Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: With Kolb gone, Eagles instantly upgrade defense

The phones at the NovaCare Complex rang Thursday. Finally, someone was there to answer on the other end.

When the conversations had ended, the team had signed free agent defensive end Jason Babin and completed a trade sending backup quarterback Kevin Kolb to Arizona for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick in 2012.

The Eagles confirmed the Kolb trade around 5 p.m. Thursday with a press release. However, they can’t comment on free agent signings until Friday.

Neither move was earth shattering. In fact, both were expected. While the impact won’t be seen until they take the field this weekend, it’s never too early to take a look at what kind of boost they could give a defense that struggled mightily last season.

New to nest

Jason Babin

Age: 31

Honors: Selected to 2010 Pro Bowl, 27th pick in 2004

How he fits in: Projected to start at LDE, opposite RDE Trent Cole

Stats: Recorded 12.5 sacks in 2010 (30 in 7 seasons)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Age: 25

Honors: Selected to 2009 Pro Bowl, 16th pick in 2008

How he fits in: Projected to start at RCB, opposite LCB Asante Samuel

Stats: Had three picks in 2010 (13 in 3 seasons)

Defense rests

The Eagles will have a new-look defense in 2011, including at least six
new starters. The Eagles were ranked 12th in overall defense last
season. Here’s our projected starters:

Left defensive end

Jason Babin: Out to prove 12.5 sacks was no fluke. Hopefully, he’s more than just a rotational player.

Left defensive tackle

Mike Patterson: Production was down in ’10. Still an imposing presence and run-stuffer in the middle.

Right defensive tackle

Antonio Dixon: Sky-rocketed up the depth chart after starting 10 games in ’10. Organization is very high on the 322-pounder.

Right defensive end

Trent Cole: One of the most underrated ends in the NFL. His
reaction to the Babin signing came via Twitter: “The hunting party
begins in Philadelphia.”

Weakside linebacker

Casey Matthews: He’ll get a shot, but he’s not his brother. Eagles still may pursue a veteran here.

Middle linebacker

Jamar Chaney: It’s his job to lose, and he knows it. Chaney reported to camp in tip-top physical shape.

Strongside linebacker

Moise Fokou: His name tops the depth chart, but he’s not long-term solution.

Left cornerback

Asante Samuel: Tackling issues remain, but he’s legit playmaker. He was only thrown at 36 times in ’10.

Right cornerback

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: Similar to Samuel. Ranks fourth among NFL corners with 16 picks in 49 starts since 2008.

Strong safety

Kurt Coleman: Showed promise while filling in at free safety in ’10. Said he learned a lot about SS position from Quintin Mikell.

Free safety

Nate Allen: Coming back from ruptured patellar tendon. Says he should be ready for Week 1.

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