Tuesday, March 12, 2013

UPDATED: 15 Free Agent Bargains

The sexy names this year among the Philly fan-base are S Dashon Goldson, CB Sean Smith, and TE Jared Cook (I'm guilty of being enamored with him also) to name a few. I actually am very hopeful Chip and Howie don't overpay any of these big names. History always supports the "paying big for free-agents rarely works" philosophy. So let's take a look at some value free agents this year that could make a big impact:

  • DL Ricky Jean-Francois (6'3" 295 lbs) - He's only 26 years old and has the Tom Gamble connection. He should come at around $4 million per year, but for a young, versatile starting defensive lineman, that's a steal.
  • Sopoaga brings energy and leadership
    with experience in an elite defense.
  • STATUS: Visiting Eagles tomorrow.
  • NT Isaac Sopoaga (6'2" 330 lbs) - He's 31 years old. BUT, he's a 2-year fill for the NT void. This allows the Eagles to draft a big fella in the middle rounds and take their time with his development. There shouldn't be a ton of competition for Sopoaga so he should be very affordable.
  • STATUS: Signed with Eagles.
  • S Chris Clemons (6'1" 214 lbs) - Clemons is only 27 and coming off his best season. He's never going to be a dynamic play-maker, but he's a solid starting safety with good speed. He had 98 tackles and 2 INTs last season and will be much more affordable than Goldson and Houston S Glover Quin. Clemons is an upgrade over the current Eagles safeties.
  • STATUS: Re-signed with Miami.
  • CB Keenan Lewis (6'0" 208 lbs) - Lewis is only 26 years old and had a much more consistent year than Sean Smith. While Smith can look like elite at times, he also looks really bad at times (DRC, anyone?). Lewis was the best cover guy in Pittsburgh last season, he led the NFL in pass breakups, and could be a good starting CB for the next 5 years. There may be a lot of competition for his services, so we'll see how much his price gets driven up.
  • CB Derek Cox (6'1" 195 lbs) - Cox has been productive when healthy and he's only 26 years old as well. The Buccaneers are already hot on his tail, but who knows if the Eagles are interested as well. Cox has decent size and would be more affordable than CB Antoine Cason or Smith.
  • RT Eric Winston (6'7" 302 lbs) - He's 29 and coming off a down season. The Chargers and Dolphins are reportedly interested in the RT already, but if he comes at $4 million per season or less, it's a good call for Howie. He would allow Herremans to slide back to RG and provide some security for the Eagles O-Line.
  • TE Fred Davis (6'4" 247 lbs) - He's a similar player to Jared Cook with much less competition. He is coming off a very serious injury, but if the Eagles can get a contract with team security, he'd be a great gamble. He's a vertical threat the Eagles haven't seen at TE, another weapon on offense is never a bad thing, especially at a reasonable rate.
    Chung has always been around the
    football and played at Oregon
  • S LaRon Landry (6'0" 220 lbs) - He's an elite athlete with an injury history. Landry has never been an outstanding cover guy, but he played at a high level as a box safety for NYJ last year. He's a physical presence and many good defenses have that "box safety" (SEA S Kam Chancellor and BAL S Bernard Pollard). The Eagles were interested in Landry last year.
  • S Patrick Chung (5'11" 210 lbs) - Chung was once a versatile play-maker but lost his job last season to Devin McCourty. He's still only 25 years old and could make a fine gamble, especially at a low price-tag.
  • STATUS: Signed with Eagles.
  • S Dawan Landry (6'1" 214 lbs) - Recently cut by the Jaguars, the 30 year old safety is past his prime. However, over the past four years he's averaged about 100 tackles. He's a durable guy and still a solid safety for the next two years. The worst thing he'll be is competition at the position.
  • NT Terrance Knighton (6'3" 330 lbs) - Nicknamed "Pot Roast", the 26 year old isn't short on talent. He's got the size to be a good nose tackle. He flashes at times to be a play-maker, but gets lost on occasion. His work ethic has been an issue, but if Chip Kelly could get Knighton's mind right, he could find his starting NT for the next 4+ years. Worth the risk.
  • STATUS: Agreed in principle with Broncos.
  • DL Desmond Bryant (6'6" 311 lbs) - He's only 27 and has a load of untapped potential. The massive defensive lineman has some off-the-field issues but the Eagles are reportedly interested, among many other teams. Another gamble that might be worth taking.
  • STATUS: Signed with Browns to a 5 year $34 million deal.
  • NT Alan Branch (6'6" 325 lbs) - Branch played NT in the Seahawks' 4-3 Under last season. He knows this type of defense, he's 28 years old and still has a few good years left. He doesn't offer much in the pass-rush, but he'll clog the middle at a good price.
  • S Gerald Sensabaugh (6'1" 212 lbs) - He's not somebody who's going to catch your eye, but he's reliable and productive. He's only 29 years old and has started 60 games over the past four seasons, recording 8 INTs. Let's put it this way, you could do much worse than having Gerald Sensabaugh as your starting safety (cough, Kurt Coleman, cough).
  • DL Jason Jones (6'5" 276 lbs) - He's only 26 years old and was once a heralded youngster. He played in Pete Carroll's 4-3 Under defense last season and offers some pass-rushing skills. At worst, he would add some important depth to the Eagles D-Line although he has already received interest from the Lions and Browns.
Additions to the Sleeper List:
Huff is a productive, talented
safety who could be affordable. 
  • S Michael Huff (6'0" 211 lbs) - He's 30 years old but he's a talented guy. He's started 54 games over the past 4 seasons, recording 10 INTs. He could come cheap and add some competition at the safety position, which is always a good thing. He was named to USA Today's All-Joe Team for 2012. He is a team-player, playing CB for Oakland when their starters went down.
  • S Kenny Phillips (6'2" 217 lbs) - Phillips has good size and he's only 26 years old. The former Giant had a good year in 2011 but was hampered by injuries in 2012. While I like the addition of Patrick Chung, the Eagles still need to add competition at safety.
  • CB Kyle Arrington (5'10" 195 lbs) - Arrington doesn't have great size, but he's been productive for New England. He's only 26 years old and had a 7 INT season in 2011. He's started 40 games for the Pats in the past 3 seasons.

These names might not excite you, but they should. These are productive players would could have a big impact on the 2013 season. Successful organizations don't build their team through expensive free-agents (Mario Williams, Nnamdi Asomugha, Albert Haynesworth) but adding a quality starter at a good price-tag is never a bad option.

* Note: After the Nnamdi Asomugha situation is resolved, presumably soon, the Eagles will have an excess of $40 million in cap space.

* I didn't include H-Back James Casey (6'3" 240 lbs) in my sleeper list because I didn't see the same vision as Chip Kelly. I thought he was a full-back who could catch the ball, since that's how Houston used him. But, according to some scouts, he has Aaron Hernandez potential, style-wise. They plan on moving him all over the field (in the backfield, at TE, in the slot) and utilizing his athleticism. I'm on board.

* Follow me on Twitter at @Matt_Chastain25 and @OfficialEagles_, I'll get ya back!

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