Saying goodbye to veterans has become somewhat of a common theme in recent years for Philadelphia Eagles fans. As one of the divisions most dominant teams this past decade, the Philly front office hasn’t been shy when it comes to showing some of their most admired players the door.
No player is immune to this treatment, even those once considered staples of the franchise. In fact, over the last two seasons, the Eagles lost three players whose names were endeared with Philadelphia like Geno’s and Rocky Balboa.
I am talking, of course, of safety Brian Dawkins, quarterback Donovan McNabb and running back Brian Westbrook. Feeling their prime had passed them, the Eagles brass never offered Dawkins another contract in 2009 and just one season later, released Westbrook and traded McNabb to Washington.
It’s no secret the Philadelphia Eagles' front office believes future success depends on how they develop their young guys. Despite sparking talks of a Super Bowl due largely in part to the reemergence of Michael Vick, this is still a young team, and judging by the way this offseason is shaping up, it’s about to get younger. Here are four veterans you won’t see in an Eagles uniform this season.
Akers was named to the pro bowl for the fifth time in 2010. An Eagle since 2000, Akers is one of two players left on the roster who played on the 2004 Super Bowl team. He’s also been one of the most consistent kickers in the last 10 years. However, his atrocious performance in the NFC Wild Card game against Green Bay left Eagles fans downright depressed.
The most glaring indicator that Akers time is up came in the draft when the Eagles selected kicker Alex Henery in the fourth round. Taking a kicker that early in the draft is very rare, so the Eagles must see something special in Henery. Expect him to be the new guy this season.
As the only player, other than Akers, who played on the 2004 Super Bowl team, Mikell’s days as an Eagle appear to be numbered. It’s been reported the Eagles are unlikely to sign Mikell, who indicated he wants to remain an Eagle. Mikell was undrafted in 2003 before signing with the Eagles, and later become a starter when he replaced an injured Sean Considine.
In 2007, Mikell has been one of the few leaders on the defensive side and losing him would create a serious void experience-wise. If Mikell leaves, it would likely mean second-year safeties Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman would get the start, which can’t bold well for an already inexperienced defense.
A former Australian football player, Rocca was the oldest rookie in NFL history when he signed on the Eagles at age 33. Despite his football pedigree, Rocca couldn’t get a handle on the NFL game during his first few years in Philadelphia, showing a tendency to shank kicks and ranked near the bottom in average punt yards.
Rocca finally showed a little consistency last season and jumped from below average to average on the grand scale of things. At 36, he’s not getting any better and will likely never improve much from what he was last season.
Drafted in 2006, Gaither has been in and out of the starting lineup throughout his career in Philadelphia.
He has been benched in favor of Jeremiah Trotter, Stewart Bradley and Akeem Jordan but always seems to creep back in the lineup. However, Gaither saw limited action this past season and could likely sign elsewhere if a possible starting position opens up on another team.