Jason Babin was unceremoniously released yesterday by the Philadelphia Eagles the morning after playing in their Monday night loss to the Carolina Panthers. He played 40 of the team’s 56 defensive plays (71%) and recorded 4 tackles and a sack. For the season, he’s started every game and played in over 60% of the defensive plays. But, apparently the team decided the rise of rookie Vinny Curry made Babin and his high salary expendable.
Babin followed Defensive Line Coach Jim Matthews from Tennessee to the Eagles in 2011 signing a 5-year, $27.5 million contract (Babin is currently 32). Although his production has dropped off this season, he still led the Eagles with 5.5 sacks and is a 2-time Pro Bowler. One could certainly argue that the entire team’s production has dropped off in a fairly miserable 3-8 season so far including an unprecedented (under Andy Reid) seven straight losses. Babin was never a fan favorite but the team’s struggles made him a bit of a target.
There is little doubt the Cowboys could use Babin. The defense has been decimated and the loss of Kenyon Coleman for the season has made a noticeable difference in the run game defense. Babin is smaller than Coleman (6’3″, 260 lbs for Babin versus 6’5″ and 295 lbs for Coleman) and has always been known as a pass rusher. So, he wouldn’t necessarily plug the holes in the run defense, but adding another pass rusher to complement DeMarcus Ware certainly would not be a bad thing and something the Cowboys have been trying to do for a number of years.
The question isn’t whether they could use him in my opinion. The question is 1) Can they afford him?, and 2) What other teams are interested in him? Clearly, there is a cap issue for the Cowboys, but there is also plenty of dead weight so the Cowboys could probably find a way to make him fit. But, Babin must go through waivers first. That means another team has 24 hours to put in a claim for him. If more than one team puts in a claim, then the team with the worst won-loss record is awarded the player and his full, existing contract. If no one claims him, then he becomes a free agent and is free to negotiate a new deal with another team (or even the Eagles). The Cowboys don’t need another bloated contract, so I would not expect them to put in a claim for him on waivers. However, if he clears waivers then it could be very beneficial for the Cowboys to try to work out a deal. As always, there will be other teams in the mix that may want him more. But, wouldn’t it be sweet after the Asomugha fiasco a couple of seasons ago to pick up a pretty good ex-Eagle. And, it would also likely be attractive to Babin to stick it to the Eagles by signing with their division rivals. If it could be done quickly enough, Babin could likely give us some good information about the Eagles defense ahead of this Sunday night, nationally televised game. The Cowboys have been awful on this stage historically and the odds of the Cowboys making it eight straight losses for the Eagles are not good in my opinion. Any bit of information Babin could bring us along with his play on the field would be a big help.
I wouldn’t get your hopes up Cowboy fans, but it’s nice to dream about Jerry and his brain trust making moves that don’t involve signing players that no one else wanted (no offense, Poppinga and Armstrong, we’re glad to have you, but…). At least we’d have something new to talk about instead of watching another season slowly and painfully slip away like a dripping faucet. We’d have to win out to go 10-6 at this point and that may not even be good enough. It’s likely that only the division winner in the NFC East gets into the playoffs while the rest stay home. We have some work to do, no doubt. Go Cowboys!