Eagles' best and worst free-agent signings

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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)

Vince Velasquez is subject of serious trade talks between Phillies, Rangers

Vince Velasquez is subject of serious trade talks between Phillies, Rangers

ATLANTA — Seven months after he was acquired from the Houston Astros and anointed a key piece in the Phillies’ rebuild, pitcher Vince Velasquez could be on the move again.

The Phillies and Texas Rangers are “pretty deep” in trade discussions involving Velasquez, a major league source told CSNPhilly.com on Friday night (see story).

The Rangers’ interest in Velasquez was reported by Jon Morosi of MLB Network earlier in the week and essentially confirmed when three Rangers scouts, including Scott Littlefield, one of that club’s top talent evaluators, showed up at Turner Field for Velasquez’s start against the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.

Velasquez delivered a solid but unspectacular performance in a 2-1 loss to the Braves, but he still has the qualities that attracted the Phillies to him last winter. He’s just 24 years old and has a power arm that has produced a 3.32 ERA in 18 starts. He has the upside to pitch at or near the top of a rotation if his development goes in the right direction and he stays healthy. That is a legitimate concern because he had Tommy John surgery as a young minor leaguer and spent time on the disabled list earlier this season with a biceps strain.

The question now is: where will Velasquez continue his development? Philadelphia? Texas? Somewhere else?

Clearly, the Phillies’ big wintertime acquisition is in play as Monday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline approaches.

Manager Pete Mackanin said he knows nothing of the front office’s trade plans, but he offered his opinion on trading a young pitcher like Velasquez.

“Our whole goal was to get young pitchers because they’re the most expensive commodity and if you can develop young pitchers like him and have four or five of those guys, then you’re ahead of the game,” Mackanin said. “But at the same time, at least as far as I’m concerned, I’ll listen to any offers. If you get three guys that are really good looking prospects because pitching is such a commodity, I’m sure you have to consider it.”

With the Rangers' scouts looking on, Velasquez pitched six innings and gave up seven hits and two runs. He walked two and struck out five. His fastball reached 96 mph, proving that his stuff is good. Mackanin, however, said he thought Velasquez relied too much on his off-speed stuff instead of his power fastball.

“It was unusual to me the way he pitched,” Mackanin said. “It was almost like a finesse pitcher instead of a power pitcher. I’m not arguing with it because he did a good job, but he made me a little nervous here and there. I like the 16 strikeouts.”

That, of course, was a reference to Velasquez’s 16-strikeout complete game win over the Padres on April 14. Could anyone have imagined that he'd be the subject of trade talks 3½ months later?

Velasquez said he was aware of the trade buzz surrounding him and unbothered by it. He’s been down this road before. He said he would not be disappointed if he were traded because he understands baseball is a business.

“At first when I got traded from the Astros it was kind of tough for me, but you have to move on and make the best of what you've got,” Velasquez said. “If things happen, just let it happen. If I go to another team, then I've got to make the best of what I've got there. There's a lot of things that are in the future. I don't know what to expect is what I'm saying. Again, all I can do is live in the present and live another day tomorrow. If something happens, something happens. I've got to make the best of what you've got today.

“It's just one of those things I can't control. I had to fight, had to battle for a spot here in Philadelphia and I'm very thankful for the opportunity and everything. Again, I've still got to keep working hard and make the best of what I've got.”

Any team looking to acquire Velasquez would have to pay a steep price. In addition to having talent and upside, he won’t be eligible for salary arbitration until after the 2018 season and free agency until after the 2021 season.

The Phillies have a good knowledge of Texas’ deep farm system having scouted it extensively — and plucked from it — in making the deal for Cole Hamels a year ago. Are the Phillies about to fuel their rebuild with more talent from the Texas system? Stay tuned.

Velasquez isn’t the only Phillies starter who could move. Several teams remain interested in Jeremy Hellickson (see story), who is scheduled to pitch against Atlanta on Saturday night. The Rangers, in fact, have some interest in Hellickson as a fallback option if they don’t get a pitcher elsewhere. Velasquez is not the only pitcher the Rangers have on their radar, but from a Phillies’ perspective, he is certainly the most interesting.

Best of MLB: Rougned Odor homers twice for Rangers in 8-3 win over Royals

Best of MLB: Rougned Odor homers twice for Rangers in 8-3 win over Royals

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rougned Odor homered twice, A.J. Griffin pitched into the sixth inning and the Texas Rangers beat the Kansas City Royals 8-3 on Friday night.

Jurickson Profar also went deep for the Rangers, and scored three runs.

Odor hit a solo homer in the first that put AL West-leading Texas up 3-0 against Edinson Volquez (8-9). That 443-foot drive into the second deck of seats in right field came a night after Odor's 465-footer that is the longest in his career. He had another solo shot in the seventh, his 21st of the season barely clearing the 8-foot wall in right.

Eric Hosmer homered for the defending World Series champion Royals, who dropped to 10 games behind Cleveland in the AL Central.

Griffin (4-1) had his longest outing in seven starts in just over a month since coming off the disabled list because of right shoulder stiffness. The right-hander struck out one and walked two while throwing 66 of 98 pitches for strikes in 5 2-3 innings (see full recap)

Chatwood, Gonzalez lead Rockies over Mets for 4th win in row
NEW YORK -- Tyler Chatwood kept winning on the road, Carlos Gonzalez homered and drove in four runs and the Colorado Rockies defeated the New York Mets 6-1 Friday night for their fourth straight victory.

Mark Reynolds also homered for the surging Rockies, who are 11-4 since the All-Star break and have moved within four games of Miami for the second NL wild-card spot.

Chatwood (10-6) improved to 6-0 with a 1.30 ERA away from Coors Field this season. The 26-year-old is 4-6 with a 5.69 ERA at home.

Gonzalez matched a season-high hitting streak of 11 games with an RBI double in the first. He hit a 448-foot, three-run drive in the ninth for his 21st homer.

Steven Matz (8-7) gave up two runs and 10 hits in six innings (see full recap)

Lester recovers from rut of bad starts, Cubs rout Mariners
CHICAGO -- Jon Lester recovered from a rut of bad starts, pitching six shutout innings that led the Chicago Cubs over the Seattle Mariners 12-1 Friday for their third straight win.

Jason Heyward and David Ross homered as the NL Central leaders improved to 9-5 since the All-Star break following a 1-9 slump. Seattle lost in its first trip to Wrigley Field since 2007.

Lester (11-4) had lasted just 16 innings over his previous four starts, going 1-1 with a 10.13 ERA. That skid came after he had gone 9-3 with a 2.03 ERA in his first 16 starts.

Lester gave up four hits, struck out seven and walked two. He was already done when there was a 74-minute rain delay in the seventh.

Mike Montgomery, traded last week from Seattle to the Cubs, pitched the final two innings. He gave up a single to Shawn O'Malley in the ninth for the Mariners' run.

Hisashi Iwakuma (11-7) had won his last five starts, but gave up five runs and eight hits in three innings (see full recap).

Source: Phillies, Rangers in 'pretty deep' trade talks about Vince Velasquez

Source: Phillies, Rangers in 'pretty deep' trade talks about Vince Velasquez

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — The Phillies lost, 2-1, to the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.

The big news from this game, however, was that Vince Velasquez might have made his last start with the Phillies. A major league source told CSNPhilly.com that the Phillies and Texas Rangers are “pretty deep” in trade discussions involving Velasquez. The Rangers, the source said, also have some interest in Jeremy Hellickson, who pitches for the Phillies on Saturday night, but he appears to be a secondary target (see story).

It would take top talent to get Velasquez, a 24-year-old right-hander with a power arm. The Phillies acquired him over the winter from Houston as the centerpiece in the deal that sent Ken Giles to the Astros.

The Rangers had several scouts at the game, including Scott Littlefield, one of their top talent evaluators.

The Rangers’ interest in Velasquez was reported earlier in the week by Jon Morosi of MLB Network.

Apparently there’s more than just interest (see story). Stay tuned as Monday’s trade deadline approaches.

Starting pitching report
Velasquez scattered seven hits and two runs over six innings. He walked two and struck out five. Velasquez battled some command issues and needed 91 pitches to complete the six innings.

He is 8-3 with a 3.32 ERA in 18 starts. He has a 2.75 ERA in six starts since a brief stint on the disabled list with a right biceps strain.

Braves right-hander Tyrell Jenkins gave up just one unearned run over six innings.

Bullpen report
Both bullpens pitched scoreless ball.

At the plate
Phillies leadoff man Cesar Hernandez reached base in his first three at-bats and scored the Phillies’ only run on an error in the third inning. 

The Braves scored two runs in the third inning on three singles, a sacrifice bunt and a walk against Velasquez. Gordon Beckham and Nick Markakis drove in the runs with base hits.

Up next
Hellickson (7-7, 3.65) makes perhaps his final start with the Phillies on Saturday night. He will face Braves right-hander Julio Teheran (3-8, 2.71).