With the start of free agency just hours away, here is a position-by-position preview of who is scheduled to hit the market and how it could impact the Eagles. Let's take a look at the defensive linemen ...
These two harassed the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game and now they're up for grabs. Antonio Smith and Bertrand Berry are set to hit the market, but under different conditions. Smith had 3.5 sacks in 2008 and forced a pair of fumbles, but at 27 years old, a team in need of a 4-3 pass rush specialist could look in his direction. He will be one of the biggest commodities on the free agent market. Berry on the other hand could be a good find for a team looking for just a situational player. Last year, Berry had five sacks and forced a pair of fumbles. However, the 260-pound Berry is 33 years old.
Another long-tenured veteran who could be good in spot duty is Kevin Carter from the Bucs. In his 14th NFL season, Carter posted four sacks and has 104.5 for his career. Far removed from his double-digit sack days with the Titans and Rams, Carter is still a recognizable force at 6-6, 305 pounds. If a team is looking for a versatile inside/outside lineman - sort of like Darren Howard - the Redskins' Demetric Evans would be ideal. The 29-year-old just wrapped up his seventh NFL season and tallied a career-high 3.5 sacks.
One of the Eagles' biggest signings a year ago was that of Chris Clemons. No one really heard of him, but he was coming off of his best season and was still young. A potential under-the-radar player is the Falcons' Chauncey Davis. The 26-year-old had a career-best 4.0 sacks last year and has played in all 64 regular season games since he was a fourth-round pick in 2005 out of Florida State.
Known as the Mad Russian, San Diego's Igor Olshansky is a bullrush end who is suited for a 3-4 scheme.
Will the Eagles be shopping? Highly unlikely. What's on the market that the Eagles don't already have? The Eagles have an outstanding right end in Trent Cole, a big two-down left end in Victor Abiamiri, an inside/outside presence in Darren Howard and a bevy of rush specialists like Chris Clemons, Juqua Parker and Bryan Smith.
Yes, Chris Canty was a 3-4 end in Dallas and he'll likely sign with a team that employs a similar scheme but from a 4-3 perspective he would slide inside. Canty's only 26 years old, has great size (6-7, 304 pounds) and is strong against the run but at the same time still developing his pass rush.
Of course, Canty isn't the best defensive tackle prospect available. Arguably the best free agent overall to hit the market will be Tennessee's Albert Haynesworth. In a contract year, Haynesworth was the focal point of the Titans' outstanding run defense while still providing an impact in the pass game with 8.5 sacks. The fact that he played his best during a contract year will scare some teams off. However, there is no question that at his best he is the most dominating defensive tackle in the game.
A few years ago, Rocky Bernard was a player on the wish list of many Eagles fans. Now, Bernard would be a good fit for a team in need of a rotational tackle. However, the Eagles need more of a pass rush from the tackle position and this is a spot where he is not a good fit.
Kedric Golston of the Redskins is a restricted free agent, so despite his youth and experience it is unlikely a team will offer a draft pick as compensation plus a new contract. Tank Johnson didn't fit in Dallas' 3-4 scheme, so look for him to find a spot in a 4-3 base that better utilizes his quickness. Despite everything Johnson went through with his off-the-field problems, he's only been in the league since 2004.
Recently released was Dewayne Robertson, who was once the No. 4 overall pick in the 2003 draft. However, he was too undersized for the Jets' 3-4 scheme when Eric Mangini was hired. So, he was dealt to Denver where he had 1.5 sacks this past season. Still playing under his lucrative rookie deal, Robertson was going to be a significant cap hit for the Broncos in 2009 so he was released.
Will the Eagles be shopping? Again, highly unlikely. The Eagles have a nice 1-2 punch at defensive tackle with a pair of former first-round picks, Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson. Last year, the Eagles invested a second-round pick on Trevor Laws. Could the Eagles use a fourth tackle? Depends on whether the Eagles count the ends who can move inside on passing downs. If the Eagles look for a rotational tackle, it will probably be in the draft.