Philadelphia Eagles News

Joining The NFC East "Dark Side"

"You don't know the power of the Dark Side," Darth Vader tells Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode VI- Return of the Jedi.

While Vader may be talking about the Force, the same concept applies to the NFL. Players often wish that they could play for the same team their entire career, but the NFL is a business and sometimes the best business decision is to change teams, sometimes within the same division. Whether it's due to familiarity with divisional teams, not wanting to relocate across the country or for some other reason, players often choose to stay within the division. The latest example, of course, is DeMarco Murray leaving Dallas and signing with the Eagles.

Yes, it can be very tough for fans to see their beloved players suited up in divisional rival threads, but it's something that everyone has to come to terms with at some point. A number of notable Eagles have either thrown passes in our Nation's Capital, caught passes in the heart of Texas or locked it down on defense in the Big Apple.

Here's a look at some Eagles who have been both Jedi Masters and Sith Lords, depending on how you look at it. Cue the music.

Two Playmakers In Different Places

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Two of the most explosive receivers in Eagles history went on to join divisional foes directly after their time in Philadelphia came to a close.

Terrell Owens dazzled in his first season in Philadelphia, catching 77 passes for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns before missing the final two games of the season with a broken ankle. He was the first big-name receiver that Donovan McNabb had at his disposal during his time in Philadelphia, and the play-making wideout famously came back and played in Super Bowl XXXIX despite his injury, catching nine passes for 122 yards.

After two seasons in Philadelphia, Owens joined the Dallas Cowboys, totaling 3,597 yards and 38 touchdowns. The Cowboys made the playoffs in two of his three seasons, but were one-and-done each year. Owens played two more seasons in the NFL with Buffalo and Cincinnati and currently ranks second all time in career receiving yards with 15,934.

DeSean Jackson might just be the fastest player in Eagles history. A second-round draft pick in 2008, Jackson became one of the top deep threats in the league with the Eagles, averaging 17.2 yards per reception during his six seasons with the Eagles. He was also a special teams standout, and will always be remembered for delivering one of the best holiday gifts a fan could ask for with his game-winning punt return in the second Miracle at the Meadowlands in 2010.

Jackson was released following the 2013 season and proceeded to sign with Washington. In his first season outside of Philadelphia, Jackson accumulated 1,169 receiving yards, averaging 20.9 yards per grab. In his first trip back to Philadelphia, he burned the Eagles for an 81-yard touchdown, but the Eagles ultimately went on to win the game 37-34.

Eagles QBs Head To DC

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Sonny Jurgensen was drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round of the 1957 NFL Draft. The former Duke Blue Devil started just four games during his four seasons, but he did appear in 12 games during the Eagles' 1960 Championship season.

He took over for Norm Van Brocklin as the team's starting quarterback in 1961, earning Pro Bowl honors as he led the Eagles to a 10-4 record. Jurgensen started at quarterback for three seasons in Philadelphia before he was traded to Washington for fellow signal-caller Norm Snead. Jurgensen played 11 seasons in D.C., and by the time his 18-year career was finished, he had built a Hall of Fame résumé.

The greatest quarterback in Eagles franchise history was also traded to Washington. Donovan McNabb's No. 5 now hangs in the Lincoln Financial Field rafters, commemorating his fantastically successful career in Philadelphia. The second-overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, McNabb and head coach Andy Reid together built the greatest stretch in Eagles' history, winning five division titles and appearing in five NFC Championship Games during the 2000s. McNabb holds just about every Eagles career passing record, including career passing yards (32,872), completions (2,801) and touchdowns (216).

Following the 2009 season, McNabb was traded to Washington in exchange for two draft picks, but his stay there proved to be short-lived. McNabb played just one year for Washington, registering the only season in his career in which he threw more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (14). McNabb ended his playing career with six starts for Minnesota, but he will always be remembered for his time in Midnight Green.

Two Franchise Greats Spend A Year Wearing The Star

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Harold Carmichael quickly ditched his seventh-rounder stigma and played his way to becoming the top Eagles wide receiver to ever don the wings. At 6-foot-8 Carmichael is the tallest man to ever play receiver in the NFL, and he used that size to his advantage, pulling in 589 catches for 8,985 yards, both Eagles records.

He was released after 13 seasons in Philadelphia, and he eventually found his way to the Dallas Cowboys. But Carmichael wasn't long for Dallas, appearing in just two games for the Cowboys during the 1984 season. Forever an Eagle, Carmichael can be found helping out on the Eagles' practice field and working off the field as the team's Fan Engagement Liaison.

Shortly after Carmichael's playing days ended, the Eagles selected Randall Cunningham in the second round of the 1985 NFL Draft. Cunningham's athleticism made him one of the biggest offensive threats in league history. In 11 seasons with the Eagles, Cunningham threw for 22,877 yards and added another 4,482 yards on the ground.

After a couple of injury-riddled seasons forced Cunningham to retire after the 1995 season, he joined the Vikings in 1997 after sitting out the 1996 season. In 2000, he was signed by Dallas to play as Troy Aikman's backup, but injuries led to Cunningham taking on the starting job. He started three games for the Cowboys, posting a 1-2 record.

Honorable Mention

Jeremiah Trotter – The Axe Man played his first four seasons in Philadelphia before signing with Washington in 2002, but after just two seasons there, Trotter flew back to the nest, spending four more seasons with the Eagles.

James Thrash – Thrash started his career in Washington but never really got his chance on offense. He came to the Eagles in 2001, playing the most successful three-year stretch of his career with 2,026 receiving yards. In 2004, Thrash rejoined Washington.

Mike Patterson – The Eagles' first-round pick in 2005, Patterson enjoyed a successful eight-year stay in Philadelphia, with his 98-yard fumble return touchdown in 2006 serving as his most memorable play. Following the 2012 season, Patterson signed with the New York Giants.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – "DRC" came to the Eagles with high expectations after being acquired in a trade with the Arizona Cardinals, but the man with the eccentric outfits and eye-popping cars never quite lived up to the billing. He was released after two seasons, and after one year in Denver, the cornerback signed a long-term deal with the Giants.

Emmanuel Acho – Acho spent 2013 Training Camp with the Eagles but was one of the last players to be cut before the final roster slim-down. He was signed to the Giants practice squad, but the Eagles signed him away in October of 2013, six days before the Eagles and Giants met for the first time that season.

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