In what is becoming an annual off season event for the Eagles, another play reported to the mini-camp yesterday unhappy with his current contract.
Like Brian Westbrook two years ago, and Lito Sheppard just last year, the Eagles find themselves once again deciding what to do with an important part of their team.
This year its Sheldon Brown, the Eagles most consistent corner over the last several years. After watching money thrown the way of Asante Samuel and Juselio Hanson, Brown finally spoke out about his displeasure with his contract status.
Last week, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Phil Sheridan wrote a piece advising the Eagles to get rid of Brown as quick as possible, even resorting to cutting him if they have to. While I respect Sheridan, I could not disagree more with that stance.
First of all, the idea of cutting Brown is crazy. You do not release a Pro-Bowl caliber cornerback, who is not in his prime, but not that far past it. Brown only gave up 1 touchdown pass last year, and that was to Larry Fitzgerald in the playoffs. If your going to release cornerbacks off of that, then theirs going to a lot of corners looking for jobs when training camp rolls around.
Sheridan says that with the acquisition of Ellis Hobbs, the Eagles have a better, younger replacement. I find that hard to believe on a number of levels. First off all, if Hobbs is so good, then why did it only cost the Eagles 2 5th round draft choices to get him? The Eagles got only slightly less for Sheppard, and he didn't play at all last season.
The Eagles defense last season carried this team into the playoffs, with their secondary giving up the thirds fewest yards through the air and 12 fewer touchdown passes then the Patriots secondary. The Patriots secondary gave up more touchdown passes then anyone else in the league last year. While other things factor into that, when you look at those numbers, then put in the fact that the Patriots practically gave him away, it makes you think twice about releasing Brown and putting Hobbs in their.
Sheridan references the Sheppard situation last season as a main reason to let Brown go. He says Sheppard "poisoned the air in the locker room, quit on them, and took up a valuable roster spot." Obviously, Sheridan has more access to the Eagles then I do, but I didn't think that Sheppard poisoned the locker room at all. Sheppard had a bad year, no doubt about that. But if having a bad year means you poisoned the locker room, then Reno Mahe should be dragged out and beaten for letting off so many fumes in that room.
The truth is that the Sheppard situation is completely different then the Brown one. Sheppard was replaced. The Eagles decided Asante Samuel was better then Lito Sheppard. Sheppard had not choice but to ride the bench. Browns situation is different. You could argue that Brown had a better season then Samuel last year. There were many times Samuels was burned over and over by players like Devin Hester. There's a reason Brown was on Fitzgerald in the redzone last year. If Brown wants to, he will be the starting cornerback for the Eagles in week 1. Sheppard did not have that option.
Sheridan then compares Sheldon Brown to Terrell Owens. That is a stretch in almost everyway. Does anyone think Brown is going to start hitting team mates and doing sit ups in his drive way? No. Brown is the ultimate team player, having watched players like Brian Dawkins and Troy Vincent handle themselves like professionals. Brown is one of the leaders on that defense for a reason. Worst case scenario, Brown makes the ocassional, snotty comments after loses.
That brings up another reason why they should keep Brown. Loses. The Eagles will not being doing a lot of that this year. This team is good, really good. The defense and offense are both in the top of the league. They have a good young nucleus surrounding a veteran quarterback in Donovan McNabb. This team is going to win a lot this year. And we all know in sports, winning is the ultimate deodorant. It covers up anything. Do you think that after blowing out teams, and playing the whole game, Brown is going to be complaining out his contract? No. Winning even shut T.O. up. I think it can keep Brown quite. And the truth is, the Eagles have a better chance of winning with Brown on the roster.
That is why the Eagles need to hold on to Brown. Don't pay him. Don't do anything with him. Keep him on the roster, let him pretend to throw a fit, then start him on Sundays.
But don't, by any means, let him go. The Eagles have enough young players on this team already. Don't let another proven veteran walk out of the secondary.
It is in the interest of everybody involved- the Eagles, Brown and fans- that Brown stays.
No matter what Sheridan says.