Eagles in contract talks with Dennis Dixon

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Eagles in contract talks with Dennis Dixon
February 5, 2013, 4:15 pm
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The Eagles have contacted Dennis Dixon and are in contract discussions with the Ravens’ practice squad quarterback who played for Chip Kelly at Oregon, according to league sources.

Although it’s known that Dixon would like to reunite with his former college offensive coordinator, it’s not clear when the two sides will come to an agreement and there is always a chance that both sides go separate ways.

The team isn’t commenting on any coach or player transactions but it’s believed that Kelly would bring in Dixon to compete for a job, not be handed the keys to the offense or be considered the frontrunner to start.

Per NFL rules pertaining to practice squad players, Dixon became a free agent immediately after the Super Bowl and can sign a futures contract for 2013 with any team even though free agency doesn’t begin until March.

Kelly, a first-time NFL coach, has said his Eagles offense won’t be a carbon copy of the high-octane, spread scheme he ran at Oregon, where he built the Ducks into an offensive juggernaut and national powerhouse.

The Eagles still have quarterbacks Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Trent Edwards under contract although Vick, who is slated to make about $16 million in 2013, could be cut before Wednesday night at no expense to the team.

Dixon’s advantage is that he ran Kelly’s offense in college and emerged as a Heisman front-runner in his senior season until tearing up his knee. Kelly was Oregon’s offensive coordinator at the time.

Dixon spent his first four NFL seasons with the Steelers, who picked him in the fifth round of the 2008 draft. He started just three games, going 2-1, and played in just four games but Pittsburgh let him walk after his rookie deal expired.

Dixon spent the 2012 season on Baltimore’s practice squad and will receive his second Super Bowl ring. He won his first with the Steelers in 2008, his rookie year. Dixon emulated 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick on the scout team as the Ravens prepared for the Super Bowl against San Francisco’s dynamic dual-threat quarterback.

Shortly after the Eagles hired Kelly on Jan. 16, Dixon applauded the coach’s jump from college to the professional level.

"I'm in awe right now," Dixon said, per The Baltimore Sun, after Kelly’s hiring became official. "I'm at a loss for words. I'm sure it was a business decision, a family decision, but it's really hard to leave the Ducks. I think he is ready for that next step.”

In Pittsburgh, Dixon completed just 59.3 percent of his passes, threw one touchdown and one interception while scrambling for 56 yards on 10 carries and rushing for a touchdown.

But before sustaining a torn anterior cruciate ligament as a senior at Oregon, Dixon had led the Ducks to an 8-1 record and No. 2 rank in the BCS standings. He had completed almost 68 percent of his passes, rushed for 583 yards and totaled 2,719 yards in 10 games and still won the Pac-10 Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year unanimously despite having his season truncated by injury.

Kelly is still evaluating his current roster and still assembling his coaching staff. He hasn’t yet hired a defensive coordinator and the team has yet to announce any of Kelly’s assistant hirings.

There are no indications that Dixon would be the lead candidate to be Kelly’s next starter but his presence would give the coach some depth at the game’s most important position and put someone on the roster who is familiar with Kelly’s offensive style and schemes.

At the Senior Bowl last month in Mobile, Ala., Kelly admitted that he hadn’t yet formulated an offensive blueprint for the NFL and wouldn’t be averse to keeping quarterbacks of various skill sets.

“You need to have people that have some versatility because your starting quarterback may be able to run your scheme and your backup quarterback may not,” he said. “You don’t just throw your hands up in the first quarter when [the starter] is out and say, ‘We’re in trouble now.’ You’ve got to be able to adapt. That’s what I think the fun part of coaching is -- being able to identify what your personnel can do and play to their strengths.”

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