As the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine wraps up in Indianapolis, teams are beginning to divest themselves of bloated, unnecessary, or otherwise undesirable contracts prior to the March 12th new league year. One of those teams is the Philadelphia Eagles who, on Monday, parted ways with defensive tackles Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson.
Jenkins was a pretty significant free agent signing for the 'Iggles' back in 2011. Coming off a Super Bowl season in Green Bay, Jenkins earned a five-year, $25 million contract with Philly, and he backed it up with his play. He had 40 tackles and 5.5 sacks in 2011 and 26 tackles and 4 sacks in 2012. For a defensive tackle in a 4-3 'wide 9' scheme, that's good production.
However, after Andy Reid's meltdown in Philly in 2012, resulting in his firing and the eventual hiring of Oregon's Chip Kelly as the new head coach, the Eagles are now moving on to a 3-4 defensive scheme. Per Jenkins himself (via John Clark of NBC10), Philly general manager Howie Roseman told him prior to his release that the Eagles were moving in a new direction, wanting younger players who were better fits in a 3-4 scheme.
Thus, both Jenkins and Patterson were released.
Patterson was a first round pick of the Eagles back in 2005 (31st overall) out of USC. He amassed 338 combined tackles and 16.5 sacks in 8 seasons there. His 2012 season was cut short because he was still healing from... and we're serious here... brain surgery.
Patterson was diagnosed with cerebral arteriovenous malformation after suffering a seizure in 2011. In January 2012, he underwent brain surgery and missed all of training camp last season and half the regular season while recovering. He returned to the field on November 5th and played Weeks 9-14.
These moves are significant for the Indianapolis Colts because, as you readers know, general manager Ryan Grigson used to work for Howie Roseman in Philadelphia front office back when Jenkins was signed and Patterson was drafted. The Colts need help at both the NT and the DE positions in their 3-4 defense, and just because the Eagles don't think they fit in their new 3-4 scheme doesn't mean they are bad fits for the Colts.
Since Cullen Jenkins left the Packers, who also run a 3-4 scheme, their defense simply hasn't been the same. B.J. Raji was exposed as a less-than-marquis level player while the Green Bay defense has surrendered an average of 4.6 yards-per-carry in each of the last two seasons.