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.

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane scored three goals for his third career hat trick to lead the surging Chicago Blackhawks past the Arizona Coyotes 6-3 on Thursday night for their third straight win and eighth in nine games.

Kane has 23 goals to lead Chicago, which closed within three points behind first-place Minnesota in the Central Division and Western Conference.

Rookies Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman each had a goal and assist. Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival scored his first goal of the season in his first game since Jan. 15.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews added two assists to extend his points scoring streak to five games and increase his output to 22 points in his past 13.

Jakob Chychrun, Ryan White and Radim Vrbata scored for the Coyotes. Chychrun and Vrbata each scored for the second straight game (see full recap).

Rangers outlast Maple Leafs in shootout
TORONTO -- Mika Zibanejad scored the shootout winner and the New York Rangers continued a strong February with a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves and J.T. Miller scored the game-tying goal in the third period for the Rangers, who improved to 8-1-1 this month.

New York moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division with 80 points.

Connor Brown scored for Toronto, which fell to 1-7 in shootouts this season. Frederik Andersen had a stellar performance in defeat with 37 saves.

The Leafs hold the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division (68 points), two points back of Ottawa (70) and four back of Montreal (see full recap).

Islanders shut out Canadiens
MONTREAL -- Rookie Anthony Beauvillier scored in the first period, Thomas Greiss made 24 saves, and the New York Islanders beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 Thursday night.

Anders Lee scored in the second period and John Tavares added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal the Islanders' third straight win. New York has won the first two games on a crucial nine-game road swing and improved to 12-4-2 since interim coach Doug Weight replaced the fired Jack Capuano.

Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson each had two assists, and Greiss got his third shutout of the season.

Carey Price finished with 21 saves as the Canadiens lost coach Claude Julien's 1,000th NHL game. Montreal is 1-2-0 since Julien replaced Michel Therrien last week and has totaled just 14 goals while going 2-7-1 in the last 10 games, including four shutouts (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Rockets crush Pelicans to spoil Cousins' debut

Best of NBA: Rockets crush Pelicans to spoil Cousins' debut

NEW ORLEANS -- The Boogie-and-Brow era in New Orleans is off to a highly inauspicious start.

The Pelicans' tandem of newly acquired All-Star DeMarcus Cousins and All-Star Game MVP Anthony Davis was no match for the surging Houston Rockets on Thursday night.

Reserve Lou Williams hit seven 3-pointers and scored 27 points in his Rockets debut, and Houston crushed New Orleans, 129-99.

Davis had 29 points, and Cousins finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds. But New Orleans turned the ball over 20 times couldn't keep pace with the firepower of the Rockets, who hit 20 3-pointers.

Eric Gordon scored 19 points and Ryan Anderson added 17 in both players' first game in New Orleans since leaving the Pelicans. James Harden had 13 points and 14 assists (see full recap).

LeBron triple-double powers Cavs past Knicks
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James recorded his 48th career triple-double and Kyrie Irving scored 23 points, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 119-104 victory over the New York Knicks, who hung on to superstar Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose at Thursday's trade deadline.

James scored 18 points and had 13 rebounds with 15 assists for his sixth triple-double of the season.

Anthony, the subject of trade rumors because of a strained relationship with Knicks President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson, scored 20 points, going 9 of 25 from the field.

Kyle Korver scored 20 points for Cleveland, which is 8-1 in February and has beaten New York 10 straight times.

Courtney Lee had 25 points for New York, which has lost six of seven and is 12th in the Eastern Conference playoff race (see full recap).

Pistons rally from 18 down to beat Hornets in OT
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 33 points, including three 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter during a pulsating Detroit rally, and the Pistons outlasted the Charlotte Hornets 114-108 in overtime Thursday night.

Caldwell-Pope scored Detroit's last 11 points of regulation, and his 3-pointer with 18.2 seconds to play tied the game at 100. Kemba Walker scored Charlotte's final nine points of the fourth, but the Pistons forced him to give up the ball on the last possession, and Marco Belinelli missed a 3-pointer that could have won it.

Detroit, which was behind by 18 in the third quarter, never trailed in the overtime. Caldwell-Pope's 3-pointer with 55 seconds remaining put the Pistons up 110-102.

Charlotte led 85-70 at the start of the fourth but missed 14 of its first 15 shots in the period, enabling Detroit to cut into the lead.

Walker scored 34 points. Tobias Harris had 25 for the Pistons (see full recap).