Revisiting the Sheldon Brown Trade

Revisiting the Sheldon Brown Trade

When the Eagles' offense takes the field for the first time this season on Sunday, they'll be staring across at some familiar faces. Juqua Parker departed for Cleveland during free agency in March, joining Dimitri Patterson who exercised his rights one year earlier. Both are there to provide depth on a Browns defense that surprisingly finished second in the NFL against the pass in 2011. Their diminishing talents cast aside by the Birds' front office, neither Parker or Patterson are likely to engender much of a reaction from the Philadelphia fan base.

The same could not be said for Sheldon Brown, who arrived at this moribund franchise under far different circumstances. Once a fan favorite, his No. 24 jersey once among the shirts that would litter the parking lots and fill the seats inside the Linc, Brown was unceremoniously dumped off on Cleveland along with Chris Gocong in April of 2010. The return: fourth- and fifth-round picks, and some linebacker who made it through about a week's worth of training camp.

It was an unpopular trade to say the least, sending a borderline Pro-Bowl talent away for seemingly next to nothing, clearly weakening the roster at cornerback in the process. But as these types of deals often are, it was all about cold, hard cash.

The Eagles selected Brown in the second round of the '02 Draft, and upon becoming the starter two years later, he promptly signed a six-year extension in '04 that ran through 2012. It was a typical Joe Banner contract for that time period, done in the mold he became infamous for -- rewarding young players with long-term deals that had nice up-front bonuses, yet leaving them with all the risk down the line when the guaranteed money has dried up and multiple years still remain. Brown gritted through the dispute in '09, but by next season all his guarantees were gone, and he could be cut at any moment with no financial repercussions to the team.

The organization no longer saw Brown as a wise investment. At 31 years old, his best days were surely behind him, so handing over more money and a longer commitment was out of the question. His unhappiness with the club's stance was well-known however, and there likely was not a happy ending on the horizon had they forced him to play out another season. The Eagles had already begun the process of purging the roster of most of its highly-paid veterans over the past two offseasons. Sheldon was just next in line, followed days later by the earth-shattering Donovan news.

It would be fair to characterize the Brown move as one of the handful the franchise made around that time that did not work out so well for them. Both he and Gocong went on to become staples in Cleveland's defense -- though Gocong is currently on IR, and what that statement even means anyway on a team that can't win more than five games in a season, I'm not really sure. For whatever it's worth, Brown's play has remained reliable enough to hang on to a starting job despite his losing a step or two. Meanwhile, the Eagles went into 2010 with Ellis Hobbs at corner, then Patterson taking his place due to injury. Both were memorably torched.

The trade doesn't look a whole ton better once you see what those picks turned into. The fourth rounder was used on cornerback Trevard Lindley, who has been cut from the 53-man roster for the second year in a row. The fifth was sent to Detroit for veteran linebacker Ernie Sims, who spent one forgettable season with the Birds. They also leveraged a seventh rounder in '11 out of the Sims exchange, which as it turns out is the only remnant leftover from this apparent debacle in the form of Jamar Chaney.

Sheldon Brown and Chris Gocong for Alex Hall, Ernie Sims, Trevard Lindley, and Jamar Chaney.

Of course, merely grading from the haul and the immediate outcome ignores the bigger picture. Extending Sheldon Brown in '10 wasn't the solution either, and forcing a disgruntled player to work on what both sides knew was a bad contract would have been a mess. Although corner turned out to be a glaring hole for a year, it was also a season where expectations were already low to begin with. Parting with Brown when they did at least gave the Eagles the opportunity to get something of value in return, and more importantly, it gave them the freedom to eventually cut the deal for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and pursue Nnamdi Asomugha in free agency.

That may not come as much of a consolation to Brown's ardent supporters or plain ol' front office critics who will accurately point out the Eagles have received essentially nothing in return for a starting cornerback and linebacker. Brown is 33 and still balling. He's excellent in run support, and while he requires some safety help, No. 24 has held up in Cleveland.

But in some respects, this is not entirely different from the trade that sent Asante Samuel to Atlanta for a seventh round pick just this past offseason. While the deal itself did not produce much of value, it was a business decision where both sides ultimately got what they wanted: Brown a contract, the Eagles moving on so they could get younger and better at a key position.

Doug Pederson indicates Lane Johnson will start at RT when he returns

Doug Pederson indicates Lane Johnson will start at RT when he returns

Talk about too, little too late.
 
Lane Johnson is due back in two weeks, and Eagles head coach Doug Pederson on Wednesday for the first time seemed to indicate that he’s leaning toward getting Johnson back at right tackle as soon as he returns.
 
Johnson, the Eagles’ best offensive lineman the first month of the season, was suspended by the NFL for 10 games for a second positive test for a banned substance. By the time his appeal was heard and rejected, it was after the Eagles’ loss to the Lions.
 
Johnson hasn’t played since.

The Eagles face the Redskins at the Linc and Ravens in Baltimore the next two Sundays. Johnson is eligible to return to the NovaCare Complex the day after the Ravens' game, which would be Monday, Dec. 19.
 
The Eagles then face the Giants three days later on a Thursday night at the Linc and finish the season on Jan. 1 at home against the Cowboys in a game that will likely have no meaning for either team.
 
Previously, when asked about Johnson, Pederson was non-commital about playing him. But on Wednesday, he seemed to indicate he would move him back to right tackle for the Giants' game.
 
“Listen, he was a big part of our success early in the season,” Pederson said. “So I wouldn’t hesitate to put him back out there.”
 
The Eagles, 5-7 after a 3-0 start, are on the brink of playoff elimination and could well be eliminated by the time Johnson returns.
 
Rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai started the first six games after Johnson’s suspension before getting hurt. Left guard Allen Barbre started the last two, with Stefen Wisniewski moving into left guard.
 
Even though Pederson indicated Johnson would return to right tackle as soon as he gets back, he did qualify the statement.
 
“He comes back on a short week, too, against the Giants, in a couple weeks,” he said. “Got to see where Big V is at coming off an injury and see where that’s at. 
 
“We’re beginning the conversations right now. When he does return, we’ll have to see. We still have some games. Have to get through these two games.”         
 
Johnson, the fourth pick in the 2013 draft, started 44 of a possible 48 games his first three seasons, missing only four in 2014 during his first NFL suspension.
 
After the Lions game, he said he hoped the Eagles had meaningful games remaining when he got back.
 
The Eagles are 3-1 this year with Johnson and 2-6 without him. In his four NFL seasons, the Eagles are 27-22 when he plays.
 
“Stay in shape and hopefully the team is good enough to stay in playoff contention,” he said in the visiting locker room at Ford Field back on Oct. 9. 
 
“Come back and I’ll be fresh and we can make a run for it. That’s the best-case scenario. We’ll see what happens.”

Strippers used to ask Freddie Mitchell why Donovan McNabb hated him

Strippers used to ask Freddie Mitchell why Donovan McNabb hated him

Some rivalries are forever. Eagles-Cowboys. Wilt Chamberlain-Bill Russell. Michigan-Ohio State. Freddie Mitchell-Donovan McNabb.

The last one doesn't have the same juice as the others, but former Eagles wide receiver and legend in his own mind Freddie Mitchell can't seem to let go of his beef with Donovan McNabb. It seems like once or twice a year, Mitchell has to come around and rehash his feud with the greatest quarterback in Eagles franchise history, which is exactly what he did with Anthony Gargano on 97.5 FM The Fanatic on Wednesday.

It's nonsense, of course, but each time, the stories get more ridiculous than the last. This time, Mitchell talked about the lengths he would go to try to get McNabb to like him, including offering to watch the signal-caller's kids!

"The things that I would do for him to try to win him over... I would damn near try to babysit his kids," Mitchell said. "Stay in Friday nights and babysit his children so he could go out and have fun and come back home.

"Just throw me the ball, that's all I want. It was that bad where I didn't know what to do."

As always, it's difficult to tell when Mitchell is telling the truth, and indeed, he almost immediately started to walk back his babysitting statement before claiming the reason he lived in close proximity to McNabb in the first place was solely because he wanted to be tight with the guy.

If only the fans didn't prefer Freddie Mitchell to Donovan McNabb, the relationship between wide receiver and quarterback would've had a chance to blossom.

"It was kind of like, 'I'm serious,' but joke... You all go out and have your fun and let me babysit," Mitchell said. "I lived right down from Donovan at the time in Moorestown, New Jersey, and the reason why I moved so close to him was so I could have that relationship with my quarterback.

"I did all the things that it took to establish a great relationship, but the fact that the fans loved me more than they loved him, it pissed him off."

And how did Mitchell find out McNabb didn't like him?

Well, where do you think? From exotic dancers, of course.

"It's funny. I was sitting up in the strip club at Delilah's. I had strippers coming up to me and ask, 'Why does he hate you?'

"I'm like, damn. I'm trying to have me a nice gentleman's drink, and they say, 'Why does he hate you so much?' I'm like what, 'What are you talking about?' Everybody knew it but me, and that's what the problem was.

"When the strippers know there's a problem, it's time to move on to different things."

Yes, that's why Mitchell moved on from the Eagles after four seasons and was out of the league a year later. Not because he only had 90 catches and couldn't get open. Not because Mitchell was a brash punk who to this day still tried to take credit for everything from the idea behind the play call to the full execution of 4th-and-26. It was simply because McNabb didn't like him.

That's what Mitchell thinks anyway, which is why he'll never pass up an opportunity to take a jab at McNabb, no matter how low he has to go. When Mitchell was serving time in prison for tax fraud, and McNabb got in trouble with the law with his DUIs, all he could think to do was attempt to drag the quarterback down with him.

“Tell him we got a cot in here for him.”