Defense: Tackle or End, Which Way To Go?

If we accept the fact - and most Eagles fans do - that the birds must upgrade on the defensive line, then which way should they go? Would they be better off spending big bucks on a defensive end or a defensive tackle?

The Eagles are going to have some decisions to make on which way they go with their defensive line. Ideally, they'll add at least one end and one tackle during the off season, but do they use the draft, free agency or both to get their men? Odds are that they'll have to use both. With the free agency signing period a little more than two weeks away, the Eagles will have a chance to see exactly who's available and what kind of price tags they have.

The likely diamond of defensive free agency is John Abraham of the New York Jets. Abraham would be an awesome fit at defensive end, but there are no guarantees that he'll be on the market. The Jets could again put the franchise tag on him even though Abraham has said that he wants a long-term deal and is perfectly willing to move elsewhere to get it. Certainly though Abraham's situation is worth paying attention to in Philadelphia. It's rumored that they're also watching The Abraham Scenario in New England, Cleveland, Cincinnati, San Diego and in Washington.

Seattle is going to have a problem signing all of their players and one of them who could fall through the cracks is Rocky Bernard. You've got to feel at least a little bit for the Seahawks. They've got RB Shaun Alexander, OG Steve Hutchinson and WR Joe Jurevicius, along with Bernard, to re-sign. Unless they find some magical mathematical formula and a stack of cash, there's no way they can get it all done. If Bernard is the odd-man-out, the Eagles will be interested.

Another potential free agent is Indianapolis' Larry Triplett, but he comes in somewhere behind Abraham and Bernard. Of course, he also comes in a little behind them in price, so he could be appealing. While we're talking about the Colts, don't forget that if the Eagles want to get a free agent DE, Raheem Brock is out there. The Eagles had the Temple product a few years ago, but let him go. The guy can play and if the Eagles want to swallow their pride and bring him back to town, it wouldn't be a bad move.

One thing that the Eagles will keep in the back of their minds is the fact that there are pretty many good defensive ends in the draft, but not nearly as many defensive tackles who are considered impact players. So, do they try to figure out who among the ends may fall to them and grab one of them or do they try to get one of the few stud defensive tackles, possibly even trading up to do so?

Other factors in the decision will be how the Eagles view Trent Cole and whether they figure he can become a stud part of their defensive line and what sort of progress Jerome McDougle makes in his recovery from a gunshot wound.


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