Remember when the Eagles had that awesome secondary? the one that consisted of Brian Dawkins, Sheldon Brown, Lito Sheppard and Michael Lewis? Every one of those players a Pro Bowler and yet piece by piece the team’s front office has dismantled the hard-hitting, ball hawking quartet until they were no more.
Sheldon Brown, the last member of that group was traded to the Cleveland Browns today along with outside linebacker Chris Gocong. In return the Birds received linebacker Alex Hall and two draft picks in this month’s three day draft; A fourth round selection, 105 overall and a fifth-round pick, 137 overall. The Eagles now have 10 selections to work with in that draft.
Brown, who last off-season publicly voiced his dissatisfaction with his current contract, has played every game since the Eagles selected him in the second round of the 2002 draft.
Actually, Sheldon claims he hasn’t missed a game since sixth grade. Last season, he played through a hamstring injury in the Eagles’ victory in Chicago. In 2003, Brown played despite suffering from a sports hernia.
Browns departure, now opens the door for a training camp battle at his spot, a battle that more than likely will include Ellis Hobbs, Joselio Hanson and maybe recently signed Marlin Jackson, although Jackson is expected to compete for the starting free safety spot.
After selecting Chris Gocong, in the third round of the 2006 draft out of Cal Poly, the Eagles converted the former Division 1AA defensive end into a linebacker. The conversion process was not a complete bust, but it was not quite what the Birds were looking for.
The jury, meanwhile, is still out on the 6-foot-5, 250 pound Alex Hall, whom Cleveland selected in the seventh round of the 2008 draft. A backup in his first two seasons (he has two career starts); Hall will compete with Moise Fokou at strong-side linebacker.
So the purge of veteran players continues for Philadelphia, as Brown and Gocong now join a list of recently departed Eagles that includes former All-Pro running back Brian Westbrook, former All-Pro guard Shawn Andrews, linebacker Will Witherspoon, defensive end Darren Howard and wide receiver Kevin Curtis.
Interestingly enough, the most talked about trade rumors surrounding an Eagles veteran this off-season have centered on quarterback Donovan McNabb, who as off today, is still an Eagle.