Saturday, March 01, 2008

Eagles Strike Gold

The rare, day-one, free-agency splash by the Eagles was impressive. Both Andy Reid and Joe Banner said the team was going to add playmakers in the offseason, and that's just what Samuel is. Last year he picked off six passes, twelve the year before, and took four of those in for scores. For a team that was last in the NFL in both interceptions and defensive turnovers, Samuel is just what the doctor ordered.


Andy Reid wasted no time announcing that Samuel would be the starting left corner. That's where Lito Sheppard currently starts, with his two Pro Bowl appearances, history of injury problems, and reported unhappiness with his measly $5 million/year salary. This has fueled speculation that Sheppard will be traded.

I am making a plea: Don't trade Lito Sheppard. Move him to right corner, and let Sheldon Brown be the nickel guy. This sounds like a huge demotion for Sheldon Brown, but in actuality it's not. Currently, the nickel corner for the Eagles is on the field more often than the starting SLB. With the current NFL focus on passing and multiple WR sets, and considering how often Sheppard is injured anyway, Brown will see plenty of action. The Eagles have a history of keeping three good corners - both Al Harris and Rod Hood played the nickel at one point - and the Eagles had an excellent defense when they did. The trio of Samuel-Sheppard-Brown is by far the best trio in the league.

Additionally, they don't need trade bait. The Eagles have a dozen draft picks already, and there's no compelling reason for them to move up in the first round. The spot they currently have - 19 - gives them a shot at the best 4-3 DE on the board this year (both Long and Gholston are viewed more as 3-4 OLBs) without writing a ridiculous top-10 contract. As far as trading him for a player - there's no need, as the best players available by trade are no better than those on the free agent market.

Samuel was a great signing. But if we end up trading away Sheppard, it's only a tiny upgrade. Keeping all three corners gives the Eagles the #1 nickel and dime packages in the league.

One more starter in free agency. It looks like it will probably be Chris Clemons from the Raiders, whom the Eagles see as a Trent Cole clone. Another hard-working speed rusher who has produced (8 sacks last season) in less than a starting role. He's not a big name, so they should be able to sign him to a reasonable deal. Personally, I'd rather add a WR like Javon Walker or DJ Hackett, and then draft a DE. Rookie DEs can make an immediate impact, while rookie WRs are usually a waste. But Clemons should help, so I can't argue.

That was a great start, guys. Don't mess it up.


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