Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ah crap, not Trot

Middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter was released by the Eagles today in a surprise move. I understand the decision to axe him, but I can't bring myself to agree with it.

Trot didn't have a great season in 2006-07, and he'll be the first one to tell you that. The DTs in front of him were not effective absorbing blockers (one was traded away and replaced as a result) and the two LBs that played with him were ineffective (one was released, the other demoted.) Yet he never pointed the finger at anyone but himself. He personally shouldered the blame for every poor performance by the defense, and he rededicated himself in the offseason. He lost 20 pounds and accepted lesser playing time, both to preserve his ailing knees as long as possible.

Although his production has slipped, and he's no longer able to run like he once could, there's still a place for Trot on this team. He's a warrior and a true pro. He knows how to practice hard, how to study film, and how to prepare himself for a game. He's a fiery, emotional leader who never backs down from a big moment and is always accountable for his play. I know he was scheduled to make $3 million this season, which is too much to pay a part-time LB, but the Eagles are well under the cap and as far as I know, did not even approach Trot about a pay cut.

But I understand what the Eagles are thinking. Gaither has played very well and they want to get him on the field. But even more importantly, the other young guys on the team are playing well enough that even a backup roster spot for Trotter was becoming difficult to find. Tank Daniels, Stewart Bradley, and Matt McCoy are all playing well enough to make the team, along with starters Spikes, Gocong, and Gaither. So rather than cut a young guy with promise, who is already playing well, the Eagles decided to cut 54 now rather than keep him around for another year or two as his knees continued to decline.

While I understand that logic, the big problem I have with it is that the Eagles are a Superbowl contender. Teams that are looking to win a championship need strong veteran leadership. Trot's been there before and come up big when the Eagles needed him. Removing his presence from the heart of the defense, from the locker room, and from the practice field, is a real short-term loss that will need to be overcome. And for a team struggling to get back to the Superbowl, I'd rather have Trot on my side, than try to overcome his loss.

Thanks, Axeman. I'll miss cheering for you, as much or more than the team will miss playing beside you. You've been a great player, a class guy, and a true warrior on the field. You've been an example of personal strength and accountability in an era of athletes who rarely embody either. You've represented Philadelphia well with your pride, emotional fire, and blue-collar work ethic. Best of luck catching on with another team and finding the success you've earned.


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