NFL Free Agency, Day 1: An Eagles Fan Contemplates Life without Brian Dawkins

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NFL Free Agency, Day 1: An Eagles Fan Contemplates Life without Brian Dawkins

 

With every year's free agency comes both good and bad for NFL teams. We, as Eagles' fans, have yet to see a hint of good, thus far this year.

 

All around, we have had to watch other teams in our division get stronger with the acquisition of big-name players.

 

The Giants re-signed Brandon Jacobs to a four-year deal. The Redskins have made a huge splash, acquiring the top defensive player available in Albert Haynesworth, while bringing in offensive lineman Derrick Dockery and re-signing cornerback DeAngelo Hall to a six-year deal.

 

And the Eagles?

 

Well, this is a team that has yet to open its fat checkbook. With supposedly $40 million in cap space, it might be a good move for the Eagles to try to sign some of their key players.

 

Nope.

 

Good bye, Brian Dawkins...

 

Good bye, Correll Buckhalter...

 

Good bye, Lito Sheppard...

 

No sign of life from the Eagles, who certainly haven't won over their fans over the past 24 hours. Reportedly letting Dawkins go to the Denver Broncos?

 

Our beloved seven-time, Pro Bowl safety Dawkins—the longest tenured athlete in Philly, the face of our dominating defense, and the man we call Weapon X will never don an Eagles uniform again.

 

He'll never get to live out his dream of winning a Super Bowl in Philadelphia, joining the likes of Randall Cunningham, Scott Rolen, Allen Iverson, Charles Barkley, and Eric Lindros, as athletes who couldn't quite lead us to that title while in Philly.

 

At 35 years old, Dawkins probably doesn't have too many years left. He's lost a step and his better days are certainly behind him. Or are they?

 

Dawkins played like a man possessed this season, leading one of the best defensive units we've ever seen in Philadelphia to the NFC Championship Game. He earned his seventh Pro Bowl selection and became the 10th career member of the 20-sack, 20-interception club.

 

In the process, he most likely established himself as the most popular athlete—in Philadelphia Eagles history? Dare I say the history of Philadelphia? There is no one, NO ONE, who can get the crowd pumped up like B-Dawk.

 

With all due respect to Trotter's axe chop, Dawkins' signature dance in pregame has become legendary in Philly.

 

I can't imagine Dawkins on another team... pumping up the crowd in Mile High Stadium... high fiving teammates D.J. Williams and Boss Bailey... picking off passes alongside All-Pro Champ Bailey.

 

The irony of it is that the Eagles actually play Denver next season. As an AFC team, these two teams only play once every four years, but they will meet again in 2009—in Philly.

 

Imagine Dawkins putting a big hit on Donovan McNabb. How will the crowd react? It just doesn't seem right to me.

 

Part of me wonders why Dawkins would have agreed to leave the Eagles. Yet another part of me wonders, if he was even offered a contract at all.

 

Under Andy Reid, the Eagles have a history of not bringing back starters over 30 years old.

 

Dawkins is 35—five years past his prime. Maybe, we're lucky that we got 13 years out of this future Hall of Famer. All we have at this point are our memories of No. 20.

 

Joining Dawkins in Denver will be Correll Buckhalter, a fan favorite in Philly who had been the longest-tenured one-team backup running back in the NFL.

 

Drafted in '01, Buckhalter had never been a starter, but had always filled in admirably when called upon to give Pro Bowler Brian Westbrook a breather.

 

A tough, bruising runner, Buckhalter is also a better pass catcher than people realize, and his presence will be missed in the backfield.

 

Other players to leave the Eagles include former All-Pro corner Lito Sheppard to the Jets, backup strong safety Sean Considine to the Jaguars, and tight end L.J. Smith to the Falcons.

 

Sheppard's role had been reduced to a dime back by the end of the season, so it's a wonder that the team was able to get a fifth round draft pick in exchange for him.

 

Considine was a valuable special teamer although a questionable strong safety, and getting rid of L.J. was actually a blessing to the Eagles.

 

All in all, the first 24 hours of free agency have been anything but productive for the Eagles.

 

Players are going quickly, and if the team hopes to sign T.J. Houshmandzadeh or Antonio Bryant, it better move soon. Time's a-wasting...

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