Is it obsession with the NFL, the compressed free agent frenzy with the end of the lockout or “FREE URGENCY“?
Wasting no time whatsoever, the Eagles have opened their new football year by confirming the signing of eight undrafted rookie free agents, with more promised. That group is WR Perry Baker, WR DeAndre Brown, RB Graig Cooper, P Chas Henry, QB Jerrod Johnson, DE Ced Thornton, WR Terrance Turner, TE Martell Webb and LB Brandon Peguese. Rumors of that ninth free agent include allusions to a former Iowa receiver who set university records but was left out of the 2011 Draft after a December arrest for possession of illegal drug paraphernalia.
These signings fill a lot of depth positions VERY quickly and should dispel some of the rumors involving marquee names like Reggie Bush, Plaxico Burress and Brett Favre, which were all ridiculous suggestions for an Eagles team desperate for defense while teeming with offensive weapons. Nate Allen, Brandon Graham, Kurt Coleman and Quentin Mikell all pose questions.
Fantasy football fans might be more interested in big names but what the Eagles have displayed is a shrewd group of signings in anticipation of adding larger ticket pieces on defense. Yesterday’s report that former Minnesota DE Ray Edwards might be a top priority for the Eagles (http://www.prosportsblogging.com/2011/07/25/back-in-business-on-the-field/) would address the need to balance Trent Cole on the defensive line. Albert Haynesworth and Jason Babin have been rumored to reunite with their former position coach (Jim Washburn) from Tennessee. Kevin Kolb has been rumored in trades to either Arizona for Dominique Rodgers Cromartie plus a conditional pick or perhaps Seattle in a deal for Marcus Trufant. Philadelphia seems to be playing teams against one another for the best return package which might include offers from San Francisco, Minnesota, Miami or even Cleveland. Who would be signed as a backup veteran QB if Kolb is dealt or might Kolb simply remain to play out the final year of his Eagles contract? Would Brett Favre be a backup? What about Donovan McNabb or Trent Edwards? More likely it would be Tavaris Jackson, Kellen Clemons, Vince Young or Kyle Orton? This is a team that once went into battle with backups Ty and Koy Detmer so why spend money on high-priced backups behind Michael Vick when Mike Kafka could hold the clipboard? Has everyone forgotten about Nnamdi Asomugha, Jonathan Joseph and Stewart Bradley?
All of that remains speculative. What we do know is that the newest Eagles include:
* WR Perry Baker, from Fairmont State in West Virginia, is 6-2 and a wispy, 167 LBS. He finished his career with 90 catches for 1,552 yards and 19 TD with 367 added yards & 3 TD rushing. He has been clocked at under 4.4 in the 40 and earned an invite to the East-West Shrine Game.
* P Chas Henry won the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s best punter while at Florida. He punted 40 times for 1,892 yards (47.3 average) and 14 of his 34 punts (41.2%) went 50 yards or more.
* QB Jerrod Johnson is career leader in passing and total offense at Texas A&M. After going undrafted in April, he was chosen first in the UFL draft. His college completion % was .586 and he threw for 8,011 yards with 67 TDs and 27 INT. He would stand behind Mike Kafka on the depth chart should Kevin Kolb be traded or could offer extra value in dealing for a veteran QB.
* LB Brandon Peguese, from Hampton, transferred from South Florida to Hampton following his freshman season and went on to register 179 tackles and 18 sacks in three seasons. The Eagles linebacker needs have been well-documented. Free agent names include former Green Bay veteran Nick Barnett, Cardinals ILB Gerald Hayes, Tampa’s potential salary cap casualties (Quincy Black or JD Folsom) as well as incumbents Jamar Chaney and Stewart Bradley.
*Derrell Johnson-Koulianos or “DJK,” as he is known, is an interesting story. He is the all-time leading receiver in Iowa school history with 173 receptions for 2,616 yards. He probably would have been a mid-round pick in the draft, but was arrested on multiple drug charges last December. He was suspended for the team’s bowl game. The charges included marijuana, cocaine and prescription drugs. DJK eventually pled guilty to marijuana possession and the other charges were dropped. He was sentenced to a year of probation and fined.
*DeAndre Brown, WR was reportedly a target of several teams, including New Orleans. He is big at nearly 6-6 and 240 pounds. He missed seven games last season, as a junior, with a leg injury, and then opted to enter the draft and forego his senior year. He finished second on Southern Miss career charts in TD receptions (24), third in receiving yards (2,207) and fifth in catches (134) in basically 2 1/2 seasons. Bradley Cooper and Jason Avant fill the depth chart behind DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin but both Brown and DJK could easily stick with the Eagles. This could finally dispel the myth that Plaxico Burress is coming to Philadelphia. There is talk that DeSean Jackson may even consider holding out until his rookie contract gets re-negotiated one year early. Jackson and Burress are both represented by Drew Rosenhaus.
* Graig Cooper, RB, Miami: Cooper was a potent runner who probably would have been drafted were it not for a torn ACL in December 2009. He returned last season but rushed for only 165 yards after leading the Hurricanes for his first three seasons. Eldra Buckley, Stanley Havili and Dion Lewis will vie for the backup spots behind LeSean McCoy. Fullback Leonard Weaver is still rehabbing from a career-threatening knee injury in the 2010 opening game. Rumors regarding Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter are completely unconfirmed.
* Cedric Thornton, DL, Southern Arkansas: Weight 309 pounds and stands 6-3. As a junior, he had 8.5 sacks and led the Division II school with 80 tackles. As a senior, he was third on the team with 52 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Would Albert Haynesworth be worth ten times the money after 8 years in the league or do you take a flyer on Thornton instead?
* Terrance Turner, WR, Indiana: Stands 6-3. Had 67 catches for 681 yards with three touchdowns. If Chad Hall or Jason Avant opted to play elsewhere Turner would compete with “DJK” and DeAndre Brown for the final receiver/special teams spot.
* Martell Webb, TE, Michigan: Has size at 6-4, 268, but finished his college career with a total of nine passes for 111 yards. Clay Harbor, Brent Celek and Cornelius Ingram were all on the roster in 2010 and are familiar with the playbook. Ingram has rarely seen the playing field due to repeated injuries and Webb could slip into that third spot on the depth chart.
The Denver Broncos will release former Eagles running back Correll Buckhalter, a league source told the Denver Post which reported this week. The 32-year-old Buckhalter, who has had an injury plagued career, was set to make $1.92 million for the 2011 season. The Broncos have several younger options at the position and are expected to add via free agency.
The Seattle Seahawks will release former Eagles offensive lineman Stacy Andrews, the Seattle Times is reporting. He started 12 games for the Seahawks after being acquired at the end of training camp in a trade with the Eagles. Coming off knee surgery, Andrews signed a hefty free agent contract and was a disappointment in his only season with the Birds.
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org