The Eagles released Jeremiah Trotter in 2007 after it was evident that his right knee would not allow him to be the linebacker who earned four trips to the Pro Bowl. Trotter played three games that season for Tampa Bay and was out of football in 2008. During that time off, Trotter had his knee cleaned out.
But when Stewart Bradley tore his ACL in August, the Eagles wanted Trotter to make sure he was ready. On Sept. 29, the Eagles brought back one of the most beloved players. And they didn't bring him "here to play special teams," as Trotter put it.
Trotter played in 13 games and started in seven of those. His role changed during the course of the season. When Omar Gaither suffered a season-ending foot injury, the Eagles acquired Will Witherspoon to play middle linebacker. The Eagles eventually moved Witherspoon to his natural weak side spot and tried Chris Gocong, Joe Mays and Akeem Jordan in the middle with Trotter.
Trotter finished with 40 total tackles. He proved that he can still be a downhill force in the run game. He registered seven tackles in the Week 17 loss at Dallas, but brought energy to the defense as he played the entire second half.
With the season now over, Trotter is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. The soon-to-be 33-year-old Trotter is adamant in his desire to continue his career.
"I still want to play. I think I answered everyone's questions about if I can't play, if I can't come back," Trotter said. "I'm going to get a good off-season under me training, actual hard off-season and get in great shape."
The Eagles' linebacker situation is a fluid one for 2010. Bradley, who was supposed to be the team's three-down middle linebacker, is expected to return from his knee injury. Gaither is getting healthy, but he will be a restricted free agent if there is no new CBA. Gocong is also scheduled to be a restricted free agent absent a new CBA. Nickel linebacker Tracy White is going to be an unrestricted free agent. Jordan is also going to be a restricted free agent.
Trotter doesn't know what's in store for the linebackers. He just knows that this team must improve if it's going to get back to the top of the division next season.
"Right now, we can't worry about (who will be back). We have to let things happen the way they happen," Trotter said. "Whoever is back next year, we have to get better."
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 4:16 p.m., January 13