BETHLEHEM, Pa. Jason Babin isnt going to pretend the money wasnt a big part of coming to Philly.
Its just that it wasnt the biggest part.
When people talk about whats important to them in signing a contract, you hear, cash, cash, cash, Babin said. Ive been very fortunate in my time playing football, and Im OK with money. Thats not why I play the game.
When I sat down with my wife and my agent and went over the criteria for what team I wanted to go to, the No. 1 thing for me really was that I want to finish my career in one place and win a Super Bowl, and I know how committed that organization is to winning a Super Bowl. I know Im going to have a great chance to do that with the Eagles.
Babin, who had a breakthrough 12-sack season playing under defensive line coach Jim Washburn in Tennessee last year, rejoined the Eagles Thursday, signing a five-year, 28 million deal that the Eagles hope finally gives the defense a second potent pass rusher alongside Trent Cole Babins close friend and hunting partner.
Babin spent the 2009 season with the Eagles, recording 2 sacks in 12 games.
Im really excited about coming back to Philly, Babin said by phone Thursday evening. I saw how they operate when I was there the first time, and thats just a professional organization that does things the right way.
Theyve got some great talent on defense, theyve got a high-powered offense, its a city that really welcomed me two years ago, and its a team that you feel like has a chance to get to the Super Bowl.
Babin and other unrestricted free agents changing teams cant sign their new contracts until 6 p.m. Friday at the earliest and arent allowed to practice with their new teams until next Thursday.
Babin, who earned 620,000 as an Eagle in 2009, has credited Washburn (see Ray Didinger's story) with reviving his career in their one year together in Tennessee, and said soon after the 2010 season ended and the Eagles hired Washburn from the Titans that he would have to consider signing with the Eagles to reunite with Washburn.
Getting back together with Wash was certainly an influential part of my decision, Babin said.
Babin said he plans to move his family to the Philadelphia area year-round and after changing teams five times since 2007, he isnt planning on changing again.
I wanted to go somewhere where I could finish my career, Babin said. I want to finish on a good run, a great run. I want to play the rest of my career in one place.
Cole has been the Eagles only big-time pass rusher in recent years, and his 57 sacks since he became a full-time starter in 2006 are third-most in the NFL over the past five years. Cole has three double-digit sack seasons, but no other Eagle defensive end has recorded double-digit sacks since Hugh Douglas in 2002. Darren Howard had 10 sacks in 2008, but he spent that year as a third-down defensive tackle.
The Eagles pass rush was virtually non-existent after the first month of last season. They recorded 12 sacks in their first three games, then just 29 in their final 14 games. Only 11 teams had fewer sacks the last 13 regular-season games last year.
They had to do something.
So despite a glut of defensive ends on the roster Brandon Graham, Darryl Tapp, Ricky Sapp, Victor Abiamiri, Phillip Hunt, Juqua Parker the Eagles entered free agency targeting Babin first and Minnesota defensive end Ray Edwards second.
But they believed that Edwards, who has never had more than 8 sacks in a season, was the lesser player and wanted too much money. He was definitely their second priority behind Babin. Edwards, as of Thursday morning, still was unsigned.
Babin was considered a first-round bust until he blossomed last year under Washburn in Tennessee.
The move is certainly not without risk. Babin is 31 years old and has had only one good season in seven years. From 2004 through 2009, he averaged 2.9 sacks per season. In his previous stint with the Eagles, he managed only 2 sacks, although that was with Rory Segrest as his position coach, so it has a big asterisk next to it.
Babin, the 27th pick in the 2004 draft, netted just 17 sacks in six NFL seasons with the Oilers, Seahawks, Chiefs and Eagles. But last year, in his first year as a full-time starter since 2004, he made his first Pro Bowl team and ranked third in the AFC with 12 sacks.
What does this mean for Graham, last years first-round pick? Hes not due back till the middle of the season after off-season microfracture knee surgery. Beyond that, if hes healthy, hes now a backup as long as Babin is productive.
But hes also only 23 years old and signed through 2015. Babin is 31 and Cole is 28, so at some point the Eagles still hope Graham can blossom into a starting end. Graham had three sacks in 12 games as a rookie last year before getting hurt.
E-mail Reuben Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @RoobCSN.
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