PHILADELPHIA – Brandon Graham called.
Fletcher Cox called more than once.
Then the closers stepped in – Nick Sirianni, Jonathan Gannon, and even position coach Tracy Rocker.
That full-court press is what helped deliver Ryan Kerrigan to the Eagles after Washington cast aside its all-time sack and QB hits leader last week.
It’s what kept him away from the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, two teams that went hard after him, per reports.
“I had a really great visit here,” said Kerrigan on Monday, a few days after signing a one-year free-agent deal with the Eagles that could pay him as much as $3.5 million.
“The energy in the building, it’s hard to put a finger on it. But the energy in the building was just so positive, so good. From Coach Sirianni to Coach Gannon, to Coach Rocker, you felt a good, positive sense of energy here. That was something that was really intriguing.
“And also talking through some film and talking ball with the coaching staff, I feel like they’re going to put us in positions to succeed defensively. So that was something I was excited about.”
Kerrigan also liked the connections that Sirianni is preaching with the team.
The new head coach wants players to connect with one another on and off the field, to build friendships that will lead to them playing as a team, and not a collection of individuals.
“The best teams I’ve been on in Washington we all really connected really well, and in the building and out of the building,” he said. “We hung out away from the field. We had really good chemistry within the locker room, and I know that’s what coach Sirianni is trying to build here because it definitely translates to performance on the field.”
The opportunity to line up with Graham and Cox helped as well.
Kerrigan said that he remembered Graham from their time together in the Big Ten Conference, with Graham at Michigan and Kerrigan at Purdue.
Graham was picked 13th overall by the Eagles in 2010.
Kerrigan went 16th overall to Washington in 2011.
“I’m really excited to play with those guys,” said Kerrigan. “Yes, they both were instrumental in getting me here to Philly. Brandon reached out, Fletcher reached out a couple of times.
"They both expressed they felt I could really help out the team here. That really meant a lot to me because I really respect those guys, respect their game. Brandon, him, and I go back to our Big Ten days when he was at Michigan, and I was at Purdue, so I’ve admired him for a long time. Fletcher Cox, he’s a really amazing three-technique and defensive tackle. I’m really excited to get to work with those guys.”
The thing about Cox, though, is he has ownership of the No. 91, the number Kerrigan wore for his years in Washington.
His Purdue number, No. 94, is being worn by Josh Sweat.
So, Kerrigan will wear No. 90.
“I knew 91 was off the table,” he said. “94 was the Purdue number, but Josh Sweat has earned that for sure, so 90 seemed like the best one. They got a couple of 90s retired as well so that took a couple off the board. That was my best option.”
What matters more than a number is on-field production.
Playing predominantly as an outside linebacker in Washington, Kerrigan can also play defensive end in a 4-3, which is presumably the scheme Gannon will have his defense play.
“My expectations are just that Coach Gannon knows ball,” he said. “He knows his personnel. I feel like he’s going to put in positions that are conducive for us to be successful.
"I am fortunate enough to have had a lot of experiences as a 3-4 backer. I’ve also had a lot of experience as a 4-3 defensive end, whether back in college or this past season in Washington.
“I feel like, no matter the role is, I feel like I’m going to feel comfortable doing it. When you’re on the line of scrimmage, you’re still doing most of the same things. It just might be in a different way.”
Kerrigan had 95.5 sacks and 147 quarterback hits in 10 seasons with the Football Team, more than anyone ever to wear that uniform.
In just 38 percent of the team’s snaps last year, he had 5.5 sacks as the team began transitioning away from him to young draft picks, Montez Sweat and Chase Young.
The takeaway sense from Kerrigan in his 10-12 minutes with the media on Monday is that he is excited about a new opportunity and particularly excited about the vibes given off by the Eagles head coach and DC.
“They’re positive dudes,” said Kerrigan. “You can tell the energy is not only be present in the meeting room but on the practice field as well and when you have that kind of energy going that really picks up the tempo a bit at practice and whatnot. It allows guys to really engage and focus.”
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.