Monday, March 26, 2007

The Eagles Have Themselves a New Strongside LB!

Wow, folks
The Eagles have kept on chugging this off-season. They struck again and shored up another key deficiency on the team, trading DT Darwin Walker and a conditional 7th round pick to the Buffalo Bills for LB Takeo Spikes and QB Kelly Holcomb.

Well, that alleviates the surplus of DTs on the team. Looks like Walker's superior numbers (he can really kick ass when he wants to) made him more attractive as trade-bait than the slightly larger plugger Rayburn.

What does this do for the Eagles LB Depth? Spikes instantly moves to the top of the chart at Strongside LB, and makes Dhani Jones' days in an Eagles uniform numbered. Count on it. No way they keep Jones with other younger, cheaper prospects like Gocong and Daniels ready to battle for back-up slots and playing time. I wouldn't be surprised to see him go in a draft day move, but he might had around until camp if there are no takers (and I would be surprised if there were, to be honest).

2005 Spikes had an Achilles tear....out of the year. 2006 was the comeback year, and while he was on the field, its the same as any other year-long injury, the next year is always a little tough (hmm, something to keep in mind as Donovan and Jevon come back from knee injuries).

He's 30, true, but 30 is not a complete death knell for players. Yes, Trotter is 30 as well, but he's shown clear signs of wearing down after injuries earlier in his career - not sure the same can be said for Spikes....He's been a very good LB in this league, and remember, he only signed for 2 more years....Any SB pro-ration he had left gets applied to the Bills' cap, and the Eagles become responsible for the base salary and any as-yet-unpaid incentives...(probably none, except for some ProBowl incentives). Since most base salaries are not guaranteed, if he doesn't perform, he gets cut next year w/little impact.

And what about the other player the Eagles acquired, QB Kelly Holcomb. The first question that came to mind was: why? PFT and others have speculated that its because the Eagles aren't sold on A.J. Feeley. While I can see how those thoughts would come to mind, I disagree with that analysis. We know what A.J. can do. Our offense and A.J. go together like peanut butter and jelly. He might've sucked in Miami, but the guy can sit all year, and they come in and perform in the Eagles system like he's been playing for months. Its uncanny, but I have no trepidation about A.J. holding down the fort for the Birds if Donovan needs to delay his start to the 2007 season by a few weeks or a month (now, half the season or more....that's a little dicey)....

So why Holcomb? Well, for one he's not an expensive option. Holcomb is inked through 2008, at $1.485 million and $1.535 million. Still that is more than you'd normally pay for #3 emergency QB (o.k. not that much more, but more). My impression of his inclusions points to two probably outcomes:
1) the Eagles are paying heed to an adage they ignored at their peril for years before 2006, you can never too many QBs. So, Holcomb becomes an #3 with starting experience, JUST IN CASE. Worst case scenario insurance. OR,
2) the Eagles realize that every draft, and then every July/Aug period seem to be filled with teams seeking back-up QB depth. Since the Birds already have one they're comfortable with, having another QB with starting experience on the roster opens up a variety of possible moves. Perhaps the Eagles feel they can deal Holcomb in the future (given his cap #, he's very affordable) for something greater than what they gave up (a conditional 7th round draft choice in 2008). *** Remember the Eagles secured the Seahawks' 2008 7th round choice in the Josh Parry trade last year - so its not like they're losing a pick. ***

Last but not least - Thank You Darwin Walker. You were a good player, and even if you frustrated a lot of us by flashing some incredible potential but never quite delivering it on a consistent basis, you still gave us some great work over the years.

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