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All may not be well in Eagle land


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Sunday, March 24, 2002<br /><br />Trotter and Staley could send message by not showing up <br /><br />By KEVIN CALLAHAN<br />Courier-Post Staff<br /><br />This should be an interesting week for the Eagles. That's because the official offseason conditioning program at the Eagles' practice facility starts Monday. And, although these training sessions aren't mandatory, the Eagles did enjoy full team participation last year.<br /><br />So, does that mean middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter and running back Duce Staley will return to Philadelphia and work out with their teammates like nothing happened since they last took off the Midnight Green after the NFC title game loss to the Rams two months ago?<br /><br />Or, do they choose not to show up to punctuate their discontent with the organization?<br /><br />If the latter happens, they would be certainly sending a message to management that they aren't going to just play ball as expected of them as players under contract.<br /><br />Trotter's agent said his client wanted to be traded after the Eagles placed a franchise tag on the two-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker. The tag insures Trotter will at least make $5.5 million this season, but it keeps him from being an unrestricted free agent.<br /><br />Trotter is upset because he wanted to test the free- agent market in hopes of securing a big signing bonus. But, it looks like he will have to settle for the $5.5 million from the Eagles or hold out for a long-term deal or trade.<br /><br />If Trotter indeed plans to hold out, he would send an early signal to the Eagles to start looking for the best deal by skipping the offseason workouts and, if necessary, the first minicamp at the end of next month.<br /><br />As for Staley, he is sore the Eagles were prepared to release him when they pursued free-agent Warrick Dunn, who has signed with Atlanta.<br /><br />Even before the Eagles went after Dunn, Staley was upset about his diminishing role in the offense last year, with the emergence of rookie Correll Buckhalter.<br /><br />Staley admitted his agent sent a letter to coach Andy Reid after several phone calls by Staley failed to reach his coach.<br /><br />Such communication breakdowns shouldn't be a problem now. Staley and Trotter can talk face to face with Reid this week if they choose to show up. If they don't show up, they will be communicating loudly - and clearly, too.<br /><br />This week should also be interesting since the NFL could release this season's schedule. Look for the Eagles to get at least two Monday Night games, and that isn't including a late-season game that could be moved to Monday.

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Personally, I don't see this as a crack in Philly at all. If anything, this worries me because Philly is going to lose two 'me first' players that take up serious cap room and free up even more cap room for the Eagles. <br /><br />With that additional cap room and FA prices dropping, the Eagles can make two cheap aquisitions (say, Robert Jones at MLB and Waters for a backup running back) to replace those two and still have money shore up spots that are weak on the starters front, like an offensive guard or wide receiver.<br /> <br /> <small>[ March 25, 2002, 09:31 AM: Message edited by: The Dark Horse ]</small>

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The last thing Duce Staley should do is makes waves because I dont see him being sought after that much when he is released unless its at the vet minimum and just like the QB class in 2k3 there are several running backs coming out that will make him an after thought.<br /><br />Trotter being Tagged was a smart move since the money is drying up and they already have a replacement for him there IMO.<br /><br />And no we don't need him

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Buckhalter showed enough to get a crack at the starting job. Philly's running game wasn't half-bad last season with Buckhalter and Staley platooning. Whether they were happy with that is another matter.<br /><br />What the Eagles need (and I pray they don't get) is a top-flight TE and another (better) WR. They would be tough to handle if McNabb another weapon or two.

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</font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif"> does anyone like the franchise tag? <br /> </font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Oh, I think it was a good idea. I think the plan was for it to be used on people like Elway, Marino, or Boselli: Players who ARE part of a team's identity. The plan was that it would allow teams to protect their star player from being stolen by rival teams. <br /><br />Unfortunately, what it's become is a gun that management points at players to try to force them to take cheaper deals. And pointing a gun at someone rarely improves employee morale. <br /><br />I hope the next CBA will address this somewhat. I even have some suggestions: <br /><br /> </font><ul type="square">[*]<font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">The tag cannot be applied to a player who has less than a year left on his contract. <br /> </font></li>[*]<font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Once applied, the tag stays till the player retires or is cut. <br /> </font></li>[*]<font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">The player may, voluntarily, take less money than the normal "tag" amount. (There may be restrictions on this, like "after wearing the tag for three years"). That way, players like Darrell can be labled, but don't have to be cut when thay're no longer starting. <br /> </font></li>[*]<font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Each team recieves more tags (two or three, total). <br /> </font></li>

<font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Face it, the tag was intended for players like Darrell, Aikman, and Emmitt. Not players like Sean Gilbert.

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"Watters as a backup? That still doesnt address who's going to be the starter. Then there's the WR issue."<br /><br />I guess you didn't pay much attention to Buckhalter last season. He is the reason Duce is expendable. Duce was great until his foot injury. But the foot injury was enough to take him from a blue chip player to just a run of the mill backup and Philly knows it. <br /><br />As far as WR, that is their shot. With the extra cap room the Eagles will have by letting those two (Staley and Trotter) part, they can afford to sign anyone on the market. <br /><br />At this point, Philly can sign any WR they want with all the free cap space they will have, and they are turning the likes of Chris Carter down now. I think Reid feels his young receiver corp will finally start paying dividends this season. Maybe against some other teams but not us. We'll eat their WR's for lunch. <br /><br />Heck, I'd say Philly is in better shape at WR than we are at this point, wouldn't you, Kilmer?

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No, I think we are better off. They dont have anyone that COULD be a number 1 WR. We have Gardner who isnt yet, but COULD be. Thrash, Pinkston, Mitchell and Brown will never be a number 1 WR. After that, both teams have a bunch of no. 2 or 3 WRs. The biggest difference is that ours (Anthony, Green, Doerring, McCants,Skaggs) fit into a scheme or system better than the WR's for the Eagles do.<br /><br />Buckhalter had under 600 yds rushing. If he was the heir apparent, why did they look at Dunn? They know they have a problem there. RB by committee doesnt work in the NFL. There are exceptions, but as a rule it doesnt.

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Staley is 29 and fading. He has had major injuries in 2 of the past 3 seasons.<br /><br />We ALL know from watching him in the playoffs last year that he is not the same player, so the Eagles are merely being prudent in looking for an alternative in the backfield.<br /><br />Whether he stays or goes is not going to break the Eagles at this point. I don't think he will ever again be a 1,200 yard back.<br /><br />As far as Trotter goes, he is a lot like Strahan. For some reason playing on a winning team and making good money isn't enough for him. He wants IT ALL and isn't going to compromise one bit.<br /><br />Where a guy like Reid is trying like Gibbs to build a team of hard workers and team first players Trotter is a guy you want to divest yourself of, but because he is very talented you don't want to let him get away for nothing. <img border="0" title="" alt="[smile]" src="smile.gif" /> <br /><br />My guess is Trotter's rights get traded at some point of the offseason.<br /><br />Who will step up and make the move is anyone's guess. Trotter is 26 and is one of the best middle linebackers in the NFC.<br /><br />But he is not worth $7 million a year.<br /><br />If the Eagles were to give him the contract he wants then the team's salary structure would be out of whack and they would perhaps lose other players such as Bobby Taylor and Hugh Douglas in the future.

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That's exactly why they were looking at Dunn (and others). They know they need a fulltime RB.<br /><br />Next year they have lots of contracts up or due for major raises that will need to be restructured. This is their year of opportunity. They have $$$$ and should be trying to win this year. Thankfully, they seem stuck in their normal cheap routine.

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Kilmer, I'd kill to be in the cap shape the Eagles are. Let's take a look.<br /><br />Hugh Douglas will get slightly almost a million more in 2003 than he will in 2002 ($4.1M to $5.0M).<br /><br />Brian Dawkins goes from $1.46M to $1.76M.<br /><br />Carlos Emmons gets a huge raise from $1.5M to $1.7M.<br /><br />Al Harris goes from $950,000 to $1.05M.<br /><br />Kalu goes from $1.15M to $1.45M.<br /><br />Runyan gets no raise at all. He'll still count $3.5M in 2003, same as 2002.<br /><br />Bobby Taylor goes from $3.5M to $4.1M.<br /><br />Tre Thomas goes from $1.4M to $2.7M. <br /><br />Troy Vincent goes from $3.1 to $4.4.<br /><br />Like Runyan, Thrash does not get a raise in 2003.<br /><br />That is their most expensive 11 players in regards to yearly salary. Between them all, the Eagles will spend $5.1M million more in 2003 than they will in 2002. <br /> <br />----------<br /><br />Now, let's look at the Redskins.<br /><br />In contrast, Big Daddy's salary goes from $650,000 in 2002 to $3.5M in 2003.<br /><br />Stephen Davis goes from $3M to $5M.<br /><br />Sam Shade goes from 650,000 to $1.5M<br /><br />People, that is already more than all those Eagles above. <br /><br />----------------<br /><br />Kilmer, try as you might, it is hard to argue that the Eagles have not managed their cap extremely well. At least in regards to the next two seasons.<br /> <br /> <small>[ March 25, 2002, 03:52 PM: Message edited by: The Dark Horse ]</small>

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that is one of the reasons I don't think you will see Sam Shade here on the Skins after June 1.<br /><br />the Skins have looked at 3 or 4 safeties and none of them have signed yet with other teams. <br /><br />so the options are still out there.<br /><br />Davis' contract will be restructed down so I don't think that is going to be a major problem.<br /><br />Ditto for Wilkinson.<br /><br />As long as these players are contributing at a high level, we can afford to keep pushing back their larger cap years.<br /><br />It is when guys get hurt or retire or need to be replaced that the sins of the past come back to bite you.<br /><br />Davis at 27 has I think a good shelf life left in the NFL and will probably not take the pounding under Spurrier that he did as a battering ram under Marty.<br /><br />That is going to prolong his career.<br /><br />If he gets 1,200 yards and 10 td's instead of 1,500 yards but has a lot less carries and hits, I am all for that.<br /><br />Marty's system was based on running a guy into the ground the way George Allen did with Larry Brown.<br /><br />That is penny wise and pound foolish. <img border="0" title="" alt="[smile]" src="smile.gif" />

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I think most "experts" would disagree about Mitchell. He couldnt beat out Thrash or Pinkston to start, that speaks volumes. It's one thing to have lots of cap space, it's another to use it to upgrade your team. They will need to spend some money to get a top WR and a top RB. That will eat up a ton of cap space. I was simply repeating what I had read on Philthy boards re: the cap in 2003. I stand corrected. However, as long as Lurie is controlling the pursestrings, I like the way things are going for them.

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I don't know if Freddie Mitchell is going to become a top receiver or not, I don't watch enough Eagles' games to have a feel for him.<br /><br />But, I DO know that it is not always smart to judge a wide receiver on his rookie season.<br /><br />Michael Irvin was ineffective his first 3 seasons in the NFL.<br /><br />How long did it take Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell to catch on and become pro bowlers in Jacksonville?<br /><br />Terrell Owens didn't catch 1,400 yards worth of passes his first year either.<br /><br />Mitchell was a rookie in a system without a clear #1. <br /><br />He is a raw talent that needs refinement. Thrash and Pinkston are in essence #2's waiting for the #1 to arrive.<br /><br />I also know in an offense where so much of what the team does is off the improvisation of Donovan McNabb it takes some receivers awhile to get used to that unstructured style of offense, where you need to read the quarterback and make a lot of adjustments on the run.<br /><br />Rookies have a hard enough time in a simple system like the one that Marty was trying to run here.<br /><br />Geez, it took 3 months to get everyone to line up correctly, not go offsides, and get the plays off before the 30 second clock wound down <img border="0" alt="[laugh]" title="" src="graemlins/laugh.gif" />

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well, they have paid other players such as Vincent and Hugh Douglas good money as well as Jon Runyan in free agency, so the Eagles are not as cheap as they perhaps were in the mid-1990's.<br /><br />but if you look at the Eagles receivers now and then compare their offensive philosophy to the one that Spurrier is bringing in, which to this point has meant collecting borderline NFL talents and putting them in potential prominent roles, who can say that depending on Freddie Mitchell, 23, and Todd Pinkston, 24, and James Thrash, 28 to form a solid trio is such a bad bet long-term?

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"Davis' contract will be restructed down so I don't think that is going to be a major problem."<br /><br />All teams can restructure. That wasn't where I was going with the topic. The thing about the Eagles is they don't need to restructure contracts because they did them right the first time. They seem pricy until you break them down and realize you can keep a player in your system like James Thrash for years and years without screwing with his contract or their future cap. <br /><br />I agree with Bulldog and his assesment of wide receivers. Some draftnicks did have Mitchell rated higher than Gardner. I think both are good. I'm really disagreeing with your Gardner is holier than all other rookie WR slant. Mitchell was drafted to be the #3 initially, BTW. <br /><br />"They will need to spend some money to get a top WR and a top RB. That will eat up a ton of cap space."<br /><br />First, the Eagles don't really need both a blue chip running back and a blue chip wide receiver as you are contending. They already won the division and a playoff game with subpar running backs and receivers (as you'd refer to them) - so logic dictates it won't take much more. <br /><br />"I was simply repeating what I had read on Philthy boards re: the cap in 2003. I stand corrected"<br /><br />Say that next time instead of speaking so 'matter of factly' about it when you post. It would have saved me all that time from digging the proof up at nflpa.org<br /> <br /> <small>[ March 25, 2002, 04:47 PM: Message edited by: The Dark Horse ]</small>

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They won the division when it was arguably it's worst ever. They beat an overrated Bucs team at home (that whole Bucs under 40 degrees thing) and did a great job beating the Bears.<br /><br />With a top RB and WR they would have walked over the Rams and,IMO, the SB.<br /><br />Also, that Website has alot of flaws. McNabb is listed with a salary of 250,000 in 2002 and 350,000 in 2003 and 400,000 in 2004. Below the league min for a 5 year vet. If they are only paying him that, then the league should look into it. It also doesnt include Signing Bonus allocation.<br /><br />Also, you cant keep a player in your system without paying them eventually. Trotter is getting paid 5.5 this year, but is threatening to hold out. That was the original point. If Trotter and Staley both holdout and they fail to get a top WR, they already lost Caver and Moore (and replaced them with lesser,cheaper talents) and their starting center, they are in serious trouble.

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"They won the division when it was arguably it's worst ever. They beat an overrated Bucs team at home (that whole Bucs under 40 degrees thing) and did a great job beating the Bears. With a top RB and WR they would have walked over the Rams and,IMO, the SB."<br /><br />Here we go with the excuses again. Weak division and a weak Bucs team. For Christ's sakes, they won two playoff games. Call a spade a spade already instead of flip flopping like a fish. First you say they barely this and that, then you say with two players they would have easily win the SB. <br /><br />"Also, that Website has alot of flaws. McNabb is listed with a salary of 250,000 in 2002 and 350,000 in 2003 and 400,000 in 2004. Below the league min for a 5 year vet. If they are only paying him that, then the league should look into it. It also doesnt include Signing Bonus allocation."<br /><br />Blah, blah, blah. Signing bonus proration is the same each year so it's completely irrelevant here. We were talking about salary rises from season to season (you had said 'Next year they have lots of contracts up or due for major raises that will need to be restructured'). Those figures were from nflpa.org, BTW, which you know is the NFL Players Association. Have a look at Lavar and Samuels salaries while you are there. Their contracts are structured just like McNabb's.

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They had a monster defense last year. IMO one of the top 3 EVER. Even though stats show they were weak against the run. That defense lost 2 key starters in Caver and Moore. And now their "leader" is pissed and threatening to hold out. Their offense blew and they have done nothing to improve it. So I stand by my statements, they WERE 2 players away, Now they are more than that and the window is closing.<br /><br />And those "excuses" you say? Was the NFCeast not a complete joke last year? And how many threads has this board seen about how over-rated the BUcs have been for years. I gave them due props for beating a good Bears team. (which BTW played with their backup QB thanks to a cheapshot, but thats a different argument). In the Championship game their offense blew opportunity after opportunity but their D kept it close. 1 big play WR or RB steps up and they bring home the hardware.<br /><br />And finally, how can they get away with paying a player less than league minimum? I'm sure other teams would like to do the same.

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