The current administration for Philadelphia has never really valued the position of linebacker. They haven’t had a real star at the position since Jeremiah Trotter. They haven’t even spent a first round pick on the position since 1979, when they took Jerry Robinson out of UCLA.
While the Eagles have never invested much in the position during the Andy Reid era, it is essential to have depth and skill there. What kind of depth does the team currently have?
At the middle linebacker position, the Eagles have two potential options, with the starting role presumably going to second year player Jamar Chaney. Chaney was thrust into the starting role in Week 15 against the Giants. During the last three weeks of the regular season and the playoffs, he proved that he can be effective at the position. In his first career start, he posted 16 tackles, and then continued to play well.
The other options on the roster at middle linebacker are free agent Stewart Bradley, who has been with this team since 2007. He has claimed the starting middle linebacker role for the majority of his career, but has had a history of injuries, and missed the entire 2009-10 season with a torn ACL. He has shown flashes of being a solid linebacker in this league, but hasn’t been the same player since his injury.
At the strong side, you will likely see a battle between Stewart Bradley, Moise Fokou, and Akeem Jordan. Jordan has been a solid special-teamer and backup for the team, but may lose his job with the team due to a few of the new linebackers coming in.
Among these new linebackers are Casey Matthews and Brian Rolle. Matthews, the younger brother of All-Pro linebacker Clay Matthews, will look to assume the weak side linebacker role. He will compete with second year player Keenan Clayton.
Clayton is a worthy candidate after a decent 2010 season. He played well both on special teams, and when he was called upon to play in the base defense.
Brian Rolle, a 5′ 10″ linebacker out of Ohio State, should be a life long special teamer, but a very good one.
Do not be surprised if the Eagles make a run at a star linebacker during the free agency period, (and based on the team’s precedents, do not be surprised if they don’t).