Well the title to the story is Eagles sign 1 of 2 key players. Back-up safety and special teams captions Quintin Mikell signed a 4 year extension just a couple of days before the start of free agency. This is good news for Birds fans. While it weird to talk about having key defensive free agents after a definite down year for the Eagles defense, I whole-heartedly believe that Mikell is part of the solution.
[What the problem you ask: deadwood like Jerome McDougle and Dhani Jones sucking down roster spots and a defensive system that has to be a tad too complex if we can hardly EVER have ANY rookies able to contribute...Look other teams in the NFL get significant contributions from their draft picks, but for the Eagles it always seems to take a couple of seasons before we really know...]
But that is a different rant. This is the sentiment we all too little of from many players: "To me, more money doesn't necessarily mean more happiness. I've established myself here, I know the system, I know the coaches and they know me. I have a family here and a child on the way. It didn't make a whole lot of sense for me to make a move. I'm happy where I am, so why rock the boat?" Good on ya Quintin. Its nice to see a player realize that even at back-up money, they'll probably make more in a few years than most American will in their entire lives.
This isn't to say that I think players should throw thoughts of money to wind and accept whatever the Birds offer. That's just plain dumb. But I think for some players there is a right place, right time, right system that shouldn't be ignored.
But wait a minute...wasn't the title 1 of 2 key players? I bet you might think the other key player is WR Donte' Stallworth. Well if you do, you haven't been paying much attention. For the sportswriters/Eagles FO appear to believe that Donte's agent is going to nab him some ridiculous FA offer sheet and that the Birds will let him spread his wings. Moreover, the Eagles appear to be concentrating on ensuring DE Juqua Thomas (who's got a motor like Trent Cole, and played consistently well last year) doesn't fly the coop.
Again, looking past the oddity of thinking anyone on this defense (beside Dawkins) is "crucial," I have to say that keeping Juqua, if it happens, is a positive move. He was one of the few bright spots on an underachieving D-Line last year. Having him and Cole locked up for the next 4-5 years would provide the Birds the flexibility to continue their D-Line rotation AND perhaps shed an under-producing veteran (yeah I'm thinking about you Darren Howard) if they continue to disappoint after the 2007 season. It would also pave the way to shitcan the useless Jerome McWaste-of-time. Can we finally call it a career on that bust? Go and grab another DE in the draft (first day, second day, doesn't matter, if Juqua stays, its not a priority position for this year). Which bring to my final point about the Birds, if Juqua stays, then pending what the Eagles do about the WR position, we'll be a in a lot better position to gauge their potential draft strategies.