Eagles make all the (boring) right moves on Day 1 of Free Agency

Newly-signed Eagles cornerback Bradley Fletcher celebrates an interception (September 29, 2012 – Source: David Welker/Getty Images North America)

Though some fans might be angry that the Eagles didn’t use all their cap space to add an “impact player,” the truth is there are very few players who will turn out to be worth the monster contracts they signed yesterday. While other teams were clamoring for “top talent,” the Eagles put together 5 signings that, while unsexy, will serve as a solid foundation for the new look of Chip Kelly’s team. Here’s the skinny on your newest Eagles.

Patrick Chung

Pos: Safety
Age: 25
Ht: 5’11”
Wt: 205
Last Team: NE

Chung reunites with his former college coach after four decent but uninspiring seasons with the Patriots. While the Pats secondary has been one of the worst in the league since Chung was drafted in 2009, ranking 8th worst in touchdowns allowed and dead last in yards allowed, Chung rated pretty well on an individual level. He is a very consistent tackler. According to ProFootballFocus, in 40 game appearances since 2010 (including playoffs), Chung recorded 161 solo tackles and only missed 16Chung can cover a bit too, allowing just a 56.4 passer rating against last season. The big knock on Chung is health. He’s missed 14 regular season games over the last three years due to various ailments, and this undoubtedly reduced his price tag. Chung won’t do much to make the highlight reel, but he’s a good overall player and should immediately supplant Nate Allen or Kurt Coleman in a starting role. 

Bradley Fletcher

Pos: Cornerback
Age: 26
Ht: 6’0″
Wt: 196
Last Team: STL

Fletcher could be the steal of the Eagles free agent class. Knee injuries have greatly limited him in his 4 seasons since getting drafted 66th overall by the Rams, but when healthy, Fletcher is a very good outside cover corner. In 2010, his last season as a starter, Fletcher was quietly one of the best-rated corners in the league. That season he intercepted 4 passes and allowed a completion on only 52.1% of the passes in his direction. He is also an excellent tackler, which is certainly something Eagles fans will embrace. The Rams invested heavily in Cortland Finnegan last offseason, and the emergence of supplementary draft pick Janoris Jenkins made Fletcher expendable. Besides the obvious concern of injuries, the biggest problem with Fletcher’s game is a penchant for giving up pass interference penalties. With youth, upside, a low price tag, and proven production when healthy, Fletcher has an opportunity to resurrect his career with a fresh start in Philly.

James Casey

Pos: Fullback / Tight End
Age: 28
Ht: 6’3″
Wt: 235
Last Team: HOU

Casey figures to step into the role of 2nd string tight end and fullback for Chip Kelly’s offense. He’s the living definition of a ‘tweener: too tall and lanky for a classic fullback but too short and slow for a tight end. Still, despite seemingly lacking measurables, Casey is just a damn good football player. Casey is versatile as a blocker and pass catcher, hauling in 34 receptions and 3 touchdowns last season to go with just two drops. He consistently provided very good blitz protection for the statuesque Matt Schaub. Due to his size Casey isn’t the most effective run-blocker, but it is not a detriment to his game either. Expect Casey to become a fan favorite for his toughness, hustle, and effectiveness as a flexible offensive role player.

Isaac Sopoaga

Pos: Nose Tackle
Age: 31
Ht: 6’2″
Wt: 320
Last Team: SF
Contract: 3 Years, $12 M

Sopoaga was probably the least-heralded part of the 49ers’ stellar defensive line last season. In 14 games (9 starts), Sopoaga racked up just 1 sack and 21 solo tackles. He played just 32% of the defensive snaps. ProFootballFocus.com hates him in run defense, rating him negatively in that metric for 4 of the last 5 years, but Sopoaga’s position means he is often double-teamed by the opposing center and guard. Is Sopoaga a world-beater who will take this defense to the next level? Not even close. But he’s serviceable enough for the purposes of getting through this season, and definitely an upgrade at NT over released veterans Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson, neither of which has the body type or playing style to fit the position. Sopoaga should help open up room for Fletcher Cox, who faced the majority of the double teams last season. Look for the Eagles to put him in a rotation with either a rookie draft pick nose tackle or another veteran place-holder that has yet to be signed.

Jason Phillips

Pos: Linebacker / Special Teams
Age: 27
Ht: 6’1″
Wt: 235
Last Team: CAR

Phillips is a depth/special teams signing. With the switch to the 3-4 (or whatever we’re running) defense, the team is in need of more linebacker depth, and that is what Phillips provides. When he gets on the field, Phillips has been used more often in run defense than pass coverage. He recorded 11 special teams tackles last year.

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Posted on March 13, 2013, in Eagles, Hank Mushinski, Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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