Jason Babin: Trash to Treasure?
The Eagles have started their house clearing process and Jason Babin is first out the door. Khaled Elsayed examines what the former two time Pro Bowler has left to give.
Jason Babin: Trash to Treasure?
That’s what we’ve been told to expect from Philadelphia after their descent from hot start to hot mess. And now we’re seeing it in action.
That’s right the first big name to say bye-bye is Jason Babin who didn’t even make it to the end of year two of his five year deal. He joins fellow 2011 free agent Ray Edwards on the scrap heap after his team decided that long term he wasn’t worth what they’d invested in him
Unlike Ray Edwards though Babin has something teams crave: pass rushing ability. While some Eagles fans seem glad to be rid of him, he’s still a productive player who is bound to draw some interest around the league.
Let’s take a look.
The Journey So Far
Truth be told, for a variety of reasons (some of which he discussed here) Babin didn’t really live up to his draft status until he arrived in Tennessee in 2010. There he excelled in the wide-9 scheme, picking up 64 combined sacks, hits and hurries while ranking ninth in our grades for 4-3 defensive ends. That year with Tennessee he was a real force as part of their rotation, with the only real blemish being the 12 penalties for which he was flagged.
Still, he’d earned himself a big contract in Philadelphia and duly delivered in year one, once again finishing ninth in our 4-3 defensive end rankings. His “get after the QB at all costs” attitude irritated a few but you couldn’t argue with the production rushing the passer. 67 quarterback disruptions and the second highest pass rushing productivity score of all 4-3 defensive ends.
Worth the money and then some.
Only this year things haven’t gone as smoothly. His sack numbers are down and the Eagles are struggling and he’s become an easy target for their fans. Yet still, he has the seventh highest pass rushing productivity score of all 4-3 defensive ends (Trent Cole is 12th) and when it comes to his run stop percentage he’s a credible 23rd at the position.
Is he playing badly? No, but then at the same time I understand why the Eagles let him go.
Against the Panthers the Eagles had 10 defensive linemen take snaps. That’s a ridiculously deep rotation, and having a guy like Babin on the roster was limiting how much we got to see of both Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry. Graham has been a situational superstar this year turning his 93 pass rushing opportunities into two sacks, four hits and 16 hurries. It didn’t make sense to limit his opportunities, while Philadelphia clearly need to start getting a look at second round pick Vinny Curry who saw his first 22 snaps (nine rushing the passer) against the Panthers.
I get it, but it doesn’t mean Babin won’t be a good pickup for some team.
It’s always fun to speculate as to which teams might be interested in a player. Unlike Ray Edwards, the tape on Babin is a guy who can still get pressure so teams looking for an immediate boost to their pass rushing ranks (even if in just a situational role) would be foolish to not at least consider him.
Take a team like the Patriots. We know they’re not afraid of veterans if they think they can get production out of them. So with Chandler Jones coming back from an ankle injury and Jermaine Cunningham suspended, is he not a player that would be of interest to them? If they’d pick up Aqib Talib then why not have a look over Babin?
The Washington Redskins are a team that has struggled to replace Brian Orakpo and it’s made life a lot harder for Ryan Kerrigan. If they were to add a complimentary pass rusher, even in just their sub-package defense so Babin has his hand on the ground, would that not help? They got a firsthand look at what we could do when he got the better of Tyler Polumbus with ease. A serious playoff push requires seriously asking these questions.
Babin has always had his best success with his hand(s) in the dirt which might not make him an ideal fit for a team in need of pass rush like the Packers, but after seeing them pick up one free agent in the shape of Cedric Benson would you put it past them to go after another?
There are flaws to the game of Jason Babin, and while his ‘one trick pony’ tag is a bit overblown, making a move for him isn’t a guaranteed winner. Still, if you can pick up a guy on a short term deal with little risk, then why not give a talented guy a chance to earn himself a big deal come free agency?
I’m no general manager but you can never have enough good pass rushers right?
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled