Sep 11, 2011; St. Louis, MO, USA; Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Jason Babin (93) celebrates his sack over St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. The Eagles defeated the Rams 31-13. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

Ex-Eagle Jason Babin Is Still Looking For Work: Should The St. Louis Rams Take A Chance?


Update: Jason Babin has been claimed off of waivers by the Jacksonville Jaguars

 

The down spiraling of the Philadelphia Eagles might be the best story line of the NFL this season. The team that has been called both the “Dream Team” and a “dynasty” is currently sitting at 3-8 on the season, good enough for last place in the NFC. More impressively, the team has already fired their defensive coordinator, will likely fire the head coach, and will play the rest of the year without Michael Vick or DeSean Jackson on the field. Yesterday, the story got even juicer, when the team announced that Pro-Bowl defensive end, Jason Babin, had been released from the team…

Common sense suggests that no team should cut their best defensive linemen, possibly even the best player on the entire defense given the season that Rodgers-Cromartie and Asomugha are having. Reading past the press release B.S. that is spewed after the departure of every “big name” player, there are a couple of reason that Babin may have been let go: 1) his huge salary, on a team that is going to need to spend a lot of money on talent this offseason and 2) his apparent “lack of production,” with only 5.5 sacks on the season. There were also some reports earlier today that the decision to release Babin was a result of “lack of effort” during practice and in games, but come on…

There is a major flaw in both of those arguments, but the ineptitude within the Philadelphia front office would be pressed to consider them as they frantically search for a scapegoat to pin the season’s misfortunes. Having individual players with massive salaries is not a new concept in the NFL, but it doesn’t necessarily make sense to jump straight to cutting the player. Renegotiation of contracts is typically the first line, but sometime eating that contract is the next best option for a benchmark player on the team. Moreover, the idea of “buying” a team by bringing in the top free agents at every position has clearly not worked in the NFL, with the Eagle being the prime example. The next potential reasoning follows the first, namely that Babin’s production on the field was not a reflection of the money they were investing in the player. However, “production” has more variables than the raw sack total…

Outside of the monster year last season, where he amassed 18.5 sacks on way to the Pro Bowl, Babin averaged only 4.28 sacks per season. That number is actually an overestimate, skewed by the 12.5 sacks season in 2010 when he played for the Tennessee Titans. With 5.5 sacks already this season, Babin was on track to finish the year with 8.0 sacks, which might have been even higher considering they were playing the Dallas Cowboys this coming Sunday. Currently, there are only 17 players in the NFL with 8 or more sacks.

The other problem with “production” is that the term is subjective, inevitably determined by the progression of the team, and their success throughout the year. For a defensive end, sack numbers are often highly correlated with their offenses ability to put points on the board. The more points your team scores, the more likely your team is to be up at the end of the game. The longer your team is holding the lead, the more pass drops the opposing team is going to take in an attempt to catch up on the scoreboard. More passing attempts means more opportunities for sacks… simple math! That formula is not concrete, with elite players like DeMarcus Ware or Cameron Wake creating opportunities even with their teams down. However, the three leaders in the sack title race this season, Aldon Smith (16.5), J.J. Watt (14.5), and Von Miller (14.0), play for teams with a combined 26-6 record this season. The Eagles are rolling with a 3-8 record, which is made worse by a putrid offense that is ranked 30th in the league in points per game. Babin doesn’t even have the highest drop in sacks for the Eagles, with fellow defensive end, Trent Cole, recording only 1.5 sacks this year after averaging 11.2 sacks over the last three seasons. It also doesn’t help when Babin is on the field for less than 75% of the defensive snaps…

Regardless, Mr. Babin will be looking for work elsewhere this season, likely at a severely reduced pay cut from what he was collecting in Philadelphia. The most common names that have been thrown into the hunt have been the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints, and Green Bay Packers. However, of those teams, only the Patriots and the Saints run out of the 4-3 base defense, which is what Babin has had success playing in during the last couple of seasons. Considering his 18.5 sack season came last year in the Eagle’s “Wide 9″ defensive end alignment, which allows the D-end to use speed and quickness in open space on the edge,  it seems unlikely that he would post better numbers as a 3-4 base linemen or outside linebacker. Still, teams that have been decimated on the defensive side of the ball, like the Green Bay Packers and the Baltimore Ravens, may be willing to “take a chance” on the 2012 Pro Bowler.

Ex-Atlanta Falcon Ray Edwards has still not found a home after being released a couple of weeks ago, so does Babin have a better chance of getting signed? Yes. Should the St. Louis Rams consider taking a flyer on the Pro Bowler, adding depth to the defensive end rotation? Maybe. Your thoughts…

Should the St. Louis Rams add Jason Babin to the defensive end rotation with Chris Long and Robert Quinn?

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