The Eagles re-signed Nate Allen to a 1-year deal.
Some will hate this deal, but it really does make sense. Allen isn’t being looked at as “the answer”. The Eagles brought him back to compete for a spot. If Allen plays well enough, he could start. If someone else beats him out, Allen becomes a good backup. There is low risk with this move. The reward isn’t likely to be great, but Allen can be an effective starter.
The hope is that Allen will build off his 2013 season, when he played his best football since 2010. Allen took to the new system and responded well to the new coaching staff. They were able to get him to play better. Allen still has upside. He’s never going to be Brian Dawkins, but he can get better if he’ll be a bit more consistent.
Allen’s good moments are impressive. His sack against KC caught me by surprise. Allen flew up the field to get Alex Smith. The INT vs the Cardinals showed good downfield ball skills. His issue is still mostly tackling. There are times when he is too hesitant. There are other times when he doesn’t get into proper position. Allen will be too upright and that leads to him lunging or simply missing his target.
The Eagles work on tackling every day. It is possible that Allen will get better in this area during the spring and summer. Allen also isn’t as physical as you’d like a Safety to be. That’s never going to change. You have to live with the fact that he’s just not a big hitter.
By only giving Allen a 1-year deal, the Eagles are going to keep him motivated. Allen must play well this year, whether as a starter or backup. He needs to impress someone to earn a job in 2015, whether as an Eagle or elsewhere.
Safety is a better looking position now than last year.
* Malcolm Jenkins – versatile, productive, reliable player
* Nate Allen – returning to the same staff and system for the first time as an NFL player
* Earl Wolff – now a 2nd year player, can focus on getting better instead of just learning the system
* Chris Maragos – talented backup coming from an elite defense (SEA)
* Keelan Johnson – former practice squad player who could challenge for a spot…familiar with the system
There is still a strong likelihood the Eagles will invest an early pick on a Safety. The thing I like most about this is that the team isn’t looking to one guy to come in and fix the position. They are acquiring and developing a group of players. If there was a truly elite player available, you go get him. When that’s not an option, build up the overall position.
There are no guarantees that the moves will work, but I sure feel better about the position than last year.
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There are still some OLBs on the market who could be of interest.
* Shaun Phillips
* Rob Jackson
* O’Brien Schofield
Phillips is the best pass rusher. Jackson might be the most effective backup. Schofield is the youngest.
I have no idea if the Eagles have any interest in them. The Eagles could have a call to the agents of these players, requesting a chance to match any deals. Or the Eagles could be slow-playing the market, waiting to see if the price on these players bottoms out. The less fun possibility is that the Eagles simply have no interest in these guys.
None of them would come here to start, but they could be good role players. I’m still in favor of trading Brandon Graham for a draft pick so the team can focus on OLBs.
Why not Anthony Spencer? He’s coming off micro-fracture surgery and that is brutally tough to recover from. Spencer is 30 years old. He has been an average pass rusher, with the exception of 2012, when he had 11 sacks. Spencer mainly played the LOLB spot for Dallas. That meant he mostly faced the RT. It is easier to do that than beating LTs.
I would be open to taking a look at Spencer. My guess is that the Eagles simply see him as a player that isn’t worth adding at ROLB. He’s never been an impact rusher. Can he become one when coming off an ACL tear? Seems unlikely. If you did have a stud rusher, Spencer would be a good complementary piece. If you could get him to sign a 1-year deal for a cheap price, he could absolutely be of interest. Spend the 2014 season watching him and then decide whether he’s the right guy for the future. Most likely, some other team will sign him and be comfortable with his pass rush skills.