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Appreciating DT Mike Patterson

Defensive tackle Mike Patterson is commonly referred to as one of the most underrated players on the Eagles defense. Since he was the 31st overall selection in the 2005 NFL Draft, one with not a whole lot of fanfare since the Eagles were fresh off of their Super Bowl appearance, Patterson has played in every single game since he was drafted amassing 348 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries and a 98-yard touchdown. In addition, the Eagles' run defense has been much improved over the past few seasons. Since 2007, the Eagles have the sixth-best run defense allowing just 94 yards a game.

But the Eagles knew early on that Patterson was going to be an important part of this defense and they wanted him in midnight green for a long time. In 2006, just his second season, Patterson inked a seven-year extension becoming the first member of the 2005 draft class to sign an extension. What's funny is that since Patterson signed, not too many of his classmates from the first round of that draft have been extended. In fact, Patterson is one of only three first-round draft picks from the 2005 season to sign an extension. Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports took an in-depth look and 20 of the first-round picks are actually scheduled to become free agents at the end of this upcoming season. But without a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, those players will only be restricted free agents instead of unrestricted free agents. Under the current terms of the CBA, one only needs four years of experience to become an unrestricted free agent. In an uncapped year, which 2010 would currently be, the years of experience needed for unrestricted free agency rises from four to six.

But with Patterson in for the long haul, that's one piece of business that the Eagles will not have to be concerned about. The other two players to sign extensions from the first-round draft class of 2005 are Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and San Diego's Luis Castillo. The No. 1 overall pick, San Francisco's Alex Smith, just had his contract reworked. Chicago used the fourth-overall pick on running back Cedric Benson, but he was released and signed last year with the Bengals. He signed a two-year deal to stay with Cincinnati this past off-season. Five players, including Adam "Pacman" Jones, are either free agents or have retired.

-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 9:25 a.m., July 18

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