In a move that was a surprise to many Eagles fans, the Philadelphia Eagles re-signed former four-time Pro Bowl Middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter (Drafted in ’98 from Stephen F. Austin in 3rd Rd) for the third time.
I guess in signing Trotter, the Eagles were saying that they needed the fiery nature of the tough outspoken linebacker in their low-key lockerroom. There is no doubt that the team feels like current middle linebackers Omar Gaither and Joe Mays do not fit the bill as a hole-plugging run stopper and that is Trotter’s best quality.
However, it will be interesting to see if Trotter, who barely played in 2007 for the Bucs and was working for WIP the last year has anything left. I remember viewing Trotter at training camp in 2007 and though he made a strong commitment to get in better shape after he was thoroughly outclassed in the NFC Divisional game versus the Saints, he just didn’t seem the same.
One player evaluator, who I respect, said to me on the training camp sidelines in ’07 that Trotter just didn’t have the wheels anymore. Trotter’s best season was in his first year as a starter in 1999 when he made the Pro Bowl and set a career high with 202 tackles.
Granted Trotter knows the Eagles scheme inside and out, plus he was coached by defensive coordinator Sean McDermott back when the young defensive coach worked with the linebackers in 2007. But after a couple knee surgeries and some time off no one knows if Trotter at age 32 can still produce.
I believe the move is a good one to try to infuse some life into a defense that was pushed around by the Saints in Week Two—allowed 48 points and over 400 yards in total offense—and will soon be facing the Giants.
Trotter is playing under a one-year deal and if things don’t work out they can jettison him as quickly as you can say, “Jeff Garcia.” The main thing the Eagles will need to guard against with Trotter on the field on first and second downs is in coverage—remember the 2006 divisional round playoff loss where Saints TE Billy Miller looked like Tony Gonzalez over the middle (4 catches for 64 yards).
The Eagles will have the bye week to get Trotter back up to speed and hopefully he will be in enough game shape to make a difference. But the Eagles need Trotter for the younger Birds to truly listen to them as it is hard to be a leader from the sidelines or a stadium luxury box.