Coming home: Past success stories of Eagles returning to Philadelphia

The second time around, they say, can be a great thing. DeSean Jackson, released by the Eagles following the 2013 season, is back with the team after being acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay, announced on Wednesday. Jackson had great success in his six-year stint in Philadelphia from the time he was a second-round draft pick in 2008, catching 356 passes for 6,117 yards and 32 touchdowns, plus another four touchdowns on punt returns.

Five years later, he’s back, and the Eagles hope he follows the “second-time-around” success that has happened with players in the past. Here is a list, in no particular order, of some players who were Eagles, ex-Eagles, and then Eagles again who came back and made positive contributions to the team.

Nick Foles, QB

He tops the list. Has to. Traded after the 2014 season, Nick Foles returned prior to the 2017 campaign as a No. 2 quarterback to Carson Wentz. Nobody expected Foles to play. It was Wentz, all the way. But when Wentz was injured in December of that season, Foles stepped in and, as you might have heard, led the Eagles to a win in Super Bowl LII, was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, and became a hero for Eagles fans. Foles then started five games in the 2018 regular season, winning four of them, and went 1-1 in the postseason. Good luck in Jacksonville.

Jeremiah Trotter, LB

After playing with the Eagles from 1998 through 2001, Jeremiah Trotter left once, returned (from 2004-06), left again, and then returned a second time, for the 2009 season. The Eagles certainly missed Trotter during some prime seasons in 2002 and 2003, but he was on the field for the Super Bowl in that 2004 campaign and was still a Pro Bowl linebacker. It all came to an ending that made everyone smile, as Trotter was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 2016.

Chad Lewis, TE

An undrafted player from Brigham Young University, Chad Lewis made the Eagles' roster in 1997, stayed until midway through the 1999 season, and then played six games in the regular season for the St. Louis Rams (one reception), who went on to win the Super Bowl that season. Lewis returned to the Eagles in 2000 and caught 69 passes for 735 yards, earning the first of three Pro Bowl nods. Lewis suffered a Lis Franc foot injury in the 2004 NFC Championship Game, during which he caught two touchdown passes, and ended his NFL career with Philadelphia in 2005.

Sean Landeta, P

This one is a bit of a stretch, but … Sean Landeta, one of the NFL’s great punters, was terrific for the Eagles from 1999 through 2002 and then he signed with St. Louis, where he played for two seasons. Landeta returned to the Eagles for five games in the 2005 season and averaged 43.6 gross yards per punt, his highest average since the 1996 season when Landeta played with Tampa Bay. Landeta ended his 21-year NFL career after that 2005 campaign.

Jason Babin, DE

A controversial pick, maybe, but the numbers don’t lie. Defensive end Jason Babin played with the Eagles in 2009 and recorded 2.5 quarterback sacks. He left the Eagles and played in Tennessee in 2010 and had a huge year with 12.5 sacks and then returned to Philadelphia playing as a Wide 9 defensive end and had a Pro Bowl season with 18 quarterbacks takedowns. Babin’s output dipped to 5.5 sacks in 2012 and he was off to Jacksonville the following season.

Hugh Douglas, DE

Acquired in a trade in 1998, Hugh Douglas had great seasons through 2002, making the Pro Bowl three times and once earning All-Pro recognition. Douglas left to sign with Jacksonville in free agency. He played just one season there and then returned to Philadelphia for the 2004 Super Bowl run. Douglas contributed three quarterback sacks in 16 games and was a strong locker room presence for the NFC Champions.

Kenjon Barner, RB/KR

A role player, Kenjon Barner played with the Eagles in 2015-16 before signing with the Chargers. He didn’t make it to the regular season with the Chargers and, after being on the streets for a few weeks, he signed on again with the Eagles to replace the injured Darren Sproles in September 2017. Barner had his moments as a return man and a running back in the Super Bowl LII season and certainly had a positive contribution to the championship.

A.J. Feeley, QB

Interesting debate as to whether he should be on this list, but he is. A.J. Feeley played with the Eagles from 2001 through 2003 and guided the Eagles' offense down the stretch in 2002 after injuries to Donovan McNabb and Koy Detmer to help the Eagles secure the No. 1 seed in the 2002 postseason. The Eagles traded Feeley to Miami following the 2003 season and he played with the Dolphins until he was traded to San Diego in 2005. Feeley returned to the Eagles in 2006 and had some bright moments through the 2008 season. He was released in September 2009 when the Eagles signed Michael Vick.

Bryan Braman, special teams

Bryan Braman had one job, be a disruptor on special teams, and he did it well for the Eagles from 2014-16. He then signed with New Orleans prior to the 2017 season, was placed on Injured Reserve in September of that season, and then was released one week later. The Eagles signed Braman for special teams in December of that year and he contributed down the stretch and in the postseason, including a big play late in Super Bowl LII.

Jordan Matthews, WR

A highly productive player in his first three years with the Eagles, Jordan Matthews was traded to Buffalo prior to the 2017 season as the Eagles acquired cornerback Ronald Darby. Matthews spent a rough season with the Bills before signing with the Patriots last April. Matthews suffered a hamstring injury and was waived by New England before the ’18 season. The Eagles, needy at wide receiver early in 2018, signed Matthews and he delivered 20 receptions for 300 yards and two touchdowns. Matthews added a 37-yard touchdown reception in the playoff loss at New Orleans. He is now an unrestricted free agent.

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