Recapping the Eagles’ First Day Signings

Posted: March 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

ImageThe first day of free agency came and went yesterday, and the Philadelphia Eagles were among the most active teams. No, they did not spend the big bucks on a high-priced pickup like Mike Wallace or Dannell Ellerbe. But, they did make five major moves that will impact the team this upcoming season. Below is a summary of the transactions that Howie Roseman and Co. made on the first day of the new league year:

FS Patrick Chung, New England Patriots

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Chung has tons of potential. But, recurring injury issues have limited the talented safety to just 20 games out of a possible 32 the past two seasons. A former Oregon Duck when Chip Kelly was Offensive Coordinator there, Chung brings playoff experience and a no holds barred attitude to the Philadelphia secondary. As mentioned, injuries are a concern, and one would hope the Eagles did their homework before committing long-term to Chung. When healthy, he is sound both in coverage and in the running game, although he is exceptional at neither. There is no doubt, however, that the former Patriot represents a dramatic upgrade from Nate Allen at the position. That is something Eagles fans can be excited about.

FB/TE James Casey, Houston Texans

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Looking to add more versatility to the Eagles’ offense, the front-office went out and snagged James Casey within an hour after free agency opened. The former Rice Owl was underutilized in the Houston vertical offense, but should be an integral part of Philadelphia’s zone-read offense. Casey put together the finest season of his four year career in 2012, finishing with career highs in catches (34), receiving yards (330), and touchdowns (3). The biggest draw to Casey, other than his ability to play both fullback and tight end, is his nose for the first down marker. More than half (18) of his 34 receptions in 2012 went for first downs. That comes a year after 11 of Casey’s 18 receptions went for a first down. In the playoffs, Casey caught four balls in two games, with three of them bringing up a fresh set of downs. This is a great, under-the-radar signing that should boost the Eagles’ passing game.

NT Isaac Sopoaga

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Big Isaac Sopoaga joins the Eagles on a multi-year deal fresh off an NFC Championship in San Francisco. The 6’2, 330 lb road grader had spent the entirety of his nine-year NFL career in the Bay Area. He has been the starter at nose tackle for one of the best 3-4 defenses the past few years, and fills an immediate need in the middle of the defensive line for Billy Davis’ defense. Like Casey, Sopoaga is also versatile. He has spent some downs at fullback, lead blocking for Frank Gore on short-yardage downs. In October, 2011, Sopoaga even caught a pass from the fullback position, recording a key first down in the fourth quarter of San Francisco’s victory over the Browns, whom Davis was coaching with at the time.

CB Bradley Fletcher, St. Louis Rams

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Bradley Fletcher will turn 27-years old this June. The former Iowa Hawkeye has spent the first four years of his career in St. Louis, after being a third round pick of theirs in 2009. A dynamite bump-and-run cover corner, Fletcher tore his ACL early in his career, but, has rebounded to a point where the Eagles felt comfortable giving him a chance in the secondary. His finest season came in 2010, when the 6’0 corner recorded 75 tackles and four interceptions before blowing his knee out. Last season, Fletcher played in all 16 games, recording 28 tackles, a sack, and an interception.

Other News

– With all of these moves, the best news from Tuesday may have been the reports that OT King Dunlap signed with San Diego. The walking, talking holding call will enjoy the sunny Sunday with the Chargers.

– There were reports that Philadelphia was interested in Sopoaga’s teammate on San Francisco’s defensive line, Ricky Jean-Francois. The big defensive tackle is versatile, having played 3-4 defensive end when Justin Smith was injured for the 49ers. The team could be interested in him as a 3-4 end next to Sopoaga and opposite Fletcher Cox.

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