In a move designed to augment the heart of the defense, the Eagles acquired two-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans in a trade from the Houston Texans on Tuesday. In exchange, the Texans received a fourth-round pick (originally acquired from Tampa Bay) in the 2012 NFL Draft. The Eagles and Texans also swap third-round picks this year.
With this piece added to the puzzle, the Eagles defense is poised to build upon a 2011 season in which it finished in the top 10 in both points and yards allowed. The 6-1, 247-pound Ryans is the total package as he brings size, athleticism, leadership, experience and production to the Eagles. Ryans signed a six-year deal with the Texans in March 2010 that runs through the 2015 season.
"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," said head coach Andy Reid. "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."
"We're thrilled to be able to add a young and productive linebacker in DeMeco Ryans," said general manager Howie Roseman. "We'd like to thank [Houston general manager] Rick Smith and the Texans. Once we found out that he could be available to us in a trade, we quickly found a way to work together to produce a good outcome for both teams."
Lauded as one of the league's best tacklers, the 27-year-old Ryans was the first Houston Texan to amass 600 tackles in a career. In his six seasons with Houston, Ryans notched 636 tackles (479 solo), 8.5 sacks, two interceptions, six forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and a touchdown. Since he entered the league in 2006 as a second-round pick (33rd overall) out of Alabama, Ryans ranks sixth in the AFC with an average of 7.4 tackles per game. Ryans had a streak of four straight seasons with 100-or-more tackles that spanned from 2006 through 2009.
Nicknamed "Cap" because of how he is admired and respected in the locker room, Ryans was one of the team captains on defense for the regular season and postseason in 2011. In fact, Ryans was instrumental in helping teach new coordinator Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme as Houston transitioned from a 4-3 defense during the lockout-shortened offseason. The starting inside linebacker on the weak side in Houston's 3-4 alignment, Ryans started all 16 regular season games and was third on the team with 64 total tackles last season. Houston boasted one of the league's best defenses in 2011 as the Texans were second in total defense and fourth in points allowed helping the franchise win its first division title and playoff game.
Ryans was named the Houston Texans' recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award in 2011 as he valiantly returned from an Achilles injury that prematurely ended his 2010 campaign. He was also the winner of the Mark Bruener Award for community service as his DeMeco Ryans Foundation has raised money for a number of charitable groups in the Houston area.
For those alarmed by Ryans' Achilles injury, Texans head coach Gary Kubiak remarked that the linebacker "was back playing like DeMeco of a couple years ago the last five or six weeks of the season." The 10 games missed at the end of the 2010 season are the only games that Ryans has missed during his six-year career.
Ryans took the NFL by storm as a rookie as he led the league with 156 total tackles - including a league-best 126 solo tackles - to go along with 3.5 sacks as he earned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. For an encore in 2007, Ryans had 127 tackles, 2.0 sacks, an interception and three fumble recoveries as he earned his first Pro Bowl nomination. Ryans was also a second-team All-Pro selection in that season. Ryans was also selected to the Pro Bowl following the 2009 season when he had 123 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 16 starts.
The Bessemer, Ala. native earned his degree in Business Management from the University of Alabama where he was a first-team All-America selection as a senior. In that 2005 season, Ryans was awarded the Lott Trophy, which is given to college football's best defensive player, and was also honored as the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Ryans was the Defensive MVP of the 2006 Cotton Bowl, a 13-10 win for Alabama over Texas Tech.
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