Thursday, February 11, 2016

Making sense of the Eagles' LB situation

As you may have seen by now, The Inquirer's Jonathan Tamari is reporting that the Eagles are letting all their free agents walk.

Making sense of the Eagles' LB situation

With Stewart Bradley leaving the Eagles, only two of the team´s linebackers have more than season of experience. (Matt Slocum/AP)
With Stewart Bradley leaving the Eagles, only two of the team's linebackers have more than season of experience. (Matt Slocum/AP)

As you may have seen by now, The Inquirer's Jonathan Tamari is reporting that the Eagles are letting all their free agents walk.

Many of the names on his list are not surprising, but a couple are - primarily Bradley and Rocca.

Let's start with Bradley. There was always a chance the Eagles were going to go this route. After an impressive 2008, Bradley stayed healthy for just 12 games in the past two seasons. And in 2010, even when he was on the field, he was inconsistent.

What a difference a couple years can make. Before 2009, the Eagles touted Bradley as the defense's new leader after Brian Dawkins left. Now, according to the report, he'll be playing elsewhere.

More coverage
Birds' Eye View: Eagles won't re-sign Bradley, others
Photos: NFL free agent linebackers
Eagletarian: Kolb trade will not come today

The immediate question is: Who will the Eagles' linebackers be in 2011?

Here are the ones on the roster (again, assuming all the free agents walk): Jamar Chaney, Moise Fokou, Brian Rolle, Casey Matthews, Keenan Clayton, Rashad Jeanty, Greg Lloyd.

What do you notice about that group? Five are rookies or second-year players. The only exceptions are Fokou and Jeanty.

We are pretty sure Chaney can play, although to be fair, that's based on a handful of games. Fokou was OK as the SAM last year, but he certainly doesn't look to have a Pro Bowl ceiling.

This means one of two things: Either the Eagles will let the young guys battle it out and hope one or two of them step up, or they plan on signing a veteran.

Nick Barnett was informed earlier today that he won't be back with the Packers, and he mentioned Philadelphia as a possible landing spot during a radio interview. I've seen Paul Posluszny's name thrown out there too. And earlier this offseason, Adam Caplan of mentioned Kirk Morrison's name as an option.

The Eagles could add a veteran like one of the guys mentioned above, or they could invest that money elsewhere and let the young guys battle it out. GM Howie Roseman has drafted five linebackers in the last two years. It would not surprise me to see the Eagles throw those guys in the fire. But if that's the direction they choose to go in, the Birds could be looking at a defense that is even more inexperienced than a year ago. Outside of the front four, the potential exists for the Eagles to have five of seven players (among linebackers and defensive backs) be first- or second-year players.

But again, let's see if they add a linebacker before going too overboard.

The Rocca move is surprising too. I thought he had a pretty good year in 2010, and per Football Outsiders, the Eagles had the seventh-ranked punting unit in the NFL. This couldn't have been a money issue. Rocca is 37, but I never thought that mattered much with punters.

Earlier today, the Eagles added undrafted free agent Chas Henry from Florida. He was given the Ray Guy Award as the nation's top punter in 2010.

The Eagles could add a veteran, but as things stand now, Bobby April will enter camp with a rookie field-goal kicker, a rookie punter and no definitive kick returner.

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Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at or by clicking here

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