Good news for Colts fans, former Eagles' DT Corey Simon will now help firm up a defense that NFL experts said had cost the Colts a chance at an AFC championship. Simon has apparently agreed to a multi-year deal.
Simon is not, however, the second coming of Warren Sapp in his prime, as his agent, Roosevelt Barnes, suggested in the linked article. He is a good DT and a durable one at that, as he only missed two games in his five years in the Cradle of Liberty despite having had surgery on both shoulders while in college. Yes, he has gone to the Pro Bowl, but last year he didn't arrive to the Birds in shape, took a while to get there, and was outplayed by three other Eagles' DTs -- fellow starter Darwin Walker, Sam Rayburn and Hollis Thomas. In fact, it was the play of those three, plus rookie Mike Patterson from USC, that gave the Eagles' comfort to remove the franchise tag from Simon and let him go. (Counterpoint on this: See the "opposing scout's report" in this weeks SI's NFL preview, in which the scout opines that the Eagles are thin on the DL; the counterpoint to that is that the prevailing wisdom in Philadelphia going into training camp, even with Jerome McDougle's recovery from gunshot wounds, is that the Eagles had unusual depth at DL).
Who is right? Who benefits?
Simon is workmanlike, and when he's on, he's an excellent DT. One question is whether he's in shape and, if he isn't, how long it will take him to get there. Another is that his best season was when he was a rookie and recorded 7.5 sacks. That's far from implying that he's had a downhill slide, but you have to examine his career performance and draw your own conclusions. That said, Simon has to be an upgrade for the Colts, and he's a very good citizen to boot.
The Eagles have made very smart personnel decisions during the Andy Reid era, and I've blogged about them before. Hugh Douglas was riding high a few years ago, wanted a big contract when his was up, and didn't get one. Flew to Jacksonville, had a bad year, was let go before last season and ends up as a backup on the Eagles. He had clearly overestimated his market worth. Before that, Jeremiah Trotter wanted huge bucks from the Birds. The Eagles let him fly to prodigal son Daniel Snyder's open-wallet policy in Washington, where he struggled for two seasons and was cut. Came back to the Birds for far less money (having personally lobbied Andy Reid while Reid was on vacation fishing) and played great last year. They let Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent go the free agent route last year, replaced them with two all-pros (Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown), and Taylor was cut in pre-season by Seattle this year. Vincent, a classy player, is in the final years of his career with Buffalo. They might have missed when they let LB Shawn Barber go to Kansas City as a free agent, as they missed when they signed Nate Wayne and Levon Kirkland as free agent linebackers. But they didn't miss when they traded disgruntled OL John Welbourn to KC, either.
Did the Eagles know something? Do their algorithms tell them about a player's useful life based upon the grind at his position and his injury history? Are they properly confident in the core of four DTs they are keeping for sure, two of whom have issues with injuries (Thomas is oft-injured, and Rayburn has a nasty hyperextended elbow problem now)?
Time will tell. History is on their side.
This may be a move that benefitted both teams. The Colts clearly will get an upgrade at DT, while the Eagles can give meaningful playing time to excellent players in their own right, one of whom, Patterson, might surpass Simon's accomplishments (many Eagles fans didn't think that Sheppard and Brown could be better than Vincent and Taylor, but they're every bit as good, if not better in some aspects of their game). In addition, the Eagles free up cap space, which, according to what I've heard, can be rolled over and used in a subsequent year if you don't use it in a current year. That explains how the Eagles gave big contracts to T.O. and Jevon Kearse before last season, as they have had a reputation for always being under the cap. That also could enable them to lock up SS Michael Lewis to a long-term deal, as well as free up money to sign an excellent free agent OT after this season, as both starting tackles -- Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan -- are over 30.
Corey Simon will be missed in Philadelphia for many reasons.
But the Eagles usually find a way to move on.
And that's a hallmark of an outstanding organization.