What Babin's release means for Eagles' future

Posted Nov. 29, 2012 @ 4:09 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

The Eagles' release of DE Jason Babin, which had many layers to it, still resonated days later.

The questions asked were myriad. Whose call was this? Why now? Other than cutting a player the Eagles didn’t want — but that at least eight others (the number of teams putting in a claim for him) did — what was the move designed to achieve?

The surface answer, courtesy of head coach Andy Reid, answers a part of the story. Cutting Babin allows the team to give more reps to younger players such as Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham. That’s fine, and it might be partially true. But you don’t have to cut a player to achieve that. This was a more thorough endeavor. This move was meant to send a message.

Was it a message to the players, some of whom appear to have given up in recent losses? Perhaps. But you first must ask where it came from. Reports have surfaced that cutting Babin was done above Reid’s head, where there are not too many other heads. It’s not clear if this was GM Howie Roseman’s call or if it came from owner Jeffrey Lurie. Roseman signed a five-year extension this offseason and appears to be in good standing with the owner, who clearly isn’t going anywhere and answers to no one.

Previously, it was believed that Reid had final say on most personnel matters. Is that still the case in what might be Reid's swan song with the team? This could be viewed as Roseman’s first move to sever himself from Reid — cutting the player who was a key element to the team’s defensive approach that Reid endorsed when he hired DL coach Jim Washburn prior to promoting Juan Castillo to defensive coordinator. Or it could be seen as Lurie’s call and that cutting Babin is a way of separating the team from Washburn without actually firing him yet.

Whatever the case might be, this also should be seen as the first of many cost-cutting, page-turning moves that lie ahead.

Reid’s fate hangs in the balance; he very well could be fired. QB Michael Vick, even before the wheels fell off, had few guarantees to be in the 2013 picture. CB Nnamdi Asomugha clearly isn’t playing up to his onerous contract. DT Cullen Jenkins is far less financially unwieldy in 2013, but he too could be sent packing; like Babin, he has seen his snaps decrease over the past few games.

It should be another fascinating offseason in Philly. Though perhaps not as promising as the 2011 free-for-all that, in essence, pushed this team down its fateful path.