When Leonard Weaver signed a one-year deal with Philadelphia a year ago, it was all about opportunity, a chance to prove himself.
He did that and more at a position that had largely been underused by the Eagles in recent seasons. And those opportunities figure to continue after the team re-signed Weaver to a three-year contract, a deal worth a reported $11-plus million which makes him the highest-paid fullback in NFL history.
"I think we both got to the point where we came to equal terms," Weaver said of the negotiations. "It was one of those things where I was adamant about being here and I was willing to do kind of whatever, in a sense, to be here. And things worked out perfectly.
"What happens now is people are going to expect more of you. I'm expecting more of myself this year and I'm preparing that same way."
Playing in a similar style offense as he did in Seattle, Weaver's versatility added another dimension to an offense overflowing with playmakers last season. When he wasn't opening holes for Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy, Weaver was pass-protecting for Donovan McNabb. But he also proved to be an effective weapon with the ball in his hands.
Weaver led all NFL fullbacks with career highs in rushing attempts (70) and yards (323), while adding a career-high four total touchdowns (two rushing, two receiving). Weaver shouldered part of the backfield load when Westbrook was sidelined by concussions. By season's end, his efforts earned him his first trip to the Pro Bowl.
"I really enjoyed (my role)," said Weaver, who thinks of himself more as a halfback. "I got the best of both worlds. I was able to play fullback and then run block as well. We had some key games that we won where Shady scored some touchdowns and I happened to be involved. Then, to be able to carry the ball as well and have Andy (Reid) trust me in that position, it was great. I definitely look forward to that opportunity again."
Of course, the opportunity to play for a contender and play alongside McNabb and Westbrook was part of the reason Weaver chose Philadelphia a year ago. Westbrook has since been released and McNabb's name remains a constant in the rumor mill.
Those situations aside, Weaver said he had his heart set on Philadelphia.
"This team is in the playoffs every single year. If they're not competing for an NFC Championship or a Super Bowl, they're in the first and second round every year, and that's something that is very important and dear to me because that means we're winning games. That means a lot.
"I truly believe that Donovan will be back. and if he isn't, life continues to go on. Whatever they decide to do with Donovan, I'm going to be okay with it. It was definitely something I thought about."
Weaver acknowledged that he and his agent fielded some calls from other teams, but he was confident a deal would get done with the Eagles' brass.
"The thing that I told my agent was, 'Philly is the place that I want to be. That's the bottom line,'" Weaver said. "Teams submitted their deals, but I wanted to wait on Philly. This is a place that I love.
"What better place could you play than Philadelphia, where the fans are all for you. They're going to tell you like it is."
Click here to watch Weaver's press conference.
-- Posted by Bob Kent, 5:42 p.m., March 5