The Eagles made another move in free agency Wednesday to upgrade special teams, signing linebacker Bryan Braman to a two-year deal.
The 6-foot-5, 241-pound Braman, 26, spent his first three seasons with the Texans after going undrafted out of West Texas A&M. He emerged as Houston’s best special teams player and was named a Pro Bowl alternate two years ago.
Braman will compete as a backup outside linebacker and contribute on the Eagles’ special teams.
“You don’t find many players of Bryan’s size with the ability to run down the field and make plays on special teams,” Chip Kelly said. “It’s an area of the game that we always have our eye on and look to improve. With his size, we also like his potential as a guy who can compete for spot as an outside linebacker.”
Special teams is one of Kelly’s biggest points of emphasis. Earlier on Wednesday, the Eagles struck a three-year deal with safety Chris Maragos (see story), a special teams star for the Super Bowl champion Seahawks who will inherit Colt Anderson’s role.
Anderson became a free agent Tuesday afternoon and is one of several Eagles safeties from 2013 who probably won’t return.
Last year, the Eagles ranked 11th in punt coverage and 19th in kickoff coverage. They were worse in the return game, ranking 25th in punt and 27th on kickoffs.
Braman, whose college career started at Idaho and included a transfer to Long Beach City College before ending at West Texas A&M, has 31 special teams tackles since signing with Houston in 2011.
In 2012 he was named to USA Today’s “All-Joe” Team and named a Pro Bowl alternate after finishing with a team-best 16 special teams tackles and setting a franchise record with two blocked punts, one of which he returned eight yards for a touchdown.
“We are always looking for core special teams players and Bryan has made his mark in this league on those units,” general manager Howie Roseman said. “He’s a big, physical player who plays with a tremendous amount of toughness.”
During his senior season at West Texas A&M, Braman was suspended after being arrested and charged with manufacturing a controlled substance, a hallucinogenic known as mushrooms. He eventually pled guilty.