Eagles' best and worst free-agent signings

slideshow-030713-eagles-trio-ap.jpg

Eagles' best and worst free-agent signings

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)

Phillies-Diamondbacks 5 things: Vince Velasquez returns in a hitter's park

Phillies-Diamondbacks 5 things: Vince Velasquez returns in a hitter's park

Phillies (32-45) at Diamondbacks (36-42)
9:40 p.m. on CSN

The Phillies move on to the third and final series of their nine-game road trip Monday night when they begin a three-game series at Chase Field with the Diamondbacks.

It was just over a week ago that the D-backs came into Citizens Bank Park and swept the Phillies in a four-game series. The three pitchers the Phils face in Phoenix are the first three they faced in Philly.

Let's take a look at the opener:

1. Velasquez returns
Vince Velasquez (5-2, 3.65) was activated off the 15-day DL Monday and will make his return to the Phillies' rotation. Velasquez ended up missing 17 games and three starts, but it could have turned out much worse after he was diagnosed with a right biceps strain. A biceps injury can sometimes be a precursor to more serious elbow issues, but Velasquez appears to have avoided long-term damage.

Velasquez was sharp last Wednesday in his one and only rehab start at Reading, sitting in the mid-90s with his fastball and touching 97. There was little left to prove, health-wise, following that start, and the Phillies elected to bring him back to the majors and send struggling Adam Morgan to the bullpen.

Velasquez had been scuffling in his own right before going on the DL. He had a 2.42 ERA and .197 opponents' batting average through his first eight starts, but in his last four he allowed 12 runs in 13⅓ innings and his opponents hit .379 with five home runs.

The time off was good for Velasquez, he said. He used it to clear his head and chose not to go back and watch the film of his three poor starts against the Tigers, Cubs and Brewers.

If Velasquez, who threw 76 pitches in last week's rehab start, can get through six innings tonight, it will be his first time doing so since May 12 in Atlanta. His last quality start came on May 1 at home against the Indians.

2. Playing the dimensions
Chase Field in Phoenix is not the ideal location for Velasquez's first start back. With the dark green batter's eye in center field and the way the ball carries, it's one of the game's most hitter-friendly ballparks.

There have been 103 home runs hit in 38 games this season at Chase Field, third-most among NL stadiums behind — surprise, surprise — Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati and Coors Field in Colorado. It's about as far from AT&T Park as it gets — the stadium in San Francisco the Phillies are coming from has seen just 50 home runs all year.

The Diamondbacks have felt the brunt of that damage. They're 13-25 at home and have allowed nine more home runs than their opponents, who have an .817 OPS at Chase Field.

The D-backs have a 5.28 ERA and 1.46 WHIP at home. The three starting pitchers they'll face this week — Robbie Ray, Zack Greinke and Archie Bradley — have respective home ERAs of 5.89, 5.06 and 5.79.

3. Another crack at Ray
The Phillies faced Ray, a 24-year-old lefty, 10 days ago in Philly. Ray allowed two runs over six innings with seven strikeouts in a 10-2 D-backs win.

Ray's fastball averages 93.6 mph, the highest average velocity of any left-handed starter in baseball. You just don't see too many southpaws throwing heat these days — Ray (16th) and Steven Matz (17th) are the only two lefties in the top 20.

According to Pitch/FX, Ray threw just two pitches against the Phillies in that June 17 start: 89 four-seam fastballs and 19 sliders among 108 pitches. His velocity ranged from 85 mph with the slider up to 97 with the heater.

Current Phillies are 7 for 24 (.292) against Ray with two extra-base hits, a Cameron Rupp triple and a Cody Asche double. 

4. Offensive momentum
Had I told you before the Phillies' road trip began that they'd score a total of 22 runs in Minnesota, beat Madison Bumgarner and hang six runs on Johnny Cueto, you'd have assumed they'd be something like 4-2, right? Well, they're 2-4 so far because they haven't pitched well or caught the ball consistently this last week.

Still, it's been pleasant to see the Phillies' offense bounce back after all the time it spent at rock bottom. The key cogs in June have been Peter Bourjos, who's hit .404 in 51 plate appearances; Rupp, who's hit .283 with five homers, four doubles and a triple; Asche, who has eight doubles and two homers; and Andres Blanco, who has seven extra-base hits. 

The Phillies have hit .273 over their last seven games with 30 extra-base hits and a .798 OPS. They've out-homered their opponents 10-2.

5. This and that
• The All-Star game is creeping up and it's not easy to figure out which Phillie will get the nod (see story).

• The Phillies are 8-8 this season against left-handed starting pitchers. The only team in the majors to play fewer games against lefty starters has been the Red Sox (5-8).

• The Phils might want to try a new plan of attack with D-backs third baseman Jake Lamb. At CBP, he went 9 for 17 with a double, triple, two homers and five RBIs. Lamb, hitting .285/.364/.570 with 15 homers and 51 RBIs, could be an All-Star in two weeks.

• The D-backs have allowed 42 runs in six games since that Phillies series, in which they allowed five runs in four games.

Former Flyers coach Pat Quinn elected to Hockey Hall of Fame

Former Flyers coach Pat Quinn elected to Hockey Hall of Fame

Pat Quinn, who took the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final in 1980 and coached them to the longest unbeaten streak in NHL history — 35  games — was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday in the Builders category.

He will be joined by former Flyers great Eric Lindros, who was selected in the player category (see story).  

The 6-foot-3 Quinn, a proud Irishman, who defined blueline toughness for two decades into the late 1970s, died after a long illness at the age of 71 in November of 2014.

His historic unbeaten streak occurred during the 1979-80 season.

Quinn succeeded fellow Hall of Famer Fred Shero in 1977-78 and stayed with the Flyers through all but the final eight games of the 1981-82 season when he was replaced by Bob McCammon.

Quinn had been an assistant under Shero previously.

Bill Barber was Quinn’s veteran left wing during their famed unbeaten streak — the same season the Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the Islanders in a controversial six-game series.

“I always put Pat Quinn up there with Fred Shero because he was a very big part of our success when he was there,” Barber told CSNPhilly.com.

“He was a huge part of the 35-game unbeaten streak. We didn’t have the most talent in the league but we had a team that worked together and Pat made sure everyone understood their role.

“He was a good communicator and he was quiet. He gave every player the opportunity to be themselves. He did not restrict or any of those other things within the game. I had the utmost respect for him.”

After he was fired by the Flyers, Quinn enrolled in Widener University to study law. He eventually earned his degree at the University of San Diego and would use his knowledge of law as a GM throughout the remainder of his career in hockey.

Quinn was Chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame in recent years prior to his passing, and worked tirelessly to get Shero elected to the Hall in 2013.

He was just one of four men to win the Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year with two different clubs — the Flyers (1979-80) and Vancouver (1991-92).

He played over 600 games on defense — among the last of the original Atlanta Flames — and coached more than 1,400 games.

After leaving the Flyers, Quinn joined the Los Angeles Kings in 1984-85, then Vancouver (1990-91) and Toronto (1998-2006).

He also served as general manager in both Vancouver and Toronto. Upon leaving the Leafs, he took a few seasons off before returning in 2009-10 to coach the Edmonton Oilers.

Quinn was actively involved with Team Canada and the Olympics throughout his coaching career.

When the 2009-10 season ended, Quinn left the NHL to join Hall’s Selection Committee. He assumed the role as board chairman in 2013.

At the 2012 Winter Classic played at Citizens Bank Park, Quinn served as the Flyers Alumni team coach.

The late Flyers’ chairman, Ed Snider, said of Quinn two years ago, “Pat Quinn was an outstanding hockey coach. He had an excellent career as a player, coach, general manager and hockey executive. He was terrific at everything he did, including Chair of the Hockey Hall of Fame. He truly knew how to get our players to play hard every night.”

Bob Kelly, a member of the 35-game unbeaten squad, said Quinn lived life to the fullest. People who knew him referred to him as “The Big Irishman.”

“He enjoyed St. Paddy’s Day to the fullest,” Kelly said. “I remember he always got dressed up. Just a fun guy and a positive guy, too. He had his cigars and Freddie used to have his beers. That’s what it was. You can’t change the era. Just a good guy to be around.”

Quinn was nominated for the Hall’s consideration last year, as well.

This time, he made it.

This story contains previous published information from Tim Panaccio on CSNPhilly.com.

Dominating Flyers great Eric Lindros gets call to Hall of Fame

Dominating Flyers great Eric Lindros gets call to Hall of Fame

When Eric Lindros’ Flyers career ended with a fourth concussion in the spring of 2000, the last thing anyone considered was whether the franchise centerman would someday be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The viable question then was whether he’d ever wear orange and black again in the NHL. He didn’t.

Eventually, the former captain did don his No. 88 Flyers jersey once more at a 2012 Winter Classic alumni game a few days before the Flyers faced the New York Rangers at Citizens Bank Park.

And on Monday, the most heralded Flyers center since Bobby Clarke was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The 43-year-old Lindros becomes the 12th Flyer enshrined. The last was defenseman Mark Howe in 2011.

Because of his tumultuous relationship with Clarke, then the general manager, plus the fact he missed more than two seasons with injuries — nearly all of which were concussion-related — it was questionable whether the third-leading scorer among Flyers centermen (659 points) would ever enter the Hall.

Clarke, who sits on the Hall’s selection committee and was instrumental in getting Lindros enshrined, said some years ago that regardless of how things unfolded in the past, Lindros was deserving of enshrinement as one of the preeminent centers of his generation.

Anyone who saw Lindros play in 1990s would admit he was the most dominant power forward of his era and rightfully belonged there.

Whereas NFL coaches design defenses to stop specific quarterbacks and running backs, NHL coaches had to design game plans to contain the towering 6-foot-4 Lindros.

“You look at Eric when he played, he was dominant,” former teammate John LeClair said in 2014. “When you compare some of the players who have gotten in that played with him, it’s not even close.

“When players were getting ready to play, they weren’t saying, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to play against so and so or so and so.’

“Every time they had to play against Eric, they knew they were playing him two or three days ahead of time and they were ready because they knew that he was just a dominant force out there and they had to be ready.”

LeClair was Lindros’ linemate for 5½ years. Their line with Mikael Renberg — "The Legion of Doom" — ranks among the best in team history.

The Legion of Doom line had two years of remarkable performances under coach Terry Murray with a record 255 points in 1995-96 followed by 235 points in 1996-97, the only year they skated together in a Stanley Cup Final.

“John, Mikael and I were a pretty special group,” Lindros recalled two years ago. “We set up one another and we certainly enjoyed playing with one another and being together on and off the ice. It really was a special group to be involved with.

“We were a pretty confident bunch. Certainly, there we some times that it didn’t turn out that way. But we’d like to think that overall we had a pretty good positive effect on the outcome of our games.”

The biggest blemish against Lindros was that he played just 760 games (486 as a Flyer) and wasn’t a 1,000-point player (865 points).

Well, neither was Peter Forsberg, who had 885 points in 708 games, and like Lindros, lost a third of career to injury, mostly regarding his feet and ankles.

Forsberg, who was part of the mega eight-player (including draft picks), $15 million deal that saw Lindros become a Flyer, did win two Stanley Cups with the Colorado Avalanche.

“Eric Lindros versus, whether it’s (Cam) Neely or Forsberg, Eric was a dominant player,” current Flyers GM Ron Hextall said. “Was it long enough? I don’t have the answer. He was a dominant player.

“There were years when you would say ‘Is he a Hall of Fame player? Yes.’ And probably other years where he was injured or hurt. Whether he did it long enough, for me, would be the question. He was a dominant player, no doubt.’’

The Hart Trophy winner in 1995, Lindros ranks in the top 10 in Flyers history in goals (290), assists (369), points, power play goals (82) and hat tricks (11).

His 1.36 points per game remain a franchise record.

“His comparison blows a lot of guys out of the water,” LeClair said.

During the 2014-15 season, Lindros and LeClair were inducted into the Flyers’ Hall of Fame.

All of the negativity that engulfed Lindros and the club during his eight years here has evaporated over time as fans came to understand that Lindros was at the forefront of players who suffered from post-concussion syndrome.

Whereas in the 1990s few knew or understood the disease, now both the NHL and NFL have guidelines in place to help protect players from such, though it’s arguable how closely those guidelines are followed.

For Lindros himself, he said he loved his time in Philadelphia, regardless of his feuds with the team over concussions. “The Big E” played 13 years in the league and was traded to the Rangers in 2001 after sitting out the previous season as a Flyer.

“They know hockey here,” Lindros said of Flyers fans. “They know the ins and outs of the game. They know when things are going well and when they’re not. They know, in some cases, really definitively why.

“As vocal as they are, it’s great when things are rolling, and it’s a real pick up your socks when things aren’t going so strongly. They’re true fans.”

And Lindros is a true Hockey Hall of Famer.