When the Texans shifted from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense last season, a few hiccups were inevitable. The biggest of which was the neutering of middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans.
The 2006 NFL defensive rookie of the year had his worst NFL season despite starting every game, and the Texans opted to unload a contract that had been crafted under the presumption that Ryans would personally be much more productive.
G.M. Rick Smith praised Ryans while shipping him to Philadelphia. “DeMeco Ryans contributed significantly toward helping us build the foundation we hope will bring a world championship to the city of Houston,” Smith said in a statement distributed by the team. “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.”
And so for a mere fourth-round pick and the flip-flopping of third-round selections, the Eagles get something they badly need: a middle linebacker for their 4-3 defense.
“DeMeco is a proven Pro Bowl linebacker in this league and we’re excited to be able to plug him into the middle of our defense,” Eagles head coach Andy Reid said in a statement. “He’s been the signal caller and a leader on a very good Texans defense for the last several years. He’s a tough, instinctive football player and he’ll be a great fit for our team.”
“We’re thrilled to be able to add a young and productive linebacker in DeMeco Ryans,” added G.M. Howie Roseman. “We’d like to thank Rick Smith and the Texans. Once we found out that he could be available to us in a trade, we quickly found a way to work together to produce a good outcome for both teams.”
While it may have been a good outcome for the Texans, given that they cleared $5.9 million this year and $6.6 million next year in base salary off the books, it has the potential to be a great outcome for the Eagles. In 2011, defensive coordinator Juan Castillo could never find a linebacker alignment that consistently worked, in large part because no one could successfully handle the responsibilities of being the “mike.”
DeMeco will be that “mike” for the Eagles, and there’s no reason to think he won’t perform like he did in past years.
While both teams can declare victory on this one, the Eagles likely will see the move directly translate to more victories comes September.
And whether it’s from buying a player low or selling him high, the Eagles once again emerge from a trade with the apparent upper hand.