The Eagles acquired former Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans in exchange for a fourth round draft pick and a swap of third round picks, sources confirmed Tuesday.
The Eagles, who had two fourth round selections in the upcoming draft, gave Houston their fourth pick in that round to get Ryans. The Texans also got the 77th overall pick while the Eagles now select 89th in the exchange of third rounders.
The team later officially announced the trade. Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com first reported the news.
The trade for Ryans gives the Eagles the legitimate starting middle linebacker they sorely lacked a year ago. The 27-year-old was a two-time Pro Bowl player early in his career (2007, 2009), but he ruptured his Achilles tendon in 2010.
He got off to a slow start last season and took some time getting used to playing in a newly-implemented 3-4 scheme, but he showed signs of his old self late in the year. Still, Ryans said he felt out of place in a 3-4. Now he gets his chance to move back into the middle alone.
He will have to pass a physical with the Eagles on Wednesday, however, for the trade to go through. Ryans is slated to earn approximately $12 million in base salary over the next two seasons.
"DeMeco is a proven Pro Bowl linebacker in this league and we’re excited to be able to plug him into the middle of our defense,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "He’s been the signal caller and a leader on a very good Texans defense for the last several years. He’s a tough, instinctive football player and he’ll be a great fit for our team."
The Eagles, expected by some to be players in free agency, took a pass on the linebackers on the market. Stephen Tulloch re-signed with Detroit today. Curtis Lofton remains unsigned. David Hawthorne and London Fletcher are also still available.
But the Eagles chose another route to get the linebacker that many thought they needed in the middle of their defense. They started training camp with rookie Casey Matthews in the middle, but he lost that job early in the season. Jamar Chaney slid over from strong-side into the middle and continued to play all three downs, but he lost playing time as the season wore on.
With the 6-foot-1, 248-pound Ryans on board, Chaney will likely move back to strong-side. Rookie Brian Rolle ended last season as the starting weak-side linebacker. Adding Ryans won't likely preclude the Eagles from addressing linebacker in the draft, although it is unlikely they'll expend a first-round pick at the position.
Ryans, originally a second-round draft pick in 2006, started in his first game as a pro and didn't miss a start for 70 games until he blew out his Achilles in 2010. He was a team captain starting in 2010. Ryans leaves Houston as the franchise's all-time leader with 637 tackles while also contributing eight sacks, six forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and two interceptions in his six-year career.
"We're thrilled to be able to add a young and productive linebacker in DeMeco Ryans," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. "We'd like to thank [Houston general manager] Rick Smith and the Texans. Once we found out that he could be available to us in a trade, we quickly found a way to work together to produce a good outcome for both teams."
After Ryans' physical -- should he pass -- he will meet with the media at the NovaCare Complex along with Reid and Roseman.