Eagles' best and worst free-agent signings

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Eagles' best and worst free-agent signings

March 8, 2013, 9:00 am
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Troy Vincent went to five straight Pro Bowls as an Eagle. Jevon Kearse averaged 5½ sacks per season with the franchise, while Stacy Andrews started just two games in midnight green. (AP)

There’ve been disasters. There’ve been travesties. There’ve been complete and total wastes. And worse! There’s even been Demetress Bell.
 
Since the NFL was forced to offer its veteran players free agency starting in 1993, some of the best players and some of the worst in franchise history have come to Philly as unrestricted free agents.
 
The best? The worst? With 2013 free agency set to begin, we took a look at the Eagles’ biggest hits and misses in the first 20 years of unrestricted free agency.
 
The lists are based on a combination of expectations, salary and performance.
 
The top five
 
5. Ricky Watters
He didn’t get off to a great start, but if you forgive his first game in an Eagles uniform, Watters was an absolute beast. He was the workhorse of an offense that never had an elite quarterback, and he carried those 1995 and 1996 playoff teams with brilliant Pro Bowl seasons.
 
Watters netted 1,707, 1,855 and 1,550 net yards in three years in Philly, averaging nearly 1,300 rushing yards, 54 receptions and 11 touchdowns per season.
 
Key stat: From 1995 through 1997, only Barry Sanders (5,956) and Terrell Davis (5,369) had more yards than Watters (5,112).
 
Price tag: Three years, $6.930839 million, signed March 25, 1995.
 
4. Irving Fryar
The Mount Holly, N.J. native was 34 and entering his 13th NFL season when the Eagles signed him in 1996, but Fryar was hardly done. He caught 88 and 86 passes his first two years in Philly, with 1,195 and 1,316 receiving yards, respectively.
 
Only Fryar, Jerry Rice and Cris Carter have had two 85-catch seasons after their 34th birthdays.
 
Key stat: Fryar is the only Eagles receiver with consecutive seasons of 1,100 yards in the last 50 years.
 
Price tag: Three years, $6.948192 million, signed March 26, 1996.
 
3. Asante Samuel
In four years with the Eagles, Samuel established himself as one of the best corners in franchise history, with 25 interceptions from 2008 through 2011 -- second-most in the NFL during that span to Ed Reed.
 
Samuel was one of the keys to the Eagles’ run to the 2008 NFC Championship Game, with an INT for a touchdown in the win over the Vikings and an INT and return down to the 1-yard line a week later in a win over the top-seeded Giants.
 
Key stat: Despite playing just four years with the Eagles, Samuel ranks ninth in franchise history with 25 interceptions and second in INT returns for TDs (to Eric Allen’s six).
 
Price tag: Six years, $59,540,520, signed March 1, 2008.
 
2. Jon Runyan
The Eagles signed Runyan before the 2000 season and proceeded to go 92-51-1 with five conference title game appearances over the next nine years, with Runyan playing every snap and obliterating people at right tackle.
 
Is it a coincidence that the Eagles won just two playoff games in the 20 years before Runyan signed, won 10 playoff games with Runyan and haven’t won a playoff game since he left?
 
Key stat: From 2000 through 2008, Runyan was the only NFL offensive lineman to start all 144 regular-season games. Only Ronde Barber, Brett Favre, Derrick Brooks and Peyton Manning started as many as 144 games.
 
Price tag: Six years, $30.51036, signed Feb. 15, 2000.
 
1. Troy Vincent
One of the greatest players in Eagles history, Vincent came to Philly in 1996 and spent eight years here, providing not just smart, tough, heady, physical playmaking at cornerback but big-time leadership under two head coaches.
 
Vincent, a Trenton native, picked off 29 passes, went to five straight Pro Bowls as an Eagle and was part of five playoff teams.
 
Key stat: In franchise history, only Reggie White (seven) and Pete Pihos (six) were picked to more consecutive Pro Bowls than Vincent.
 
Price tag: Five years, $20.753061 million, signed March 4, 1996.
 
The bottom five
 
5. Vince Young
Young was a catastrophe even not considering his ill-fated “Dream Team” statement in the early days at Lehigh during the summer of 2011.
 
Two years earlier, he had gone to the Pro Bowl after winning eight of 10 starts with the Titans. One year earlier, he had a terrific 10-to-3 TD-to-INT ratio.
 
But with the Eagles? Brutal.
 
When Michael Vick got hurt, Young threw four touchdowns to nine interceptions in three starts, and although he did win one of them, his 60.8 passer rating was 43rd-best in the NFL, ahead of only Tyler Palko and Caleb Hanie.
 
Key stat: Young was the first Eagle quarterback to throw fewer than 150 passes and nine or more interceptions since King Hill in 1965.
 
Price tag: One year, $4 million, signed July 30, 2011.
 
4. Jevon Kearse
It made sense at the time. Bring in one of the league’s top pass rushers to impact the defense the same way the addition -- that same day -- of Terrell Owens would impact the offense.
 
Didn’t quite go that way. Kearse, who averaged 11½ sacks in his four full seasons with the Titans, averaged 5½ in four years with the Eagles and was essentially a non-factor.
 
During his years in Nashville (1999-2003) Kearse ranked fifth in the NFL in sacks despite missing nearly all of the 2002 season. During his stay in Philly -- from 2004 through 2007 -- Kearse ranked 43rd among all NFL players in sacks.
 
As an Eagle, Kearse earned $1.56 million per sack.
 
Key stat: In his first seven games as an Eagle, Kearse had six sacks. In his final 39 games, he had 15 sacks.
 
Price tag: Eight years, $57.608168 million, signed March 5, 2004. (Kearse earned $32.825 for four years).
 
3. Tim Harris
Reggie White left the Eagles for Green Bay after the 1992 season, and the Eagles, under fire by fans for allowing the beloved future Hall of Famer to leave, figured they had found his replacement in Harris, who had recorded 17 sacks the previous year with the 49ers and had 19½ sacks in a season a few years earlier with the Packers.
 
But Harris contracted some sort of weird infection in his arm during the preseason and only got into three games in 1993, netting no sacks and six tackles. The Eagles quickly released him after the season. He returned to San Francisco, was ineffective and retired after 1995.
 
Key stat: White had 74 sacks after leaving the Eagles. Harris had six.
 
Price tag: Three years, $2.55 million, signed April 21, 1993. (Harris earned $2.05 million for one year.)
 
2. Nnamdi Asomugha
When Nnamdi Asomugha’s Eagles tenure began, Andy Reid said this: “He's one of the best -- if not the best -- cornerbacks in the National Football League.”
 
Just 16 months later, as he coached his final game on the Eagles’ sideline, Reid watched while defensive coordinator Todd Bowles benched Asomugha for none other than Curtis Marsh.
 
Asomugha’s decline from a Pro Bowl pick in 2008, 2009 and 2010 to a mediocre corner in 2011 and a disaster in 2012 was astonishing. Not since Roynell Young in the mid-1980s had we seen a Pro Bowl-caliber corner lose it as fast as Asomugha.
 
But when you’re a corner and you can’t run, you can’t cover. And early into this season, it was clear Asomugha just couldn’t cover.
 
Key stat: Asomugha has never been on a winning team. Eight of his 10 seasons, his teams have been 5-11 or worse. In all, his teams are 49-111.
 
Price tag: Five years, $60.00186 million, signed July 30, 2011. (Earned $21.00186 million in 2011 and 2012, guaranteed $4 million in 2013.)
 
1. Stacy Andrews
The Eagles brought him in to baby-sit his brother, Shawn, and to play some guard. He couldn’t do either.
 
Andrews was awful, and it turned out he and Shawn weren’t even that close. Disaster on two counts.
 
He lasted one year, started two games, got benched, and was gone. All for the bargain-basement price of $9.5 million.
 
Key stat: Shawn and Stacy Andrews averaged a combined 6.6 starts per season in their NFL careers.
 
Price tag: Six years, $38.3125 million, signed Feb. 28, 2009. (earned $9.5325 million)

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