The Philadelphia Eagles have completed a trade with the Houston Texans in which the Eagles receive 2 time Pro-Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans in exchange for the Eagles 2012 4th round pick (which they received from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers). The clubs will also swap third round picks with the Eagles moving back from 77th to 89th this year. Ryans, 27, had a quality year in 2011 in his return from an Achilles injury in 2010. He played all 16 regular season games and racked up 64 total tackles while playing over 50% of the Texans’ defensive snaps. The trade is contingent upon the fact that Ryans pass a physical that will be administered by the Eagles on Wednesday.
This trade fills a huge void for an Eagles team that was desperate for help at middle linebacker. In 2011, the team constantly shuffled linebackers around hoping to find a combination that would work. The acquisition of Ryans gives them a viable option at middle linebacker for the first time since Jeremiah Trotter. The reason the Eagles were probably able to grab such a quality linebacker for a mere 4th round pick and a swap of thirds is the fact that Ryans will likely fit better in the Eagles 4-3 scheme than he did in the Texans’ 3-4. On the plus side for Philadelphia, players are generally much more productive in their 2nd season after returning from an injury like an Achilles.
The Eagles salary cap will take around a $6 million hit with the addition of Ryans’ contract, leaving the team with just over $14 million left to play with. That should give them plenty of space to re-sign any of the young players already on the roster that they are looking to lock up long term as well as make some other moves this offseason. This move goes a long way to bolster and Eagles defense that has been in desperate need of a young, quality player at the middle linebacker spot. It also explains why they were never really big players for some of the free agents at the position, notably Stephen Tulloch of the Detroit Lions (who recently re-signed with the club). Ryans should be able to come in not only contribute immediately, but also provide a huge upgrade at the position. I still don’t think this puts the Eagles out of the running for Luke Kuechly in the draft, as it would provide them a great deal of flexibility and would allow Kuechly to progress naturally as opposed to being thrown right into the fire.