Eagles bring back 2 special-teamers

Posted: March 13, 2013

ON THE DAY before the official start of NFL free agency, the Eagles took care of a couple of housekeeping issues, signing long snapper Jon Dorenbos to a 4-year contract and special-teams ace Colt Anderson to a 1-year deal.

Maybe Tuesday will bring more exciting news.

Dorenbos would have become an unrestricted free agent Tuesday at 4 p.m., and Anderson would have been a restricted free agent. They are the only impending free agents the Birds are expected to retain.

Tackle King Dunlap, linebacker Akeem Jordan, defensive tackle Derek Landri, defensive end Darryl Tapp, guard Jake Scott and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman called Dorenbos and Anderson "two players who bring not only ability but a great amount of character to their respective positions."

Dorenbos, who turns 33 in July, has been with the team since 2006. Anderson, 27, came to the Eagles from the Vikings in 2010 and was the team's Ed Block Courage Award winner last year for his determined return from a torn ACL suffered late in the 2011 season.

Both said in a conference call with reporters that they were eager to return, despite the Eagles' 4-12 record last season and the uncertainty involving the transition to new coach Chip Kelly.

"It's a new energy," Dorenbos said. "New is good. New is a chance to prove ourselves again. I'm looking forward to, obviously, if you've watched the history Oregon had - I talked to some players that played for coach Kelly, and said that the energy and the culture's awesome, so whatever changes he implements, the team's going to buy into right away."

Anderson said he felt both the players and former coach Andy Reid "needed a new start . . . This is going to bring a whole new energy to the field."

Dorenbos has done a lot for the Eagles off the field, with charity appearances. "I've got a great relationship with the community, the team," he said. "I have the utmost respect for this entire organization, starting with Jeff Lurie and Christina."

Anderson got a chance to play at safety last season when that position proved to be a huge problem area; he was scrappy and tough, as he is on special teams, but at a generously listed 5-10, 194, Anderson seemed undersized and lacking in elite speed. Anderson indicated that the chance to play more at safety was not part of the contract discussions. The Eagles are expected to rebuild their secondary through free agency and the draft.

"I feel like I'm a blue-collar guy, like everybody from Philly. I feel like I can relate to all of 'em," Anderson said. "It was an easy decision to come back here for me."

Speaking of free agency, league sources indicate the Eagles definitely plan to sign a cornerback, and they have been mentioned prominently in speculation about safeties and defensive linemen. The top safeties on the market are probably Houston's Glover Quin and San Francisco's Dashon Goldson. Goldson has an obvious connection to Eagles player personnel vice president Tom Gamble, who left the 49ers last month.

However, the Eagles have given hints that they don't expect to pursue big-money free agents, despite more than $34 million in cap room, a figure that will grow by $11 million with Tuesday's expected, long-awaited release of corner Nnamdi Asomugha. A source close to the situation confirmed that there was a salary cap/accounting benefit to releasing Asomugha after the league year begins at 4 p.m., rather than, say, last week.

Miami corner Sean Smith is believed to be a target of the Eagles and several other teams. Ditto San Francisco defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois.

The Eagles denied a report on CSNPhilly.com that they were interested in signing wideout and returner Danny Amendola.

Almost heaven?

The Eagles confirmed a Pro Football Talk report that Eagles coach Chip Kelly, general manager Howie Roseman and team chairman Jeffrey Lurie, no less, journeyed to Morgantown, W.Va., Monday to kick the tires on Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith.

Smith is widely considered the best available QB option in an unexciting crop of 2013 prospects. Analysts including the NFL Network's Mike Mayock have said they don't have a first-round grade on any QBs this year, but that they expect Smith to be drafted somewhere in the second half of the first round, because of the importance of the position, and the scarcity of talent there.

It's hard to believe the Eagles would use their fourth overall pick on Smith, but it is less hard to believe they would consider drafting him if they were to trade back in the first round and pick up something of value for doing so, like an extra second-rounder. Or they could be intent on convincing a team thinking of drafting Smith that it might need to trade for the Eagles' pick to do so.

Meanwhile, Arizona quarterback Matt Scott arrived in town for a meeting with the Eagles, who only have five QBs under contract. Scott, the Wildcats' successor to Nick Foles, is believed to be a middle-round prospect.

On Twitter: @LesBowen