It is hard to believe there was ever a time without free agency. But there was. The world changed in 1992 when Judge David Doty ruled in favor of the NFL players and free agency was created. The Eagles immediately lost TE Keith Jackson, one of the plaintiffs. True free agency didn’t start until March of 1993. And the football world has been very different ever since.
For PE.com I decided to take a look at the best signings by the Eagles and the best players that left. I went position by position so some of my choices weren’t ideal. I listed Antone Davis on the list of best FAs lost. Was Davis a good OT? No. But the Eagles haven’t lost good OTs in free agency. You have to choose someone. Davis did start after he left here so I went with him.
One player I omitted is Brian Mitchell. And he was a very important signing. He was here from 2000-2002. Mitch gave the STs a major boost and he also brought the right kind of attitude to the team. Mitch was a tough veteran player. He was a natural leader and had a good effect on the young players around him. There are some reports that Mitch was a Redskin before 2000 and then played for the Giants after leaving Philly. I prefer to think that he just appeared out of the mist in 2000 and then returned there when his time in Philly was up. Brian Mitchell was truly a great free agent signing.
What I didn’t write about were the worst FA signings of the last 20 years. Too often I think people get mixed up. They talk about Dhani Jones or James Thrash as bad signings. That’s not the case. Those guys didn’t pan out as hoped, but they were functional starters on some really good teams. This kind of mentality is also true when talking about movies. People will talk about some new film as the worst movie ever. No movie with a big budget is going to be that awful. The budget guarantees you a competent crew and talented actors. You really want to talk about the worst movies ever made, go watch Greaser’s Palace, Manos or The Sinful Dwarf. These films are so bizarre and so poorly made that they are painful to sit through.
Truly bad FA signings are guys that couldn’t become functional starters or even effective role players. Like these guys…
Steve Wallace – OT – How many of you even remember this guy? He played LT for the Niners. And was good. The Eagles signed him in 1996. He was going to man the LT spot and protect Rodney Peete’s backside. Things didn’t exactly work out that way. Wallace was god awful in a preseason game against the Patriots. The Eagles lost 37-10 and Peete took a huge beating. I still remember the game. It was a Saturday afternoon game on NBC. I was stoked to see the guys play, but it turned out to be much closer to a nightmare. Check out this info from a write-up on the game:
“I told my coaches that I feel I’m not in the position I want to be in,” said a humiliated offensive tackle Steve Wallace, who gave up a pair of sacks and watched quarterback Rodney Peete get thumped repeatedly before having to leave the game with a sprained knee.
Wallace almost sounded like a man ready to call it a career, but Rhodes next best option at left tackle is Barrett Brooks, who played there as a rookie last season with mixed results.
Wallace was cut before the regular season. And of course he went back to SF and started for them at LT for 16 games. He was part of the team that beat us in the playoffs, 14-0. Talk about adding insult to injury. He never did start again after the 1996 season.
Erick McMillan – Safety – He was signed for 1993. The Eagles thought Wes and Andre were losing a step. McMillan had 22 INTS and scored 5 TDs in his 5 years as a Jet. He seemed like an ideal fit. Oops. He never started a game in Philly and only played here for 6 weeks. This is the very definition of a FA bust…someone that can’t get on the field.
Tim Harris – OLB/DE – The man we signed to be Reggie’s replacement. Harris had 17 sacks in 1992 and was a star pass rusher for the Packers and Niners. However, he was a better fit in the 3-4 and he was awful as an Eagle. He played in just 4 games and had 0 sacks.
Steve Smith – WR – I can’t say I had sky high expectations, but I certainly expected more than we got. His signature play came against the Cardinals when he went to the ground on 3rd/long instead of fighting for the final couple of yards, which it looked like he could have gotten. That play is simply despicable.
Stacy Andrews – OL – Big. Athletic. And injured. The Eagles rolled the dice on Andrews and came up snake eyes. Andrews made Jay Ratliff look like a HOF player. Stacy played in 10 games with 2 starts as an Eagle. Bigger bust than Dolly Parton.
Chris Boniol – PK – I thought the Eagles made a genius move when they signed Boniol. He was a RFA and great kicker for Dallas. The Eagles signed him to an offer-sheet that Dallas couldn’t match. It felt like we stole a weapon. In his final 2 years with Dallas, Boniol was 59 for 64 on FGs. And he made some clutch kicks as well. Boniol was just 36 for 52 as an Eagle. The big issue? Most of his kicks in Dallas were inside of 40 yards. The Eagles offense was not as good, which meant longer kicks. He was just 7 for 20 on FGs in the 40-49 range in his 2 years as an Eagle. Beware of Greeks bearing gifts or the Cowboys letting you have their PK.
Darrin Smith – LB – The Cowboys were famous for their speedy defensive players in the mid-90’s. Smith was one of the fastest. He was the WLB for them and covered a lot of ground. He was an active tackler, but could also be a playmaker. The Eagles signed him before the draft in 1997 to a 1-year deal. Ray Rhodes put him at SLB since William Thomas was already the WLB. The hope was that the 2 speedy OLBs would be great in coverage and fly around the field. Smith only played 7 games before getting hurt. He was a disappointment on the field even before then. Smith went to Seattle and was great playing for Jim Johnson that year (5 sacks, 3 INTs).
Mike McMahon – QB – I was excited when the Eagles signed him. McMahon had shown some raw ability in Detroit. I thought coming here would mean he would get better coaching and be in a better environment. Unfortunately, Mike got here in 2005 and the TO meltdown really changed that whole team/season. McMahon had a lot of injuries that hurt him. At one point he had a rookie LT, rookie RB and his top receiver was Darnerian McCants. That’s not good. Still, he was in his 5th NFL season and had starting experience. I certainly expected better. He completed just 45 percent of his passes. Yikes.
George Hegamin – OG – Hegamin started 9 games for Dallas in 1997 and looked good. He showed very good run blocking ability The Eagles signed him in 1998, thinking they had stolen a good young player from a quality organization. Oops. Hegamin started just 6 games for the awful offense in ’98. He then got in Reid’s doghouse in Training Camp the next year. He famously had to push the sled up and down the field by himself after practice. Hegamin was then let go when the roster was cut down to 53.
Matt Schobel – TE – Possibly my least favorite Eagle of all time. He made up for his lack of good hands with his bad blocking. And yet…he somehow was on the roster for 3 years. Schobel must have had pictures of Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg giving mustache rides (just hopefully not to each other). Schobel wasn’t supposed to be an impact player, but rather a good #2 TE. He started 11 games, caught 27 passes and scored 3 TDs. In my highly unbiased opinion (yeah, right), Schobel had 237 dropped passes and missed blocks combined. He also hates Christmas, puppies, Brian Dawkins, Reggie White, Funyuns, America and cute little kids. Bad, bad person.
Vince Young – QB – I wasn’t expecting football greatness from Vince. And I sure didn’t get it. He came into the WAS game when Vick got hurt. Andy/Marty stupidly called a pass with us backed up deep and Vince threw it right to the Skins. Luckily, Rex Grossman threw it right back to Kurt Coleman. Vince went 1-3 as a starter. And of course his greatest sin of all was…”Dream Team”. Ugh.
Nnamdi Asomugha – CB – I can’t ignore Nnamdi, even though he started for 2 years and had some games when he was terrific. We saw flashes of the guy from Oakland. We just didn’t see that guy enough. The hype with Nnamdi was over the top. The NFL treated him like royalty, as teams made their pitch to his people an then waited for a response. He wasn’t playing games or being arrogant. Nnamdi just had a lot of suitors and things to consider. I was beyond ecstatic when he chose Philly. That’s what makes his pedestrian play so torturous. We expected an elite CB and instead got an erratic one. Nnamdi wasn’t an awful player or anything close, but he certainly is one of the most disappointing free agents of all time.
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So who did I leave out?
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Were you guys happy with what the Sixers did last night? Seemed like a good night to me.