NFL Free Agency: Why the Eagles Will Sign Plaxico, Albert and Nnamdi
Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has already stated his front office plans on being aggressive once free agency starts up. I believe that will turn out to be an understatement.
The Eagles have over $42 million worth of cap space right now, but that number will go down once they resign current players and sign draft picks. Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson are expected to get new deals, while Stewart Bradley and Sav Rocca need to be signed.
As of right now, both Rocca and Bradley are unrestricted free agents. But that depends on the new collective bargaining agreement. The Eagles should have somewhere around $25 million to $30 million to spend on free agency this season.
Last year, the Eagles' season ended at the hands of the eventual Super Bowl champs—the Green Bay Packers.
Throughout the 2010 season, the Eagles lacked a consistent pass rush, a red zone target and any talent whatsoever at the right cornerback position. Here's where the aggressive free agency plan comes in to play.
Plaxico Burress and Albert Haynesworth have both voiced interest on playing for the Eagles. Signing Nnamdi Asomugha seems likely as the Eagles have the most to spend of the Super Bowl contenders.
I know it sound absolutely insane that the Eagles could land all three players this offseason, but the team definitely has the means, and the players' desire, to get it done.
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Nnamdi Asomugha is the ideal shut-down cornerback in the NFL. He has a grand total of two interceptions and 79 tackles in the last three seasons combined.
That's not from a lack of effort or ability, it's because quarterbacks have refused to throw at him. In the 2010 season, Asomugha was thrown at just 27 times. He gave up just 10 completions and not a single touchdown.
Nnamdi has great size, at 6'2", 210 pounds—and he has the speed to match that elite size. He is the ideal press corner. Actually, he is the ideal cornerback, period.
The right cornerback position was beyond just a weakness in 2010 for the Eagles, it was a nightmare. Whether Ellis Hobbs, Dimitri Patterson or Joselio Hanson was in—it didn't matter. They all got burned.
They got beat deep and they got beat in the red zone. Patterson gave up an average of 15 yards per attempt on deep balls in 2010. Hobbs wasn't much better, as Kenny Britt lit him up for seven receptions, 225 yards and three touchdowns in a Week 7 collapse against the Titans.
The Eagles went 10-6 and won the NFC East title, despite having a major weakness in their secondary. It cost them at least three games during the season.
Adding a player as talented as Asomugha would definitely help the Eagles make the jump from a good team to a great team.
Asomugha's contract would probably go for somewhere around $15 million to $20 million a year, for at least 5 years. With players and coaches/general managers forbidden to speak until this lockout is over, it is unclear what Asomugha's needs will be.
He could opt for another lucrative deal, but that would mean playing for the Washington Redskins or someone else who is clearly not a contender. The highest bidders, besides the Eagles, will most likely be the Lions and possibly the Jets if the team can clear a lot of space.
If Asomugha wants a fair deal for someone with his talents—and to play for a true Super Bowl contender—the Eagles just seem to make the most sense.
Teaming up Asomugha and Asante Samuel would truly be special. They could be the best cornerback duo since the 1960s Lions that had Dick LeBeau and Lem Barney.
Both Samuel and Asomugha were thrown at quite a bit less in 2010 because of Asomugha's shut-down skills and Samuel's ball-hawking skills. Quarterbacks would have a tough choice to make when facing one of the best cornerback tandems ever.
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Plaxico Burress was one of the toughest receivers to cover in the previous decade—until his little incident in a New York City nightclub. Two years later, he is 34 years old and looking for one final deal to finish his career.
The Giants have already said the team will not bring Plaxico back. Wide-receiver-needy teams like Miami, Buffalo and St. Louis make the most sense, but Philly actually looks like the favorite right now.
But why the Eagles? They already have two Pro Bowl-caliber wideouts in DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. They also have one of the best slot receivers in Jason Avant and an up-and-coming, jump-ball type receiver in Riley Cooper.
So, why go after Burress? Well, the Eagles stink in the red zone and the team's receivers are a little undersized. Burress would go a long way in fixing their red zone woes and helping them convert critical third downs.
Would Burress take less money to play in Philadelphia? A month ago, it would seem that less money would be his only option. Since Buress' release, however, it seems he has garnered some serious interest from receiver-needy teams.
It is still unclear what his value will be once this lockout is finally lifted, but I would estimate it being somewhere around a four-year, $20 million contract. Or it could be a cheaper deal with bonuses based on his on-the-field performance to sweeten the deal.
It would appear Burress is willing finish his career in Philly with Vick. It will be up to the front office to pull the trigger and make this explosive offense even more dangerous.
Taking a former Giants player who could possibly burn them twice a year, and add to their rivals' six-game winning streak against them, should serve as even more motivation to make this happen.
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Albert Haynesworth is capable of being the most dominant defensive force in the NFL. In his last two years, he has racked up 14.5 sacks—and that was while being double- and triple-teamed constantly. But, his attitude and motivation have really been questioned in the past two years.
The Haynesworth era in Washington appears to be over. All Dan Snyder has to show for it is 6.5 sacks, a four-game suspension and constant bickering and whining—another great free agent pickup to add to his already stellar resume.
But, in Synder's defense, he did take the best 4-3 defensive tackle and put him in a defense in which he was uncomfortable.
All of the drama between Shanahan and Haynesworth appears to be working in the Eagles' favor this offseason. The best 4-3 defensive tackle in the game will be available at a bargain price. But why would he go to Philadelphia, a team that already has plenty of depth at the position with Mike Patterson, Broderick Bunkley, Antonio Dixon and Trevor Laws?
Jim Washburn, that's why. Jim Washburn is the legendary defensive line coach, formerly of the Tennessee Titans—Haynesworth's old team. Washburn is now the defensive line coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Washburn got the most out of Haynesworth in Tennessee. Haynesworth had 24 sacks for the Titans, including 14.5 in his final two seasons. He added to that 91 tackles, seven passes knocked down and three forced fumbles, despite being double- and triple-teamed on just about every play.
In 2008, Haynesworth finished the year with 8.5 sacks, but even that isn't the most impressive number. It's what he opened up for his linemates—35.5 sacks for the rest of the team. The Titans went 13-3 that season, and Haynesworth was a big reason why.
I believe Haynesworth would get his mojo back playing in a scheme he is used to and for a coach he has excelled with.
Sources within the Eagles told Yahoo! Sports that Washburn would like to team up with Albert again: "He wants him badly."
Haynesworth has also stated he wants to play for Washburn again, telling The Nashville Tennessean: "I owe Coach Wash pretty much everything," Haynesworth said. "If my deal was worth 100 million or whatever, then Washburn deserves 90 million."
Sounds to me that Haynesworth and the Philadelphia Eagles would be a perfect match. Would he take a pay cut? Well, honestly, he probably doesn't have a choice.
No one is going to match that $100 million offer he got from the Redskins in 2009. First of all, Washington has to release him. The Redskins have no need for him and his contract is untradeable based on his recent performance.
His projected contract would be similar to Burress' contract, pretty incentive-based but somewhere around $5 million a year, with plenty of performance bonuses.
This is pretty much the same deal as with Burress. Eagles don't necessarily need him, but there is motivation for Haynesworth to come to Philly at a bargain price.
It would certainly make them a much better team.
It Can Happen, but Will It?
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In 2004, the Eagles made a huge splash in free agency by signing the best wide receiver in the game, Terrell Owens, and one of the best defensive ends, Jevon Kearse. The Eagles were coming off another playoff disappointment and was trying to find the missing pieces that could help them bring the Lombardi Trophy to Philadelphia.
The Eagles are coming off back-to-back seasons with losses in the opening rounds of the playoffs. The Eagles have a great young core of players, but the team seems to be a player or two short of becoming great.
The red zone has been their Achilles' heel. James Starks confirmed that the team's run defense is still not there with his 123-yard performance in the playoffs.
Andy Reid knows the time is now. The money and the desire for big-time players to come to Philadelphia is there.
Jeffrey Lurie has already told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the Eagles plan on being aggressive once free agency begins. Signing the best cornerback and the best defensive tackle, while also adding a big-time red zone target, sounds pretty aggressive to me.
It's up to the front office to get it done and put this team in a position to finally do what it hasn't done since 1960: finish the season on top.