LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- One area the Chicago Bears failed to address in the shortened, post-lockout free agency period was defensive end. Just a year after locking up premiere pass rusher Julius Peppers to a six-year deal that included a $10.5 million signing bonus, the Bears had the chance to solidify the other side of the defensive line with another high-profile end.
A few high-profile players like Ray Edwards and Jason Babin were on the open market, but the Bears ultimately opted to stand pat with veteran Israel Idonije, 2010 draft pick Corey Wootton, Nick Reed and Mario Addison.
The Eagles, on the other hand, decided to go a different route. With one defensive end spot already occupied by two-time Pro Bowler Trent Cole (44 sacks over the last four years), Philadelphia opened up its wallet to ink Babin to a five-year, $28 million contract.
It proved to be a homecoming of sorts for Babin, who the Eagles allowed to leave for Tennessee following 2009. During his one year with the Titans, the eight-year veteran recorded 12.5 sacks and was named to his first ever Pro Bowl.
Safe to say Philadelphia was eager to atone for its mistake.
"We had him before so it was kind of a unique situation," Eagles head coach Andy Reid said Thursday. "I tell people it was a real smart move on my part letting him go ... he goes and makes the Pro Bowl [with the Titans]. We enjoyed having him the year he was here and realized we probably should have played him more. We made an effort when free agency started to get him back here. He had a relationship with [current Philadelphia defensive line coach] Jim Washburn, his defensive line coach from Tennessee, so it kind of fit into what we were trying to do here."
Babin is fitting in just fine. Through seven games, the Eagles free agent pick-up leads the team and is third in the NFL with nine sacks, while also topping his defense with 22 hurries. Cole and Babin combined to sack Cowboys QB Tony Romo three times in Philadelphia's 34-7 victory over Dallas last Sunday night.
Every team would agree the only thing better than one outstanding pass rusher, is two outstanding pass rushers. But unlike other teams, the Eagles were willing to pay for that luxury.