Derek Landri is what they call a "hustle guy" in the business. He isn't pretty. He doesn't jump out at you with his physical dimensions. He doesn't necessary strike an impressive pose in his uniform.
But Landri gets it done. And last year he got it done so well -- a team-best 8 tackles for a loss as a reserve -- that he felt his play deserved some love in free agency.
So Landri entered free agency after spurning an initial Eagles offer waiting to see what kind of action he would generate on the open market. After a few weeks of feelers and thoughts and considerations, Landri returned to Philadelphia, agreeing on Monday to a one-year contract.
It's a great fit for both sides. Landri played his best football in 2011 under line coach Jim Washburn, and it wasn't supposed to happen. A strong preseason ended with a disappointing release as the Eagles reached their initial 53-man roster limit.
But when Antonio Dixon suffered a triceps injury that landed him on Injured Reserve, Landri re-joined the Eagles and played very well in Washburn's rotation.
Now he's back along with Cullen Jenkins, Mike Patterson, Dixon and Cedric Thornton. The Eagles have a pretty good thing going at the position, and the possibility is that the team could add to defensive tackle in the draft.
Re-signing Landri is a terrific move. He isn't guaranteed to make the team, that much we know. Landri, despite his production, isn't one of those players guaranteed for anything in this league.
He makes it with great hustle and desire and quickness and technique. The Eagles were a better defense with Landri last year because his hard play rubbed off on everybody else. Dixon didn't play his best football early in the season and Landri was, truth be told, an upgrade.
Now there is some great competition at tackle. The plan, from this perspective, seems very much like Washburn ran last year. He wants to use his defensive linemen in a rotation, and he maybe wants to scale back Jenkins just a touch to keep him fresh. Jenkins can play both end and tackle and I can see Washburn using him both ways -- at end in short-yardage situations.
Landri is going to compete with Dixon and Patterson and the youngster, Thornton. Does signing Landri mean the Eagles won't sign a defensive tackle in the first round on April 26, as many mock drafts now suggest? No, it doesn't.
But having Landri back certainly gives the Eagles some depth at tackle heading into the draft.
The other Eagle on the free-agent market is Trevor Laws, who reportedly is gaining some interest from the Rams. It would be shocking to see Laws return as well, now that Landri is here.
The move to bring Landri is another of the former-Eagles-return-to-the-team move. Both Evan Mathis and King Dunlap tested the waters of free agency, along with Landri. DeSean Jackson was given the franchise tag and then signed to a long-term deal. Todd Herremans and Trent Cole were locked into long-term deals.
Continuity has a been a loud, resounding intention of the offseason, and the mission was certainly accomplished.
Is there more on the way? Maybe. Reports suggest the Eagles are interested in veteran safety Yeremiah Bell, who played with defensive backs coach Todd Bowles in Miami. We'll see if there is fire around that smoke. The prices are buyer-friendly on the free-agent market and the Eagles have some room to make some moves, if they desire.
Bringing back Landri is one of those moves that just feels right. It makes so much sense. The guy made all of these plays last season and we watched and said, "How can you not retain a player like that? The Eagles kept him, after allowing Landri to go out and see what the league had to offer.
In the end, he liked the fit here. It works for everybody. Having Landri in, part of the defensive tackle rotation, adds another nice piece to the offseason puzzle for the Eagles.