The biggest name in unrestricted free agency has flown (to) the coop, with free agent defensive end Jevon Kearse reaching a contract agreement with the Eagles.
In a deal that makes Kearse the highest-paid defensive lineman in NFL history, he will sign an eight-year contract worth $66 million. The pass-rush terror nicknamed "The Freak" will receive a signing bonus of $16 million. There are additional roster bonuses of $2 million each in the first two seasons, essentially guaranteeing $20 million of the deal.
Kearse, 27, will earn $24 million in the first three years of the contract.
Flush with more than $25 million in available cap room, Philadelphia nonetheless flew below the radar in its pursuit of Kearse, who the team clearly feels has recovered from a series of injuries that limited him to 18 games over the past two seasons. Despite their need for an outside rusher of Kearse's ilk, the Eagles were never prominently mentioned as a viable suitor for the services of the standout defensive end.
But the Eagles, and in particular team president Joe Banner, arguably the premier salary cap manager in the NFL, quickly made contact with agent Drew Rosenhaus shortly after the midnight start to the signing period. It is believed the two sides negotiated through much of the night and well into Wednesday before striking a deal. The deal is a bit uncharacteristic for the Eagles, who normally don't come out of the blocks so quickly in free agency, and who are not prone to adding such high-profile players to the mix.
Other teams believed to have been involved in the Kearse Sweepstakes were Chicago and Seattle. The Washington Redskins were mentioned around the league as the team that was most likely to land Kearse but, for one of the few times in his stewardship of that franchise, it appears owner Dan Snyder finally met a price tag on which he gagged.
Several league sources told ESPN.com a few hours before Kearse's agreement with the Eagles that the Redskins had ceased their pursuit.
The agreement marks the second blockbuster negotiated by Rosenhaus and brother Jason Rosenhaus this week. On Monday, tailback Clinton Portis, who is being traded from the Broncos to the Redskins, agreed to an eight-year, $50.5 million contract that made him the richest running back in league history.
There is also some irony involved here since Rosenhaus represents Hugh Douglas, the veteran defensive end who exited the Eagles last spring in free agency, signing instead with the Jaguars. While Douglas struggled for the first half of last season, most observers still believe his departure had a negative effect, both on the field and in the locker room, on the Eagles.
Having appeared in three straight NFC title games, and lost all of them, the Eagles seem more intent than ever in capturing a Super Bowl berth in 2004. The addition of Kearse will immediately upgrade the front four, provide a big-time pass-rush threat to a unit that collected 38 sacks in 2003 but didn't have an individual player with more than 7½ sacks, and give innovative coordinator Jim Johnson another weapon for his arsenal.
League sources contended Wednesday afternoon that the Eagles might also explore the possibility of trading for San Francisco wide receiver Terrell Owens.
In five seasons with the Titans, Kearse had 192 tackles and 47½ sacks, with 19 forced fumbles and 19 pass deflections. The former University of Florida star, a first-round pick in 1999, averaged a dozen sacks in his first three seasons, including a league rookie record 14½. But foot injuries in 2002 sidelined him for all but four regular-season games. He missed four games in 2003 with a variety of leg injuries.
Well there was no way the Titans were going to give him that kind of money, so I'd knew he'd be gone. Just glad he went to an NFC team so he doesn't come back to haunt us (unless it's in the Super Bowl).
I'm impressed here. The Eagles needed a big D-lineman (look at all the yards on the ground they gave up, plus they had less than 40 sacks this season), and they got one. Now let's see if they can get a WR. Then maybe we can talk about them getting to (and losing) another NFC Championship game (no teams I like ever seem to win the big one).
I also wonder how Kearse's body will hold up. 18 games over 2 seasons scares me a bit, especially considering the injury bug that bit the Eagles defense last season.
Gravity is a contributing factor in nearly 73 percent of all accidents involving falling objects.
Originally posted by Guru ZimIs Dawkins still with the Eagles? If so... damn. That's not really fair.
Yup. Him and Michael Lewis are the only two secondary guys probably back next year. Taylor and Vincent are UFAs, and it doesn't look like the Iggles will re-sign either one.
Which is not a good thing for the Iggles. I won't complain about getting a healthy Freak, but if they have no experienced corners, that's a big big hole. I'm not so sure that Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown are ready for prime time; neither is the second coming of Izel "Toast" Jenkins, but they will be thoroughly tested.
I have a nagging fear that they got Kearse at least in part so that they can fill the other holes on the cheap, and then say "Whaddya want from us? We went after free agents aggressively -- we got the Freak!" when fans complain about not getting Owens.
"It looks like it was a larger dog with tighter skin, and then someone grabbed him by the anus and pulled him as hard as they could." -- David St. Hubbins of Spinal Tap, explaining the Shar-Pei
This signing makes a lot of sense for the Eagles. They tend to play with the lead so stopping the run is not that big of a deal because when you are up by 10 points most teams will abandon the run. The best way to help the young corners is to have a strong and consistant pass rush. That will force teams to keep a tight end in (double team Kearse) and a running back to pick up a blitzing LB or Safety. If you can force teams to keep 7 guys back protecting the QB then there will be only 3 WR's running routes. If there are 6 guys rushing the QB (4DL, LB, and LB/S) you will have 5 guys back in coverage on the 3 WR's.
Carolina was very successful this year with a 4 man pash rush wich allowed them to put 6 or 7 guys in the secondary. Similar philosophy.
Considering where they were with the cap, I'm pleased that it looks like 20 of 22 starters will be back for Titans. Some other guys will have to step up for those 2 losses though (Carlos Hall & Rien Long probably)
Alright Brain, you don't like me, and I don't like you. But lets just do this, and I can get back to killing you with beer.
It wasn't a case of deliberately picking the AFC -- more so that specific teams I liked (Denver, Philadelphia, Buffalo) OR specific teams I loathed (San Francisco, the Raiders, Washington, Dallas, the Giants) were always present.