After a season in which he led the Eagles in tackles for loss, it was no surprise that veteran defensive tackle Derek Landri wanted to see what he could get as a free agent.
Even though he said he was talking to five or six teams, they couldn't "hold a candle" to the Eagles organization from the ownership and coaching staff all the way to the fans. And that's why he decided to agree to terms on a one-year deal with the Eagles on Monday.
"It's a group unlike any other I've been around, collegiate or professionally, and it's a group you want to play for and play with," said Landri during a conference call. "That's the biggest pull. As far as the organization, it's the best organization that I've been around. After talking with other guys in the NFL and what I've heard about other organizations, they don't really hold a candle.
"Those kind of are the big factors as to why I came back to Philadelphia. From what my wife reads to me and my family sending me stuff, I guess I have a pretty big fan base out there, too, and that kind of draws you back a little bit."
The 6-2, 290-pound Landri joined the Eagles in training camp last season. He was released at the final roster cutdown, but rejoined the team after the season-ending triceps injury to Antonio Dixon. Landri had 43 tackles, a team-best eight for a loss and 2.0 sacks in just 12 games. Known for his hustle and high motor, Landri also contributed a blocked field goal. Originally a fifth-round draft pick of Jacksonville in 2007, the 28-year-old Landri also played for Carolina.
Landri joins a deep and talented defensive line group that he called "the best defensive line in the NFL last year." At defensive tackle, the Eagles have Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson as starters. Dixon is coming back from the injury. Landri returns as does second-year man Cedric Thornton.
"We have potential to be better than we were last year, and we left a few things on the table last year," Landri said. "I'm not satisfied at all with the outcome, and I decided to come back and be a part of it."
Landri hoped for more than a one-year deal. In fact, Landri explained that he thought he and the Eagles were close to an agreement about two weeks ago before Jason Peters ruptured his Achilles.
"I actually thought I wasn't going to be back there, but both sides had cool heads and we wound up getting something done," Landri said.
Even though he put up his best career numbers (63 tackles, 3.0 sacks) as a 16-game starter in Carolina in 2010, Landri relished at the chance to play once again for defensive line coach Jim Washburn.
"I think Coach Wash, first of all, wants what is best for his players. He wants his players to be ballplayers and doesn't want them to be machines. His system allows you to be ballplayers," Landri said. "He coaches harder than any coach I've ever been around and expects more out of us than any coach I've been around. At the same time, he respects us and cares for us as ballplayers and people. It makes a big difference."
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