Leonard Weaver just seems like the right fit for Philadelphia, for the Eagles offense. Named a first-team All-Pro player by a panel of 50 sportswriters and broadcasters, Weaver is a story of a player who found the right team at the right time in his career. An unrestricted free agent last year, Weaver signed with the Eagles three weeks into that part of the off-season after tepid interest from the rest of the league.
The Eagles were a team with a gaping hole at the fullback position. Not since Jon Ritchie played the position had the Eagles really, truly been solid there. Ritchie was a tough guy, a hard-nosed lead blocker and a sure-handed receiver in short-yardage situations. Ultimately, he could take only so much of running into walls, and his body said "no more" to the NFL game.
Since then, since 2006, really, the Eagles were in experimental mode at fullback. Thomas Tapeh played there, Josh Parry gave it a go and then Dan Klecko and Tony Hunt attempted to make the transition to the bloodiest position of them all without much success.
By signing Weaver as they did in free agency, the Eagles got it right. Weaver offers the kind of toughness and athletic ability needed from the position. He isn't as much bulldozer as he is tactician blocking. Weaver gets the job done as a lead blocker in the running game by taking the right tackles and using his hands and feet well.
What we learned about Weaver -- we had heard about it before, but since he wasn't an Eagle, we didn't see it every week -- was his ability to help the offense with the football in his hands. Weaver became, at times, the go-to back in the offense. He wasn't just a short-yardage plow horse. With nimble feet and decent speed, Weaver is the first real threat at fullback for the Eagles since Kevin Turner way back in the Ray Rhodes days.
Anyway, Weaver turned out to be a great signing. He deserves all of the recognition that has come his way, and he will probably enjoy the Pro Bowl experience in a few weeks more than just about any player there.
After that, of course, comes the sticky part. The Collective Bargaining Agreement is due to expire in March, and there is a very real chance that on March 5 free agency will begin and Weaver will be a restricted free agent. Whether that means he stays with the Eagles or goes elsewhere, we don't know. It seems like a perfect match, Weaver and the Eagles. But as we have learned over the years, perfect matches don't always stay together.
Here is to hoping that Weaver stays for a long, long time. He is a good football player who provided a valuable service to the offense. Weaver, in turn, had his number called plenty. It was one of those rare win-win situations in free agency, and the marriage makes all kind of sense to stay together beyond the 2009 campaign.
*NEWS, NOTES AND SOME OF THIS AND THAT *
- The five Eagles named to the All-Pro Team by The Associated Press marks the most the Eagles have had named to the team since six players were honored in 2002. Weaver was the only first-team member and DeSean Jackson (return man), Trent Cole (defensive end), Asante Samuel (cornerback) and David Akers (placekicker) were also honored.
- Tom Heckert is in Cleveland and has reportedly cleared out the personnel department there. What we don't know is the fallout in the personnel department here with Heckert leaving. Still nothing to report on the Eagles replacing Heckert for the General Manager position.
- My picks for the weekend, if you care: New Orleans over Arizona, Minnesota over Dallas, San Diego over the Jets and Indy over Baltimore. Yeah, I like the home teams and I like the bye weeks. I said it all of last year, hoping the Eagles would start the season off strong and keep it going: Having a bye week is so, so critical.
- What is my number one need for this football team, as we have talking about on the Discussion Boards for the last several days? Gotta be a pass-rushing standout for the defensive line. Then again, I think every team in the league would like another one of those players. The Eagles really need to add another threat, because when Trent Cole is taken out of a game, the Eagles have not consistently had others step up.