If fans haven't taken notice, there is one noticeable theme present among most of the players the Eagles have acquired during this very active week of free agency - versatility.
New outside linebacker Connor Barwin might not line up at multiple positions like his former teammate in Houston James Casey, who also joined Barwin in Philadelphia. But as the Eagles look to amp up the pass rush in new defensive coordinator Bill Davis' scheme, Barwin is a high-motor, relentless attacker who can work from both sides of the field.
"I'm excited to play in Philadelphia and the history and the fans that are here," Barwin said. "Then, it's exciting with the weapons that they have here and Chip Kelly and what the possibilities are."
A second-round pick of the Texans out of Cincinnati in 2009, Barwin made an immediate impact notching 4.5 sacks as a rookie defensive end. After an ankle injury cut short his 2010 season, Barwin was moved to outside linebacker with the arrival of new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips in 2011.
Barwin's role expanded when Mario Williams was injured. He took advantage notching a career-high 11.5 sacks rushing mostly from the open side of the field. He was only the second player in franchise history to notch double-digit sacks in a season as he earned USA Today All-Joe Team honors.
Last season, Barwin's role was once again dictated by injuries. He played on both sides, but the injury to middle linebacker Brian Cushing also forced the outside linebackers to bump the tight end instead of just rushing the passer. Barwin's sack total was down because of the change in role, but he still had 15.5 quarterback knockdowns and five quarterback hurries.
Certainly, the Texans wanted to retain his services, but the Eagles were more aggressive offering Barwin a six-year contract.
"Houston wanted to bring me back, but Philadelphia wanted me a little bit more," Barwin said. "That's how I ended up here."
Another common theme is that most of the new players brought in by the Eagles have come from winning programs. The Texans have won back-to-back AFC South Division titles while posting 22 regular seasons victories over the past two seasons. They have also come away with a playoff win in each of the past two seasons. While the Eagles have not enjoyed that much success in the past two campaigns, Barwin noted that "we can rebuild quickly here."
"It doesn't take that long," Barwin said. "It's not complicated. It's very simple. You have to be committed to winning. It's everything you do. The offseason, your preparation during the season, you all have to be on the same page. Teams that aren't winning there's guys fragmented and things like that. When everyone just cares about winning and everybody's committed to the same goal, that's how you have success."
Easing Barwin's transition to Philadelphia is that he played with Casey and fellow linebacker DeMeco Ryans in Houston. He is also the fourth product of the Cincinnati Bearcats. In fact, Barwin was Brent Celek's backup at tight end for two years before head coach Brian Kelly moved Barwin over to the defense.
"He left and went to the NFL before I could take it," Barwin said of Celek's starting job.
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