Chalk up another pair of breaking stories by Jeff McLane. According to the Inquirer reporter, the Eagles severed ties with a second defensive end today, releasing former mega-free agent signings Darren Howard and Kevin Curtis. They avoid paying each of them a $1 million roster bonus and $3.5 million (est.) base salaries in 2010. Howard's cap value ballooned to over $8 million in 2011, while Curtis saw base salary increases through the length of his contract, peaking at $6.4 mil in 2012.
After signing a huge deal with the Birds in 2006, Howard started all 16 games, producing a very underwhelming 5.0 sacks that season. He was demoted the following season, and despite playing all 16 games, his snaps were limited and he added just 1.0 sack. Things would turn around in a big way though. Howard showed up to camp in '08 much lighter, and it translated to an improved performance on gameday, reaching the quarterback 10 times from his situational role. Last season he finished with 6.5.
You could certainly question the wisdom behind releasing one of the club's only legitimate pass rushers outside of Trent Cole. They need to add talent at defensive end, not get rid of it. This obviously speaks volumes on how they feel about the addition of Darryl Tapp, who expects to see time on the left side. They are also very likely to draft another end, so it could be a crowded group come May.
While Howard wasn't a total bust, he never lived up to his contract after accumulating 44.5 sacks in six season with the Saints. It's worth noting he signed coming off a knee injury, and had missed at least four starts between '03-'05. Ironically enough, Iggles Blog just posted earlier today a surprising stat and argued he should remain an Eagle.
The release of Kevin Curtis is absolutely not a surprise. With Jeremy Maclin contributing a solid rookie season, and Jason Avant proving to be a reliable slot receiver, the writing was on the wall for Curtis. He caught 77 passes for 1,110 yards and 6 touchdowns in his first season, but injuries limited him to just nine starts in the past two seasons.
With his strong showing in 2007, the former Rams receiver proved he could be more than a slot receiver in the NFL in terms of ability, but ultimately the extended use may have factored into his inability to stay on the field.