Eagles fan reaction was exciting to witness as Chip and Howie got busy on Thursday, finalizing deals to land some top-notch help on defense.
For the first time since last September, I smelled what the Eagles are cooking…
The Eagles defensive overhaul now includes Connor Barwin, the outside linebacker from the Houston Texans. Also signed were cornerback Cary Williams (former Baltimore Raven) and safety Kenny Phillips (New York Giants), who is coming off a torn ACL repair.
These are quality signings with a true value component. The biggest "if" of the three newest Eagles is Kenny Phillips due to the untested component of his knee rehab. But that's a 1-year deal…so if the knee holds up and Phillips makes a strong comeback, it's all gain with very low risk. A great opportunity for both Phillips and the team to discover the ultimate Win-Win scenario together…
Connor Barwin agreed to a deal worth $36 million over six years, multiple sources confirmed to NJ.com's Jordan Raanan. The 26-year-old is guaranteed $8 million over the first two years of the deal.
Barwin, 6-foot-4, 268 pounds, has 109 tackles and 19 sacks in his four-year career. His best season came in 2009 when he registered 11 sacks, but missed all of the following season due to an ankle injury. The 26-year old had a down year last season in his return from the injury, netting only 4.5 sacks. Part of the reason for his drop in production was his lack of playing time- Barwin didn't start a single game after starting every game of his career prior to last year.
A bigger reason for the drop in production, however, was likely the fact that Barwin dropped into coverage a lot more once he returned from injury.
The Barwin signing is yet another move made with the Eagles' new 3-4 defensive alignment in mind. The Eagles have been busy thus far in free agency, signing eight players, seven on defense, in just three days.
Cary Williams comes from the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens on a three-year deal worth $17 million, according to a source. Williams will make $10.5 over the first two years of the deal. The second year, however, is only guaranteed for injury.
The Cary Williams signing is the one that got me all fired up today. This is a guy whose acquisition I was sure would be stymied by another team in our division.
This young guy can cover and hit and make big plays. He's an overachiever with a chip on his shoulder (no pun intended). He's also very good on special teams. Watching his career evolve over the past 5 years has been a trip for me, as this is a guy who got absolutely no respect when he first started out in the league.
Williams, 28, became the Ravens' top cornerback the second half of the season after injuries to Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith, among others.. Much like the recently-signed Bradley Fletcher, he has good size (6-foot-1) and plays physical.
Williams was a 7th-round pick out of Washburn University (Topeka, Kansas) by the Titans in 2008 and was the 229th overall pick. At his Pro Day, he ran a 4.43 in the'40 and a 1.47 in the 10-yard dash.
He was up and down off the practice squad for the next two years with the Titans. But he was activated for 4 games in October of 2009 and caught the eye of the Ravens, who signed him off the Titans' practice squad in late November of 2009. Williams performed on Ravens special teams for the rest of that season, recording 8 tackles.
In 2010, after a weird 2-game suspension by the NFL for some undisclosed personnel policy violation, Williams made the Ravens' active roster. He began to see more time in the secondary sub-packages.
In 2011, Williams started at corner for the first time in his NFL career. He had a great game against Mike Wallace, but had some less than stellar results covering the deep ball the rest of the season. For his part, Williams began to get a reputation as an aggressive tackler with a knack for forcing fumbles.
By 2012, Williams had honed his intermediate and deep coverage skills into a finer art. Now he was coming up with key interceptions at big moments in big games. Many began to say Williams had finally willed himself into a total package.
Williams looks likely to be paired with Fletcher as the Eagles attempt to become much more physical on the outside. The proof will be in the pudding, of course, but I'm confident we have a guy in Williams who is motivated to prove something to the world.
Kenny Phillips, 26, joins recent addition Patrick Chung at the last level. Once considered a rising star, the 2008 first-round pick has struggled in recent years with knee injuries. He missed most of the 2009 season as he underwent microfracture surgery, and called a 2012 season filled with knee problems a "long, frustrating" year.
Phillips, who spent the first five years of his career with the Giants, agreed to a one-year deal. I'm still not sure what the money part of that deal is. My best guess is it somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million with incentives for a lot more if he makes the active roster. We'll have to come back to those numbers in an update.
Phillips had 263 tackles and eight interceptions as a Giant. The highlight of his tenure was knocking down Tom Brady's last-second pass attempt in the end zone to seal the Giants' victory in Super Bowl XLVI.
A lot of Giants fans are glad to see him go. I guess Phillips had become the 1-year wonder who morphed into a major disappointment. But too many fans blame a player for his injuries…especially knee-related stuff. It's like blaming the victim for causing the crime. This is Phillips' last rodeo in the NFL. I hope he wins it and takes his pain out on the G-Men next Fall.