McCoy. McCoy is an excellent running back, but he lacks the power to convert short-yardage situations, relying much more on speed and agility. Tolbert could be a go-to guy on 3rd-and-1, 3rd and inches, and to change up the pace in general.
Due to this, he may make even more sense for the Eagles than a big name like Reggie Bush, whose playing style is already similar to that of McCoy’s. Therefore, Mike Tolbert is a back that I could potentially see Reid signing.
Trent Cole desperately needs a threat opposite of him to give him more effectiveness in the pass rush, and Ray Edwards may be a good lineman to consider.
While many are speculating that the Eagles are interested in acquiring the talents of Albert Haynesworth, a deal for Edwards would be more preferable, in my opinion.
First of all, Haynesworth is sitting on top of a ridiculous contract, so any attempt to trade for him would already be financially unwise. And even if he were released and signed to the Eagles as a free agent, he is a team distraction—one that the Eagles could do without, even more so considering the defensive tackles already on the team, Mike Patterson and Brodick Bunkley, are still playing at a solid level.
What this team needs is another defensive end. Brandon Graham will be coming off a nasty ACL tear, which may slow down his development as a potential starter. Therefore, if the Eagles want to take an immediate starter at defensive end to improve the defense now, Edwards could be the man.
Similar to Edwards' pairing with Jared Allen, offenses will not be able to double- and triple-team Trent Cole as easily if he were starting opposite of him. Thus, Edwards is a free agent that may be worth some consideration.
Babin was with the Eagles in 2009, but did not produce well enough to justify keeping him on the roster.
But a year later, he goes to Tennessee and has a Pro Bowl season.
The difference may be the presence of Jim Washburn, regarded as one of the league’s best defensive line coaches.
If Washburn could make Babin produce at a Pro Bowl level in 2010, odds are he could do a good job with Babin again in Philadelphia. Plus, Babin no doubt is already familiar with the rest of the Eagles coaching staff and many of the players, so any locker-room adjustment would be minimal.
If he could be re-signed as an Eagle, Babin may be quite a steal.
Taylor, a long-time starter at cornerback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, would be an excellent addition to the secondary and would certainly take some pressure off Asante Samuel’s shoulders.
He may not be the big-name corner that Nnamdi Asomugha is, but Taylor shadows receivers incredibly well, and that will be crucial for the Eagles, whose division includes the likes of Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, and Hakeem Nicks. Taylor's consistently reliable man coverage will be an instant upgrade opposite of Samuel and may even allow the Eagles to blitz more frequently.
Additionally, Taylor is good in run support, and a versatile weapon like that can only help a team with championship aspirations.
The main flaw in Taylor’s game is that he does not produce interceptions as frequently as one may desire.
However, with ball-hawks Asante Samuel and Nate Allen on the roster, Taylor will not be pressured to do so and can instead focus on shutting down his man and playing solid coverage.
While Taylor may have lost a step over the years, there is little doubt that he is still one of the better corners in the NFL and would immediately be the second best corner on the team if signed.
And he would most definitely not demand as high of a salary as a player like Asomugha.
Like Taylor, the main knock on Rogers is his stone-hard hands, which cause him to fail to produce the flashy interception statistics that get most players into the Pro Bowl.
However, what many fans do not realize is that Rogers is actually excellent in coverage. For years he was a consistent cornerback for the Washington Redskins, and he is now set to become an unrestricted free agent.
And like Taylor, his skills can be acquired for far less money than that required for a big name like Nnamdi Asomugha.
Also like Taylor, landing Rogers would absolutely be an upgrade over Dmitri Patterson and Trevard Lindley and give the Eagles a very reliable addition to the secondary. Plus, Rogers’ consistent, solid coverage may be the perfect combination to pair with the risk-taking Asante Samuel.
It also can’t hurt that Rogers feels disrespected by the Redskins franchise and may be willing to sign on to the Eagles so he can stick it to his old team twice a season.