BETHLEHEM, Pa. It had been a few hours since the Eagles made a major move, so they were due.
Late Saturday afternoon, the Eagles agreed to contract terms with 290-pound defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins, an inside pass-rush specialist who the Eagles hope is another piece in their ongoing reconstruction of one of the worst pass defenses in franchise history.
Jenkins' deal is good for 25 million over five years.
Minutes after signing Jenkins, the Eagles traded defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley, their first-round pick in 2006, to the Browns for a fifth-round pick in 2012.
A year ago, the Eagles allowed a franchise-record 31 touchdown passes in the regular season, then three more in their playoff loss to the Packers. Since Thursday, theyve added Pro Bowl cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin and now a defensive tackle who had seven sacks in just 11 games last year.
We believe in defending the pass, and defending the passing game is key to winning a world championship, general manager Howie Roseman said late Saturday afternoon on the Lehigh practice fields.
When you see the teams that won the Super Bowl the last two years the Saints and the Packers those are prolific passing attacks, plus all the teams in our division, and we know weve got to get through those teams to get where we want to go.
Roseman said Jenkins can play either tackle or end, but the Eagles like him most as a third-down pass rusher.
Jenkins has 29 career sacks, including a career-high seven last year in just 11 games. Jenkins has more career sacks than Mike Patterson, Bunkley, Antonio Dixon and Trevor Laws combined.
The Eagles have not had a big-time pass-rushing defensive tackle since Andy Harmon, who recorded 38 12 sacks from 1992 through 1995.
Even though Jenkins is mainly an inside pass rusher, Roseman said hes versatile to hold up well against the run at 290 pounds and fast enough to rush the passer from outside as well.
He can really play both (end and tackle), Roseman said. On third down, he rushes from inside, and we think he makes a difference in that role. In this defense, in this scheme, it really utilizes all his talents.
This is a guy that we didnt think wed have the opportunity to acquire, and the way things have worked out the last few days, when the opportunity came to us, we jumped at it. He had opportunities to go elsewhere, and he was a highly coveted player and he decided to come to Philadelphia, and we had to make that happen.
The Eagles registered 12 sacks in their first three games last year but just 29 in their last 14, including the playoff loss to the Packers.
Since then, theyve added Babin, who was sixth in the NFL with 12 12 sacks, and Jenkins, whose seven sacks were third-most among defensive tackles in 2010.
Theyve also added a highly regarded new defensive line coach in Jim Washburn.
Washburn looks for a lot of rushers, waves of guys who are fresh and firing off the ball, Roseman said. Our pass rush is greatly improved and our cover people are really good players. When you put it all together, thats exciting stuff.
Jenkins, Babin and Asomugha are all over 30 years old, which is a departure for the Eagles, who usually get rid of players once they hit 30.
But Roseman said this is still a very young team.
I think if you took the average age of our roster, well still be one of the top-five youngest rosters in the NFL, he said. Weve got a great combination of youth and some veteran leadership, some guys who came from winning programs and will fit right in. Were excited about it.
Its pretty clear that Philadelphia has become a preferred destination for NFL free agents. Babin and Asomugha both turned down more money to sign with the Eagles, and it sounds like Jenkins did as well.
This organization as a whole is a selling point, Roseman said. People want to come to Philadelphia because of the organization and having coach Andy Reid and having a quarterback like Michael Vick and the players we have, I think theyre all great selling points. When you talk to agents, people want to come to Philly.
Asked whether the Eagles have some flexibility to make additional moves, team president Joe Banner sitting in the back of Rosemans media briefing laughed and yelled out, Hell yeah! Whatever Howie wants.
Bunkley, 27, never panned out as the 14th pick in the 2006 draft. He was OK against the run but had just six sacks in four years, just one the last two years.
Unloading Bunkley will clear 1.92 million from the Eagles 2011 salary cap.
Browns General Manager Tom Heckert drafted Bunkley when he was the Eagles GM in 2006.
The minute Tom found out that we had made this move, he immediately called me, Roseman said. He knows what kind of player and person Brodrick is, and its a great opportunity for him in Cleveland. We appreciate everything we did here. Hes got a great opportunity with the Browns to go on and play a lot. Weve got some defensive tackles and defensive linemen here now, and its a good opportunity for him.
The Eagles on Saturday also re-signed linebacker Akeem Jordan, who has played in 53 games and started 20 for the Eagles since they signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2007.
Jordan is the first of their own unrestricted free agents the Eagles have re-signed.
The Eagles also released running back Noel Devine, an unrestricted rookie free agent from West Virginia.
E-mail Reuben Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @RoobCSN.