Eagles release Mike Patterson, Cullen Jenkins

Cullen Jenkins signed a $25 million deal in 2011, joining the Birds' free-agent "Dream Teamers."
Cullen Jenkins signed a $25 million deal in 2011, joining the Birds' free-agent "Dream Teamers." (YONG KIM / Staff)
Posted: February 27, 2013

To no great surprise, the Eagles released defensive tackles Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins on Monday.

Age, high-priced contracts, and the expected changes in the Eagles defense made their releases a foregone conclusion. Patterson will turn 30 before next season. Jenkins turned 32 last month.

Patterson was slated to earn slightly more than $4 million, while Jenkins had a $5.5 million salary, $1 million of which was to be paid in a roster bonus on March 12.

Approximately $1.5 million of Jenkins' salary is guaranteed, but there is offsetting language in his contract. If another team picks up the veteran, the Eagles will be off the hook for the guaranteed figure.

So the Eagles saved themselves at least $8 million and are now about $33 million under the salary cap for 2013. That's a lot of dough, and there could be more saved if Nnamdi Asomugha is released. The Eagles cornerback is due to make $15.5 million this season, but $4 million is fully guaranteed and will count against the cap even if he is cut.

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman met with Asomugha's agent, Ben Dogra, last week at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, and the topic of a restructuring was brought up. But the 31-year-old cornerback, who struggled in two seasons with the Eagles, appears more likely to be released than kept.

With Patterson and Jenkins gone, the Eagles have only four defensive tackles on the roster: Fletcher Cox, Derek Landri, Cedric Thornton, and Antonio Dixon. Landri will become an unrestricted free agent next month and is not expected to return.

Cox, Thornton, and Dixon could be the centerpieces of a revamped line in the Eagles' new defense. If the team employs the 4-3 "under" scheme that new coordinator Bill Davis ran with the Cardinals, Cox would likely be the three-technique defensive tackle, Thornton the strong-side defensive end, and Dixon the nose tackle.

The Eagles still have free agency and the draft to add more pieces. Only Cox is a surefire starter.

With Patterson's release, tackle Todd Herremans and defensive end Trent Cole become the longest-tenured Eagles. Herremans (fourth round) and Cole (fifth round) were selected after the Eagles took Patterson with the 31st overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft.

In a statement released by the Eagles, Patterson thanked the fans and his former team, which he said "treated me and my family with nothing but respect since the day I was drafted."

Patterson played in only five games last season. He underwent surgery to remove an arteriovenous malformation from his brain in January 2012 and was cleared to play in October.

He was diagnosed with pneumonia in December and was placed on the nonfootball injury list with three games left in the season. The move would have saved the Eagles approximately $150,000, but after Patterson's agents threatened to file a grievance and a public outcry followed, Roseman agreed to pay Patterson his full salary.

Roseman called Patterson "one of the toughest players I have ever been around" and noted "the many obstacles throughout his career."

Patterson suffered a seizure caused by his brain condition during a training-camp practice in August 2011. He missed all of the preseason but returned for the season opener and played in 15 games. Medication controlled the seizures until he had surgery.

In eight seasons with the Eagles, Patterson started in 99 of 115 games played. He recorded 551 tackles and 161/2 sacks, forced four fumbles, and had one interception. He was revered for his easygoing demeanor and was voted winner of the Eagles' 2011 Ed Block Courage Award by his teammates.

Jenkins signed a five-year, $25 million contract in July 2011, joining a number of other free agents the Eagles signed who became known as the "Dream Teamers."

He had a strong start with the Eagles but tailed off toward the end of his first season. He agreed to have his salary restructured last offseason, a sign that 2012 would likely be his last with the team.

"Thank you Eagles for everything the last 2 years," Jenkins said in a Twitter post. "Thank you fans. Sorry we didn't accomplish anything, but thank you all."

Jenkins started every game for the Eagles last season - as he did in 2011 - and recorded four sacks. A locker-room leader, Jenkins spent his first seven seasons in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers.

He briefly played in a 3-4 in Green Bay and could have been a fit in the Eagles' expected change to a hybrid front. But with the blossoming Cox and the promising Thornton, and a draft rife with talent at defensive tackle, the aging Patterson and Jenkins became expendable.

Contact Jeff McLane at jmclane@phillynews.com or on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.

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