The linebacker-needy Philadelphia Eagles just picked up a 27-year-old former All-Pro and Pro Bowl linebacker for a fourth-round pick. I hope the Texans also got a bouquet of flowers out of the deal.
DeMeco Ryans, who had fallen out of favor in Houston (with coaches, but certainly not with teammates ‒ more on that in a minute), will now be anchoring the middle of the Eagles defense.
The Texans were willing to let him go for a song because they really didn't have a place for him anymore. Ryans missed most of 2010 with an Achilles injury, and saw his playing time drop dramatically in 2011 as the Texans switched to a 3-4 defense. The Eagles will put him back in the middle of a 4-3.
Ryans was a captain and a respected teammate in Houston, and no one on the Texans defense seems particularly happy with the move. Jerome Solomon, who covers the Texans for the Houston Chronicle, shared these texts he got from current or former Texans teammates:
"Damn, man, and they talk about loyalty."
"Cold-blooded, man, cold-blooded. But Meco will be better off for it. He's going to dominate in Philly."
"They don't what leadership means, do they? Bet they won't finish No. 2 in defense next season."
Texans defensive end Antonio Smith said this on Sirius XM NFL Radio:
"It's a big surprise to me. I don't know what is going on at this moment but DeMeco is a great player, a leader. He's going to be an asset to each and every team he plays for. … Our defense is going to miss him. That's all I can say about it. I'm not in agreeance with it."
There are times when a guy means more to a unit than his stats represent. This would not be the first time in sports history a team underestimated the value of a player's leadership and ended up paying dearly for it. But at the same time, with what the Wade Phillips and the Texans were able to accomplish with their defense last year, they've earned the benefit of the doubt. Darryl Sharpton, a third-year player, will step into his spot, after making 12 tackles in eight games last year.
Texans general manager Rick Smith released this statement on the decision to trade Ryans:
"DeMeco Ryans contributed significantly toward helping us build the foundation we hope will bring a world championship to the city of Houston. His professionalism and leadership cannot be over-exaggerated. This move was mutually beneficial for the Texans immediate and long-term goals, DeMeco's career, and the Philadelphia Eagles. We appreciate all the hard work and effort DeMeco invested in our organization and wish him only the best moving forward. He is a class act."
And here's Eagles head coach Andy Reid, barely able to contain his glee:
"DeMeco is a proven Pro Bowl linebacker in this league and we're excited to be able to plug him into the middle of our defense," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "He's been the signal caller and a leader on a very good Texans defense for the last several years. He's a tough, instinctive football player and he'll be a great fit for our team."