Part 10 of 10
No. 1 Troy Vincent
The Eagles continued their aggressive posture in pursuing free agents once again in 1996 when they signed young Miami Dolphins cornerback Troy Vincent. The emerging star quickly became a team leader and a key component of the Eagles defense for the next eight seasons.
Vincent was recognized around the league for his coverage skills and was elected to the Pro Bowl five consecutive seasons while playing for the Eagles. In 2002, he was named first-team All-Pro and recognized as the "NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year" for his work off the field.
The eloquent cornerback was also big and physical enough to be very effective in press coverage and run support. Unlike many at his position, he was a solid tackler with well rounded skills.
Before the term "shutdown corner" became a regular part of NFL vernacular, Vincent played that role in an Eagles uniform. He particularly flourished in Jim Johnson's attacking defense that relied on its cornerbacks two single up in man-to-man coverage.
The Final Word
Since the advent of free agency in the NFL, the Eagles have added some players who have made a significant impact to the team. Overall, the organization has been very selective and targeted in its approach.
The team was most aggressive and successful in 1996 and 2000 when it signed a pair of impact players in each respective off-season. In 1996, it was Irving Fryar and Troy Vincent. Then, four years later, they signed Jon Runyan and Carlos Emmons.
Further dissecting the top ten free agent additions, half of them contributed no more than three impact years. Conversely, Akers, Runyon and Vincent went on to make substantial contributions with the club for extended periods of time.
Most of the big-name unrestricted free agents have signed elsewhere in 2010, but it is still possible that the Eagles will attempt to sign a more established player than they have thus far. Marlin Jackson and Mike Bell could make a meaningful contribution this season; however, it is highly doubtful that they will be the difference makers that the team clearly needs.
Is there a William Fuller, Troy Vincent or Jon Runyan still out there?