NFL Nation: DeMeco Ryans to Eagles

DeMeco Ryans was due a $5.9 million base salary this season.

It’s Philadelphia’s salary to pay now.

The Texans dealt the inside linebacker to the Eagles. In return they get Philadelphia’s fourth-round draft choice in 2012, the fourth overall pick in the round that originally belonged to Tampa Bay. The Eagles and Texans also swapped third-round choices, with the Texans climbing from the 89th overall pick to the 77th pick in the draft.

Texans general manager Rick Smith issued this statement:

“DeMeco Ryans contributed significantly toward helping us build the foundation we hope will bring a world championship to the city of Houston. His professionalism and leadership cannot be over-exaggerated. This move was mutually beneficial for the Texans immediate and long-term goals, DeMeco’s career, and the Philadelphia Eagles. We appreciate all the hard work and effort DeMeco invested in our organization and wish him only the best moving forward. He is a class act.”

While fans surely feel an emotional attachment to Ryans, a quality player who was a great spokesman for the franchise, they should understand the move.

Ryans played only 58.23 percent of the Texans' defensive plays last season, a year after he missed the Texans’ final 10 games following shredding an Achilles tendon.

Darryl Sharpton was cutting into Ryans’ snaps before he missed the final eight games of last season after suffering a right knee/hamstring injury.

Sharpton was a fourth-round draft pick out of Miami in 2010. If he’s healthy, Sharpton is a young player the team will feel comfortable plugging in this fall beside Brian Cushing on base defense downs.

The move doesn’t do anything to alleviate the team’s cap issues. It actually will cost Houston $750,000 this year. While Ryans was due the large base salary, he had $9 million left of a prorated signing bonus that moves to this year with the trade. He will be off the Texans' books next year.

They also need options for the right side of their line, where they cut tackle Eric Winston and watched guard Mike Brisiel go to Oakland as a free agent.

Those two and Ryans makes for three starters lost from the defending AFC South champs.

Two of his teammates spoke to Sirius XM NFL Radio.
  • Antonio Smith: “It’s a big surprise to me. I don’t know what is going on at this moment but DeMeco is a great player, a leader. He’s going to be an asset to each and every team he plays for. … Our defense is going to miss him. That’s all I can say about it. I’m not in agreeance with it.”
  • J.J. Watt: “DeMeco by far and away [is] the most respected guy on the defense, our leader. He’s a guy that everybody turns to especially when things are going tough. It’s tough to see him go, but at the end of the day, what can we do? He’s obviously going to go play great football for the Eagles. Now it’s time for the rest of us as a defense to step up and find a new leader and go out there and play football. We can’t do anything about that so it’s time for us to go out there and do it on our own.”
Those of you who've been waiting for the Philadelphia Eagles to sign a free-agent linebacker are still going to be waiting for a while. The Eagles have decided instead to address their most pressing need with a trade. John McClain of the Houston Chronicle first reported, and the team has since announced, that the Eagles have agreed to trade a fourth-round draft pick (the fourth pick in that round) to the Houston Texans for middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans. The Eagles also announced that the teams will swap third-round picks, with Houston getting the 77th overall pick in the draft and the Eagles getting the 89th.

John says the trade is contingent upon Ryans, who tore his Achilles tendon in 2010, passing a physical Wednesday. But assuming he passes the physical, Ryan is a great pickup for the Eagles. He was a leader of the Texans' defense and one of the emerging defensive stars of the league before his injury. Once fully healed in 2011, he played well, but he was a poor fit in the 3-4 defensive alignment to which the Texans had switched under Wade Phillips. He's better suited as a true middle linebacker in a 4-3, and that's surely the role the Eagles acquired him to play.

Ryan will turn 28 years old in July and is signed through 2015 at about $6.5 million per year, though none of the money is guaranteed past this season. He immediately becomes the best linebacker on the Eagles' roster and is as strong an option as any they would have found on the free-agent market. It's an excellent pickup for the Eagles, who needed as much help as possible at the position, and to answer a lot of people's first question, no, I do not think it precludes them from getting another linebacker or drafting someone like Boston College's Luke Kuechly in next month's draft.

What it does do is solidify the middle of a defense that was extremely vulnerable in that part of the field in 2011 and shows the Eagles are serious about addressing a position they ignored to their detriment during their free-agent signing spree last summer.