The Philadelphia Eagles are on the hunt for younger and cheaper talented, as evidenced by the release of two of the team’s veteran defense tackles on Monday.
Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins were both informed that there tenure with the Birds had ended. Patterson has been with Philadelphia since he was drafted by the team in 2005 out of USC. The 29-year-old played in 115 games (99 starts) a and racked up 551 tackles, 16.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries over his eight seasons with the team. Jenkins joined the team in the now infamous free agent signing spree during the summer of 2011.
Patterson has battled and overcome AVM, a rare condition involving an abnormal tangling of nerves around the brain, that caused him to have a frightening seizure at Lehigh University during training camp in the summer of 2011. Patterson played that season and then underwent brain season in 2012, missing much of the ’12 season.
General manager Howie Roseman spoke highly of the long-time Eagle following the release.
“Mike Patterson is one of the toughest players I have ever been around in the National Football League. He has overcome many obstacles throughout his career and I have the upmost respect for him because of it. Coach Kelly and I each had great conversations with him today. He is a class act. He gave this organization eight great seasons of hard work and dedication and we wish him all the best as he continues his career in this league.”
Patterson demonstrated that poise and class by issuing a statement to fans following his release.
“I want to thank the fans for all of their support over eight years in Philadelphia. It is never easy to say goodbye to a fan base that supported me no matter what. My goal was to come to work every day to try and make the Philadelphia Eagles the best organization we could be. The Eagles organization has treated me and my family with nothing but respect since the day I was drafted and I wish Mr. Lurie, Howie, the new coaches and all of my teammates all the best going forward. I will miss them all and I will always have a place in my heart for the Eagles and for the city of Philadelphia.”
Jenkins spent seven seasons with the Packers before his two seasons with the Birds. Though a newcomer to the team, Jenkins quickly stepped up and played a quiet leadership role to his teammates during the difficult 2011 and 2012 campaigns. His strong play helped a struggling defense both years.
The 32-year old Jenkins recorded 61 tackles (40 solo) and 5.5 sacks in 2011. In 2012, he had 51 (28 solo) and 4 sacks.
Roseman’s statement about Jenkins’ release:
He has been a very productive player in this league for a long time but we felt it in our team’s best interests that we go in a different direction. By releasing him at this point, it gives he and his agent more time to sign on with another team. We wish Cullen and his family all the best as he continues his NFL career.
Part of the business — they want to try to get younger, go a different route with the new staff. I’m just appreciative of the opportunity the last couple years. Sorry it didn’t work out the way you wanted it to, but it’s the business side of it, time to move on now.
The Eagles are widely expected to switch to a 3-4 defense under new head coach Chip Kelly. Though Jenkins played in 3-4 in Green Bay, neither he nor Patterson are expected to be as appropriate to make the switch to an end.
There is also the matter of salary. Jenkins was scheduled to earn $5.5 million in 2013 had he stayed in Philadelphia. He will receive $1.5 million unless he signs for more elsewhere. Jenkins was scheduled to earn $5.5 million this season. Patterson’s contract was signed through 2016 with base salaries of $2.9 million, $3.65 million, $4.9 million and $6.25 million over the next four years.
Wishing the best to both Patterson and Jenkins. Thanks for the hard work put in during your time in Philadelphia.