Brian Dawkins Officially Signs with Denver

Jeff DanzigerCorrespondent IFebruary 28, 2009

Brian Dawkins has played 13 seasons in midnight green, but that will be it. Dawkins signed a contract with the Denver Broncos for five years in a $17 million deal, with incentives that can boost the deal to $27 million.

Brian Dawkins has been the heart and soul of the Eagles defense since he was drafted out of Clemson in the second round (31st pick) of the 1996 draft. Dawkins became a Philadelphia hero immediately with his big hit capability and the emotion and intensity he brought to the field.

Although loved by the fans and local media, questions about Dawkins age and playing ability were raised in the 2007 season. Dawkins looked slow-footed and couldn’t keep up with most of the receivers in the league. He also injured his neck, which caused him to miss six games, adding to the talk of whether or not he was still physically fit enough for the hard-hitting sport of football.

Dawkins erased all of those questions in the 2008 season.

Dawkins came out looking like a younger, faster version of himself. He was hitting hard and covering better than he had the previous year. With a lot to prove, he stood up to the challenges. The same old intensity remained, and he was hitting as hard as he used to.

In 2008, Dawkins put up Pro Bowl numbers, recording 75 tackles, three sacks, six forced fumbles, and an interception. The three sacks were more than he’d had since ’05 and the six forced fumbles were more than he'd had since 1999, as well as tied for the most in his career.

But Dawkins has always been more than just numbers in Philadelphia (although his stats are also appreciated). The emotion and intensity he brings to the field inspires fans and the players around him. “We count on him,” said Sheldon Brown in an clip on Dawkins' legacy in Philadelphia. “When he’s not out there, we miss a little heartbeat.”

The Eagles will be missing that heartbeat next season.

So, why didn't the Eagles front office lock him up to finish his career in Philly? Every Eagles fan will be asking that for years to come.