The Philadelphia Eagles have gotten their linebacker, ladies and gentlemen. In a trade with the Houston Texans on Tuesday, Philadelphia acquired 2-time Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans (6-1, 247) from the Houston Texans in exchange for a 4th round draft pick in 2012. The teams also swapped 3rd round choices this year, meaning that the Eagles now possess the 89th selection overall, while the Texans have the Eagles’ 77th overall pick.
The move was a surprise to everyone but is one with little downside. Ryans is a tremendous defensive talent and is also known as a great leader–exactly what the Eagles need. Indeed, Ryans is Houston’s all-time leader in tackles and was the team’s captain. A great acquisition all around.
While the Texans call the move win-win for both teams, it seems pretty clear that Philadelphia got the better end of this transaction.
Head coach Andy Reid was pleased at the acquisition, as the struggling linebacker corps was one of the teams most glaring issues in the 2011 season. Said Reid,
“DeMeco is a proven Pro Bowl linebacker in this league and we’re excited to be able to plug him into the middle of our defense. He’s been the signal caller and a leader on a very good Texans defense for the last several years. He’s a tough, instinctive football player and he’ll be a great fit for our team.”
A MIKE that has experience at the position and in the NFL. What a novel idea.
Ryans collegiate career was with Alabama. He was the 33rd overall pick in 2006, drafted by the Texans. He established himself as force from his earliest moments in the NFL, named AP’s Defensive Rookie of the Year for the 2006 season. That year he lead the Texans in tackles (156), as well as having 3.5 sacks and an interception.
Ryans missed much of the 2010 season with an Achilles injury, but played all 16 games in 2011.
Houston switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense last year, and it was felt that Ryans didn’t do all that the team had hoped in terms of the adjustment. Some have pointed to concerns about lingering effects from the injury and their impact in his struggles last season. Philadelphia clearly does not share those concerns.
With the move, Philadelphia has fulfilled perhaps the biggest priority of the offseason. And they didn’t go with the cheapest option they could find, though it seems that they did cut a great deal overall. Per Adam Caplan, Ryans’ salary will be as follows:
2012: 5.9 M
The deal has no guaranteed money beyond the first year.
The Eagles showed with this move that they were all-in on the need for an experienced MLB. The Daily News‘ Les Bowen called Ryans “the most dynamic player the Birds have acquired to man the middle at least since the heyday of Jeremiah Trotter, a decade or so ago.”
Former Philadelphia LB-turned radio host Ike Reese? A huge fan of the move. He told Bowen,
“In a 4-3 defense, especially in this Wide 9, I think he’s going to have the ability to flow from tackle to tackle. I think his range is so much better than what they’ve had here, maybe since Seth Joyner [in 1986-93] The speed that he will be able to bring – Jeremiah Trotter didn’t move as fast as this guy moves, in Trotter’s prime.”
The move gets another stamp of approval from o-lineman Evan Mathis, who played with Ryans in college, calling him a “great player who is also one of the best team leaders I’ve been around.”
What Philadelphia would ultimately do to fix the dire situation with the linebackers was the biggest concern of the offseason. And knowing how the Birds love to invest in that position (please note the sarcasm), we were all worried that the Eagles would, once again, not fully invest in the position and get someone okay, but not great.
In times like these, it’s so nice to be wrong.