Philadelphia Eagles News

Teams Shedding Vets; Will Eagles Play Along?

The names, as usual, are intriguing. Jeremy Shockey. Tommie Harris. Clinton Portis. Teams are shedding veterans, big names and salaries in anticipation of the next phase of NFL's offseason, whatever that is. And there are teams like the Eagles, who are positioned well with room on the roster and in the world of the salary cap.

So are the Eagles going to jump in and add some of these oh, so recognizable names?

If history means anything, the answer is no. Not yet, anyway. And that is the right way to approach all of the players now hitting the streets. As team president Joe Banner predicated a couple of weeks ago when he met with beat reporters and newspaper columnists at the NovaCare Complex, there is going to be veteran talent available no matter form of free agency we see in the months ahead. It is going to be a buyer's market, so the best approach is to perform due diligence, weigh the options, keep your mind open to any move and proceed with confidence.

The players now available see themselves in an advantageous situation. They are unrestricted free agents, which allows them to negotiate with any team in the league. That generally creates good leverage for the player.

In these instances, though, the truth is that there may be no leverage. Shockey, for example, has reportedly drawn interest from Miami and from Carolina. There isn't exactly a bidding war for a good tight end who plays with a lot of fire and who is a physical blocker and good receiving threat. But why would a team rush out to sign Shockey, who, I'm sure, still sees himself as a starting player who is going to get one more big payday?

The smart play is to wait it out here. Teams desperately in need of a tight end -- and the Eagles are not one of those teams, clearly -- will have a chance to sign some veteran free agents later in the offseason. The draft is said to be thin on tight ends, but there could be one or two worth drafting early.

Why go out and throw big bucks at Shockey, who has had some injury concerns of late?

All of the players released in recent days are in the same scenario: They are talented veterans who could really help a team in some capacity. Tommie Harris, for example, was a dominating defensive tackle with the Bears prior to suffering a variety of injuries that limited him to six starts and 1 1.2 sacks last season. Can Harris still play at a high level? Safety Bob Sanders was once an All-Pro player with the Colts, but he has been worn down by injuries through the years. Linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer was a big contributor in Chicago's defense until he suffered a concussion in Week 1 last year. Clinton Portis? You know he was once a Pro Bowl running back who is now battered and looking for the fountain of youth.

It's true that the Eagles signed linebacker Rashad Jeanty, who suffered a broken leg and then underwent surgery on his ankle and who missed all of 2010 season. Why sign him? Why take that risk? It's because the Eagles tracked Jeanty for a full season, stayed in touch with him and his health situation and then brought him in for a workout and were impressed enough to sign him to a low-risk, one-year contract.

Jeanty figures to help the Eagles on special teams and, perhaps, on defense as a SAM linebacker. Signing Jeanty was well worth the effort, the dollars and the organizational investment, even if he doesn't make the team. The Eagles have a player who is hungry to get his career back on track, rather than to cash in on one more big season of paychecks.

Director of pro personnel Louis Riddick has a list of grades on every player in the league, and every player that he believes is NFL-worthy. If one of those players comes free, the Eagles will get involved. If they see a player who can help this football team, they will make every effort to bring him to Philadelphia.

But there is more to these veteran players than meets the name. If they are like the hundreds of players who have gone down this same road in the past, they are looking for starting jobs, big dollars and some kind of financial guarantee. That kind of situation is tough to find right now. And the best course of action is to sit tight, evaluate, and continue to look for ways to improve the roster both in the short term and in the long term of this offseason.

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