How can you not love the deal that brings two-time Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans to the Eagles for a fourth round draft pick?
The Eagles, as usual, have a ton of draft picks. And the Eagles, as usual, had a serious problem at the linebacker position.
Even until today, it was widely assumed that the Eagles would look to move on either Curtis Lofton, Stephen Tulloch, or London Fletcher once their asking prices dropped, or would look at Luke Kuechly if he were available at their spot in the first round of the draft.
Fletcher is 37 years old. Lofton has been described by some around the league as a two-down linebacker, which isn't what the Eagles need. Tulloch has played behind the wide-nine, but clearly has an inflated opinion of his value, and the Lions may yet retain him to stay in Jim Schwartz's wide-nine scheme. I'm a big Kuechly fan, but any rookie comes with question marks.
Ryans himself is not without question marks. He missed ten games in 2010 after rupturing his Achilles tendon, and recorded just 46 tackles in 16 starts last year (though, it should be noted, the Texans switched to a 3-4 under Wade Phillips before the season, which de-emphasized Ryan's role.
But before that? Oh, my. Ryans was a tackling machine, recording 86 or more solo tackles in each of his first four seasons. He was named the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2006, and made the Pro Bowl in 2007 and 2009.
Make no mistake, he hasn't been much of a big-play guy, recording just 8.5 sacks and two interceptions in his career. But I can think of plenty of times last year, as opposing backs ripped through the middle of the Eagles defense for huge gains, when I thought to myself, "Wow, it sure would be nice to have a real starting middle linebacker."
If Ryans can regain even 85 percent of his pre-injury form, the Eagles will have plugged that hole for the foreseeable future. In the mean time, they gave up just a fourth round draft pick.
The Eagles last ten fourth round picks have been Casey Matthews, Alex Henery, Trevard Lindley, Keenan Clayton, Mike Kafka, Clay Harbor, Mike McGlynn, Quintin Demps, Jack Ikegwuonu, and Max Jean-Gilles.
There are a couple of erstwhile contributors on that list, but it's not exactly a who's who of impact players. I'd say the Eagles got themselves a steal.