There is a Dickensian element to Jason Babin’s decision to return to Philadelphia.
Some of the worst of times of his career came in 2009, his only season with the Eagles. He had just 20 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 12 appearances — numbers that led some to question whether his career was over.
Then came the best of times, last fall with the Tennessee Titans, who signed him to a one-year deal at a bargain rate. Under line coach Jim Washburn, the former Houston Texans first-round draft pick flourished with a team and career-high 12.5 sacks (sixth in the NFL) along with a career-high 93 tackles and the first Pro Bowl invitation of his career.
Thursday morning it became known that Babin, a free agent, agreed to a five-year deal with Philadelphia, which hired Washburn as its defensive line coach back in January.
“[Washburn] was a big part of the process,” Babin told The Associated Press. “What he did for me was two-fold. He believed in me and gave me an opportunity to play and he allowed me to play the way I wanted. He saw the potential in me.”
The move will not be official until at least Friday afternoon, when free agents officially are allowed to sign with new teams.
The ranks of the defensive line thinned further Thursday afternoon, though, when veteran tackle Tony Brown was one of six players waived. Brown played 59 games for the Titans over the past five years but battled injuries through most of 2010.
"His body just hasn’t allowed him to play like he has in the past despite his best efforts," general manager Mike Reinfeldt said in a statement.
Tennessee’s new defensive coordinator Jerry Gray has made it known that he would like to add size to the Titans’ defensive front. Babin, at 6-foot-3, 267 pounds, was a perfect fit for the attacking approach taught by Washburn but did not necessarily fit with Gray’s apparent preference.
Babin’s departure means someone different will lead the team in sacks this fall and that unusual inconsistency in that regard will continue.
He was the fourth player in as many years to lead the Titans in sacks. Kyle Vanden Bosch did so in 2007 with 12 followed by Albert Haynesworth in 2008 (8.5) and Jacob Ford in 2009 (5.5).
The last time the franchise had different leaders in that category five straight seasons was 1991 through 1995, a run that included such notable players as William Fuller, Ray Childress and Sean Jones and — coincidentally — included Gray’s one season as a player with the then-Houston Oilers (1992).
“This is my last contract and I wanted to go to a team with a high-powered offense,” Babin said. “With Mike Vick, [LeSean] 'Shady' McCoy, DeSean Jackson and the receiving corps, we're going to score a lot of points and that means we get to rush the passer.”
It’s what he does best.