His role had diminished season after season as the Eagles revamped their wide receiver corps, and Reggie Brown knew it could be coming and maybe even hoped it would come. A trade. A chance to gain playing time. A fresh start elsewhere. The news that Brown was traded on Monday night to Tampa Bay for a conditional draft pick in 2011 was a good move for all parties.
For Brown , Tampa Bay represents a new proving ground for a player who was a second-round draft pick in 2005 and who caught 61 passes a couple of seasnos later. For the Bucs, who are looking to replace Antonio Bryant's production, Brown is a veteran who has had some success in the league and the Bucs are collecting candidates now for wide receiver.
And for the Eagles, the move brings a draft pick for 2011, reported by Tampa Bay's web site as a sixth-round selection, creates an opening on the wide receiver depth chart and moves a player who had fallen out of favor long ago.
If there was ever writing on the wall ...
The Eagles have turned over this wide receiver position in pretty great fashion the last couple of years, hitting it big in the draft with Jason Avant (2006), DeSean Jackson (2008) and Jeremy Maclin (2009). That is a really good front three for the position. Brown's playing time shrunk in a big way as those three developed so quickly.
No question the Eagles hoped Brown would develop after his rookie year, when he caught 43 passes for 571 yards. Most of his action came after Terrell Owens was suspended from the team, and in the final nine games of that season, Brown had 34 catches, 463 yards and 4 touchdowns, all best on the team. In 2006, in the midst of a season in which he started 15 games, Brown signd a contract extension that carried him through the 2014 season.
Brown and newly-acquired Kevin Curtis teamed up in 2007 to join Brian Westbrook with 60-plus catches and the Eagles were one of only three teams to have three players with as many receptions in the season. Westbrook had 90 in his career-best season, Curtis grabbed 77 passes and Brown had 61, with 4 touchdowns.
But it was an uneven performance from Brown, who was not involved much early in the season before coming on strong late in the year.
The next April, when the Eagles selected Jackson in the second round of the draft, Brown had competition for his starting job. A hamstring injury suffered in training camp and then a groin injury that came along in the season limited Brown to 10 games, 3 starts and 18 catches. Jackson, meanwhile, was a standout from the first game he played.
When the Eagles traded up to draft Maclin last spring, Brown moved back in the rotation. He was inactive the first two games of the season and caught just 9 passes for the year.
And now this.
So what happens with the Eagles. They need a fourth receiver, and they have been reportedly showing some interest in Hank Baskett. We'll see where that goes.
Brown has a chance to play in Tampa Bay and resurrect what became a disappointing level of opportunity and production in his final seasons here. The Eagles signed Brown, defensive end Trent Cole, Todd Herremans and Mike Patterson in a very brief period fo time in 2006, and only Brown didn't become a strong contributor over time.
Wide receivers are something we aren't talking much about these days, and that's a good thing. Avant had a great situation turn even better by signing a five-year contract on Monday, and Jackson and Maclin are the present and the future for a long time. We'll see where Curtis fits in, and if young players like Dobson Collins and Jordan Norwood can create a roster spot and maybe earn playing time.
Brown, long rumored to be a player the Eagles were interested in trading, is gone. Another move that leads to, what, exactly? We shall see as the Eagles move along in the 2010 off-season.