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News » Philadelphia Eagles Inside Slant 2009-03-01

Philadelphia Eagles Inside Slant 2009-03-01

Philadelphia Eagles Inside Slant 2009-03-01
The Eagles entered the free agency signing period with more than $35 million, according to most reports. And while they brought in offensive lineman Stacy Andrews, it 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 free agents. Signing Andrews likely means the team will focus on Thomas and let Andrews start on the right side. 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, especially after letting Brian Dawkins walk. 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 and Patriots fullback Heath Evans. But whether the Eagles pursue any of them remains to be seen.

They had six of their own unsigned free agents: Thomas and Runyan, Dawkins, running back Correll Buckhalter, tight end L.J. Smith and safety Sean Considine. Dawkins (Denver), Buckhalter (Denver) and Considine (Jacksonville) signed elsewhere in the first few days of free agency.

They have no intention of re-signing Smith, who played poorly in '08 after being franchised last February. 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. He

may test the market. With the Carolina Panthers re-signing Jordan Gross, Thomas is 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: March 1, 2009

Hank Baskett Name: Hank Baskett
Position: WR
Age: 25
Experience: 3 years
College: New Mexico
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