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News » Philadelphia Eagles Inside Slant 2009-02-27

Philadelphia Eagles Inside Slant 2009-02-27

Philadelphia Eagles Inside Slant 2009-02-27
The Eagles enter the free agency signing period with lots and lots of salary cap room. More than $35 million, according to most reports. But that doesn't necessarily mean they'll be a major player in free agency.

The Eagles don't seem all that excited about this year's crop of free agents. "I wish there were more (free agents) available," club president Joe Banner said.

While the Eagles made it to the NFC Championship Game for the fifth time in eight years last month, they are not without needs. Their two starting offensive tackles -- Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan -- are in their mid-thirties, and both are about to become free agents. They need a running back to rotate with Brian Westbrook, who will be 30 before the start of next season and has a chronically-ailing knee.

They need a tight end that can block. They need a fullback who can block. They could use more help at wide receiver. They need safety help. They could use another outside pass-rusher.

There seem to be players in this free agency class that could help fill some of those needs, such as Giants running back Derrick Ward, Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Bengals offensive tackle Stacy Andrews and Patriots fullback Heath Evans. But whether the Eagles pursue any of them remains to be seen.

They still have six of their own unsigned free agents-to-be: Thomas and Runyan, free safety Brian Dawkins, running back Correll Buckhalter, tight end L.J. Smith and safety Sean Considine.

They have no intention of re-signing Smith, who played poorly in '08 after being franchised last February. Considine is a special-teamer. and the 35-year-old Runyan is coming off microfracture surgery on his knee that probably doesn't bode well for his chances of re-signing with the Eagles, or possibly anyone else for that matter.

Buckhalter has been Westbrook's backup and has been productive when he's gotten the opportunity the last two years. But with Westbrook closing in on 30 and dealing with a chronically ailing knee, the Eagles need a younger backup who could touch the ball 150-175 times a season.

That leaves Thomas, their 34-year-old longtime left tackle, and the 35-year-old Dawkins. Dawkins seems to understand that his big-money days are behind him and would like to re-up with the Eagles and finish his career with them.

Thomas, though, may test the market. With the Carolina Panthers re-signing Jordan Gross, Thomas figures to be the top-rated left tackle in free agency. Despite his age, he is expected to draw a lot of interest.

"I would love for the Eagles to stop up to the plate and get (a new deal) done," Thomas said earlier in the week. "If not, I'm ready to move on. It's weird, but it's also exciting. I haven't been in this position for a long time. For 11 years, I've always known what would take place next year."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 27, 2009

Max Jean-Gilles Name: Max Jean-Gilles
Position: OG
Age: 24
Experience: 3 years
College: Georgia
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