The Eagles’ biggest move during Wednesday’s opening of NFL free agency involved keeping one of their own players.
Linebacker Nigel Bradham, one of the key defensive players during the team’s Super Bowl championship run, is staying put.
Bradham, who was due to become an unrestricted free agent, agreed to terms on a five-year contract. Although official terms of the deal were not released, it is believed to be worth $40 million, according to ESPN.com.
“Nigel plays with tremendous energy and fire and has made a number of impact plays for us at the linebacker position,” the Eagles said in a statement. “Keeping him here was a priority of ours and we are looking forward to his future here in Philadelphia.”
Bradham, 28, registered 85 tackles with five tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery returned for a touchdown during the regular season. In the playoffs, the 6-foot-2, 240-pounder had 12 tackles and a sack in three games. His biggest postseason play was a third-down sack of Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan in the third quarter that helped lead to a field goal by Jake Elliott in a 15-10 victory in the divisional round.
More importantly, Bradham took over as the play-caller for the front seven during the second half of the season after middle linebacker Jordan Hicks suffered a ruptured Achilles’ tendon on Oct. 24.
Signing Bradham was the latest in a flurry of moves executed by Eagles Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman this week to bolster the defense. The Eagles also officially announced Wednesday they acquired defensive end Michael Bennett and cornerback Daryl Worley via trades with Seattle and Carolina, respectively, and also signed Denver free agent linebacker/special teamer Corey Nelson to a one-year contract.
The Eagles failed to retain another key player, however. Slot cornerback Patrick Robinson, who led the team with five interceptions, opted to rejoin the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday with a four-year, $20 million contract, per ESPN.com and NFL.com. Robinson, 30, was the Saints’ first-round draft pick in 2010 and played five seasons there.
Robinson led the team with four interceptions during the regular season and scored on a 50-yard interception return in the Eagles’ 38-7 victory over Minnesota in the NFC championship game.
As a result, Jalen Mills is expected to move inside to the slot for the Eagles. Ronald Darby and Sidney Jones will likely be the outside corners. Rasul Douglas and Worley will also compete for playing time.
The Eagles obtained Worley in exchange for wide receiver Torrey Smith in a move designed to help the Eagles’ salary cap. They also cleared some space by releasing veteran tight end Brent Celek on Tuesday and restructuring tackle Lane Johnson’s contract.
Celek appeared at the 76ers’ game against Indiana at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday night and received a standing ovation from the fans. The 11-year veteran, the Eagles’ fifth-round draft pick in 2007, was the Eagles’ longest-tenured player.
“When I first came to Philly, I didn’t know what to think,” Celek told NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com Tuesday night. “Over the 11 years I’ve told the city I’ve made this my home. I’m living in Philly forever now. I love this place.”
In other news, former Eagles tight end Trey Burton agreed to terms with Chicago on a five-year, $32 million contract. Defensive tackle Beau Allen is said to be close to signing with Tampa Bay.
Other Eagles who became free agents Wednesday at 4 p.m. include running backs LeGarrette Blount and Darren Sproles.
Punter Donnie Jones decided to retire last week after a 14-year NFL career that included five seasons with the Eagles.