The Philadelphia Eagles decided to take long-snapper Jon Dorenbos and backup safety Colt Anderson off the free-agent market Monday.
Dorenbos, who is considered one of the best in the league at his position, signed a four-year contract to stay with the team, while Anderson got a one-year deal.
Dorenbos, who has been with the Eagles since 2006, was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent today. Anderson would have been a restricted free agent, meaning the Eagles would have had the right to match any offer made by another team.
"I'm super excited to be staying here," Dorenbos said Monday on a conference call. "My wife (Julie) and I have a long history here, and we have a strong relationship with community and the team."
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said in a statement, "Coach (Chip) Kelly and I spoke about both players throughout the past several weeks, and we both thought it was important for our club moving forward that we get a deal done with Jon and Colt before they hit the free agent market."
Anderson, who was signed off Minnesota's practice squad in 2010, is regarded as the Eagles' best special-teams player and got some playing time at safety in 2012.
Depending on how the Eagles proceed in free agency - safety is one of the positions they need to upgrade - Anderson could get another shot in the secondary under new defensive coordinator Billy Davis.
"We haven't talked about it, yet," Anderson said on a conference call. "I'm just glad the Eagles gave me one more year to prove myself. I wanted to be here. I consider myself a blue-collar guy, just like the city of Philadelphia. I think I fit in well."
The Eagles head into the NFL's free agency signing period today with several holes to fill and plenty of money to make a big splash if they so desire.
The team is believed to be approximately $35 million under the league's salary cap of $123 million, which means Roseman and Kelly are in position to be very aggressive if there is a player or players they think are worth targeting when the signing period starts at 4 p.m.
Don't expect a major influx of free agents this year. Based on the way their last two free-agent classes performed, the Eagles are more convinced than ever that the best way to build a contender is through the draft while adding a veteran player or two.
In 2011, the Eagles had a different approach. Once the NFL lockout ended, they signed big-name free agents such as cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, defensive end Jason Babin, running back Ronnie Brown, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, guard Evan Mathis and quarterback Vince Young, among others.
As of Monday evening, only Asomugha and Mathis were still with the Eagles, and there is a strong possibility Asomugha will be released unless he agrees to a paycut after two subpar seasons.
Before the 2012 season, the Eagles signed tackle Demetress Bell after Pro Bowler Jason Peters suffered a ruptured Achilles' tendon. Bell lost his starting job in the preseason and continued to struggle. The Eagles couldn't release him fast enough once the season ended.
Their best move was acquiring middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans in a trade with Houston. Ryans led the Eagles with 148 tackles last season and was the defense's leader.
Some of their upcoming decisions will involve their own players. Dorenbos and Anderson were among eight players scheduled to become free agents today. The group includes starting cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, tackle King Dunlap, linebacker Akeem Jordan, defensive tackle Derek Landri, guard Jake Scott and defensive end Darryl Tapp.
Of those players, Rodgers-Cromartie is the only candidate likely to be re-signed. That would appear to make sense, considering he made the Pro Bowl in 2009 with Arizona under Davis.
Most of their decisions will likely affect the defense. The unit's terrible play last season was the biggest reason behind the Eagles' 4-12 record that ultimately cost coach Andy Reid his job.
They could use some help at cornerback, especially if Asomugha and/or Rogers-Cromartie are sent packing. Miami's Sean Smith and Arizona's Greg Toler are among the top candidates to land in Philadelphia. Toler played for Davis in Arizona in 2010.
Safety may be their biggest weakness. Nate Allen has been hampered with injuries and has been inconsistent the last two seasons. Kurt Coleman is a vicious hitter but lacks coverage skills. Anderson was unable to establish himself in the secondary and David Sims was a non-factor. San Francisco's Dashon Goldson reportedly tops the Eagles' wish list at this spot. New York Jet LaRon Landry is also a possibility.
If the Eagles switch to a 3-4 defense as expected, they are going to need more linemen after releasing Jenkins - he agreed to terms Sunday with the New York Giants - and Mike Patterson. The 49ers' Ricky Jean-Francois would be a good fit as a defensive end. The Eagles also need a hefty nose tackle to plug into the middle with Antonio Dixon. Jacksonville's Terrance Knighton is considered the top prospect.
Offensively, the Eagles could go after a lineman, tight end and/or wide receiver.
Kansas City tackle Eric Winston has been linked to the Eagles. That would allow right tackle Todd Herremans to move back inside to guard since 2011 first-round pick Danny Watkins has yet to prove he can play in the NFL.
Kelly's wide-open offense would require a tight end who can get downfield or even play in the slot. Brent Celek is more of a possession-type receiver and Clay Harbor has been hampered by injuries. Tennessee's Jared Cook is the top tight end on the market and will have a lot of suitors.
At wide receiver, there has been talk that St. Louis' Danny Amendola could be coming back to the Eagles. The Eagles signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2009 and placed him on their practice squad, but St. Louis grabbed him. New Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur had the same job with the Rams in 2009-10.
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