Amid a flurry of first day NFL Free Agency signings by the Philadelphia Eagles, NT Isaac Sopoaga, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers, was signed to a three-year contract. Later that night, his former teammate with the 49ers, DT Ricky Jean Francois, arrived in Philadelphia for his official visit with the Eagles.
Greeted by Eagles Vice President of Player Personnel Tom Gamble, the 6’3″ DT reportedly spent the next day meeting with Eagles officials and touring the facilities. According to earlier reports it appeared that the Eagles and Francois were having a very productive meeting. It stretched well into the afternoon and gave the impression that a deal could get done at any time. However, there were never any, almost customary, reports of a pending deal between the two sides. Francois is reportedly now on his way to visit the Indianapolis Colts.
The Eagles had been in “quick strike” mode for much of the first day of FA, signing five players within only a few hours. Many thought the same would be true for the former 49ers backup DT. Unfortunately, it did not work out that way. However, every year many FAs decide to weigh their options and visit or contact many teams before deciding on a new home or an old one. This may be such a case.
The read on Francois is that his versatility is his most coveted asset. While strong in run defense, play recognition and durability, he has been scouted as being a first step, high motor gap shooter who is weaker than average at the point of attack. In 2012, he was credited for 22 tackles (10 solo, two TFL) and two sacks in 16 games. He did manage to play in all 16 games with the 49ers for the past three seasons.
It appears that Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is looking to bring in a slew of versatile, high motor, blue collar players that come to work with hard hats and lunch pails. Why not? Philadelphia is a blue-collar town and has always welcomed players of this caliber. Francois fits this description and reports suggest that he had already planned on making a few visits before he decides on a team.
With Francois being unsigned at the moment, the Eagles still remain a viable landing spot for Francois. The Colts, though, could close a deal with him, which is something the Eagles could not or would not do.