In the end, after weeks of doing the negotiations dance, the Eagles and fullback Leonard Weaver agreed Friday on a one-year contract. Weaver became the fourth unrestricted free agent signed, and he arrives with intriguing possibilities at a position that has largely been underused by the Eagles in recent seasons.
Weaver's skills do not recall the image of a player who runs into a wall for 50 snaps every game. He is not a one-dimensional blocking sled. Instead, Weaver gives the Eagles more of an offensive threat at the position than they have probably had in the Andy Reid era. Weaver is the first "true" fullback since the days of Jon Ritchie, yet Weaver is known to be as much of a threat with the football in his hands as any fullback in the league.
In his last two seasons in Seattle, Weaver caught 59 passes and averaged 4.3 yards on his 63 rushing attempts. First Tony Hunt and then Dan Klecko combined for 12 receptions and Hunt's six carries were the extent of rushing attempts for the Eagles at the fullback position last season. The fullback, in fact, played between 20 and 25 percent of the snaps.
So it's an interesting move for the Eagles, to say the least. Weaver is a piece that, potentially, the Eagles haven't had at the fullback position in the years they have tried players like Cecil Martin, Ritchie, Josh Parry, Thomas Tapeh and then last year's combination of Hunt and Klecko. Weaver could be used in a multitude of ways, including short-yardage looks from a one-back set, and he has the requisite blocking skills to set up and help Donovan McNabb in pass protection.
Signing Weaver means that Klecko's days as a fullback are numbered. Andy Reid is in California preparing for the Annual Meetings and he will meet the media early next week. Surely, the Weaver deal will come up in the conversation. Klecko showed great improvement at fullback last season, but by adding Weaver the Eagles have more of a "true" fullback at the position. Klecko will make the move back to defensive tackle -- not easy if it means bulking back up to 280 pounds from the 245 or so pounds he played at last year.
There is also Kyle Eckel to consider. The young veteran will get a look at both halfback and at fullback, so he will add competition. The Eagles clearly want to add some depth in as many spots as they can before the April 25-26 draft.
From a fan's perspective, this has to be a popular move. Fans have been clamoring for Weaver since the start of free agency, and now, three weeks in, the Eagles got a deal done. Good move. A fine piece of icing in free agency, and after a week of quiet, something to really feel good about as the pool in free agency becomes so shallow.
The Eagles have themselves a true fullback. How much they play him, how they use him, that remains to be answered in the season to come. Signing Weaver, who had drawn interest from a number of teams, is a huge positive and it offers the idea that fullback will once again become a position to watch with this football team.