Philadelphia Eagles News

Eagles Off-Season Takes A Huge Turn

This is how it works in the NFL: The picture changes in a snap, or in the case of the Eagles trading for defensive end Darryl Tapp, the simple act of signing his contract tender in Seattle. In a span of a day, the Eagles' off-season ramped up with a couple of intriguing moves -- trading for Tapp and signing restricted free agent running back Mike Bell to an offer sheet.

Let's first talk about Bell, who is not yet an Eagle. The Eagles brought him in to the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday and he signed his offer sheet at night. He has good size at 220 pounds. He's a young guy -- Bell turns 27 on April 27 -- with relatively little wear and tear on his body and the Eagles like him for the way he runs between the tackles, attacks the line of scrimmage and has some quickness and the ability to make defenders miss.

This team needs another running back, at least. LeSean McCoy is a highly-touted second-year man. He had a fine rookie season. Big things are expected of McCoy this year, and for many years to come. But the Eagles needed some depth, and by signing Bell they think they will add -- figuring that New Orleans won't match the offer sheet -- a big body, a good young player, and some quality depth.

Bell became a restricted free agent after rushing for 654 yards (3.8 yards per carry) and 5 touchdowns in 2009. He had a tremendous start to the '09 season, busting loose against Detroit and the Eagles, and then he suffered a sprained knee and was never the same. New Orleans has great depth at running back, and the thinking is that the Saints won't match a sweet deal that reportedly could pay Bell more than $2 million in 2010. We'll know in seven days. Should the Saints match, Bell remains in New Orleans and the Eagles continue their search for a running back. Should the Saints not match, the Eagles get Bell and do not need to give the Saints any compensation.

Simple as that.

Now, on to Tapp. Here is a young defensive end who fell out of favor in Seattle after a productive start to his career with the Seahawks. A second-round draft pick in 2006, Tapp became a starter in 2007 and registered 7 sacks and then followed up with 5 1/2 the next year. But things changed in Seattle. New coaches and a new system perhaps contributed to Tapp's decline in sack totals and numbers and, for sure, playing time, and his future probably would have included a pretty interesting sweepstakes had the collective bargaining agreement not changed.

But instead of becoming an unrestricted free agent and shopping his talents, Tapp became a restricted free agent and signed his tender offer on Monday. One day later, he became an Eagle.

"It hasn't really gotten to the point where I can collect my emotions and tell you how I feel, other than to say I'm glad to be a Philadelphia Eagle. It's a great feeling to be wanted," said Tapp. "I know the way they play defense. It's going to fit my style perfectly. I like to get up the field, get to the quarterback."

The Eagles clearly wanted Tapp, because they gave up Chris Clemons, whom the team signed as an unrestricted free agent two off-seasons ago. He was a disappointing player in his time here, not consistent and productive enough to gain a lot of playing time. Also, the Eagles gave up a fourth-round draft pick -- the one acquired in the Lito Sheppard trade to New York last year -- and with teams hoarding picks in a talent-heavy draft, that says something about how much the Eagles wanted Tapp.

Who knows how it will work out. The Eagles like Tapp's high energy, his tremendous athletic ability and the way he gets up the field in the pass-rush game. Tapp plays big at 265 pounds, so if you want to make a physical comparison, think Hugh Douglas. In fact, Douglas is probably a great model for this trade: He was languishing as a New York Jet after three seasons of declining production. The system in New York didn't fit him.

The Eagles made a great move, sending a pair of draft picks to the Jets to acquire Douglas and Douglas rewarded the Eagles with five seasons (one ruined by injury) of excellent football.

Could this move be a similar situation? It's too early to tell, but the Eagles really, really think Tapp fits this system well. He is big enough, at "265-270 pounds," said Tapp, to play every down. He is likely to compete for the starting left defensive end position. There are reports, not confirmed by the Eagles, that Tapp has agreed to terms on a three-year contract pending a physical on Thursday, but the details there will work out in time.

Acquiring Tapp was not a throwaway move by any means. He's here to be a big-time contributor. Tapp feels wanted, feels loved and when a player is in that environment, good things usually happen.

Still, the Eagles have Juqua Parker and Victor Abiamiri and Darren Howard on the defensive line to team with Pro Bowl right end Trent Cole. It is a group that could really use one player to step up and complement Cole, take some of the double- and triple-team pressure away from him.

Maybe Tapp is that guy. Maybe the new environment will get him back on track. He plays hard, he loves the game and he has the quickness and the motor the Eagles covet.

An off-season that was slow to really get going received a jolt on Tuesday with the acquisition of Tapp and the signing of Bell to an offer sheet. Both players fit what the Eagles hoped to find in this free-agency period -- young players with a lot of game in front of them.

Are the Eagles done? No, sir. Are Tapp and Bell potentially the answers to fill need spots on this team? Maybe. Time will tell. The Eagles think so, of course. They really like Tapp, enough to give up Clemons and the fourth-round draft pick. They really like Bell, enough to give a one-year contract that is strong.

Every day, you wake up and you wonder what will happen and things change in the blink of an eye. On this day, the Eagles added a defensive end and signed a running back to an offer sheet and, well, maybe this will be a day to look back on and remember as 2010 takes shape.

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