Evaluating the Eagle's Offseason, Part I: Departures

Haran KnightCorrespondent IApril 30, 2009

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 30:  Brian Dawkins speaks about being named a finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award during a press conference prior to Super Bowl XLIII held at the Tampa Convention Center on January 30, 2009 in Tampa, Florida. Dawkins is one of three finalists for the award.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

After the NFL draft every year, fans and media alike like to evaluate the selections.  Whether it's their favorite team or the entire team, it's every sports fanatic's goal to assess their team's potential.

While I'm one of hundreds who have expressed their opinion about the Eagles highly successful draft, the climatic last weekend in April is far from the only part of the offseason(which begins after the last game).

Now that the offseason is unofficially coming to an end, I'd like to evaluate focus on the other segments that will help shape the roster that travels to Lehigh in late July.

Part I: Player Departures

One of the hardest things to do is say goodbye to those you've grown to love.  Unfortunately, the harsh business side of the NFL makes it a necessary evil.  How did the Eagles handle it this year?

Brian Dawkins, FS (Denver Broncos)

Nobody, I mean NOBODY wanted to see Dawkins go. Nobody will ever fully replace him either. But, all things eventually come to an end.  How Dawkins tenure ended was a problem to me. 

I'm not mad at Denver's offer, nor am I mad at Dawk for taking it.  I think the Pro Bowl free safety should've never made it to free agency to begin with. 

Grade: D-

The Eagles weren't prepared to lose Dawk, and the fans definitely didn't think his time in Philly would be done. They were lucky they signed Sean Jones, but who plays where in the secondary is the question. 

William "Tra" Thomas, LT(Jacksonville Jaguars)

I'm probably in the minority when it comes to Tra's departure.  I thought it was past his time to depart, and his back issues concerned me.  Therefore, it was time to move on at left tackle, as far as I'm concerned.  My problem with losing him was, like with Dawkins, there was no concrete back-up plan. 

I'm pretty sure everyone was pro-Jordan Gross, but so was the Carolina Panthers

Grade: B

This could've been an "F," but the trade for Pro Bowler Jason Peters was enough to make you say "Tra who?" 

Correll Buckhalter, HB (Denver Broncos)

Buck isn't going to find a starting role in Denver.  They signed two others and drafted Knowshon Moreno with the No. 12 pick!

Regardless of what the Broncos do, letting Buckhalter is one of the best moves the Eagles could've made.  Having two 30-something backs as the one-two punch of your running game is a recipe for failure.  I'm glad to see the Eagles depart from that philosophy.


This departure, along with the Broncos taking Moreno with the No. 12 pick, prompted the Eagles to draft Shady McCoy who is pretty the future of the Eagles ground game.

Jon Runyan, RT(unsigned)

I would've loved for Runyan to return for at least one more year.  His leadership and durability will be missed. Unfortunately, micro-fracture surgeries are difficult to recover from.  Especially for a 35-year-old playing a position that requires constant knee-bending. 

Grade: A

The Eagles couldn't afford to wait and see how Runyan rehabs.

L.J. Smith-TE (Baltimore Ravens)

How this guy was franchised for the 2008 season, I'll never know.  Smith is very athletic, but his football IQ is horrendous (so are his hands come to think of it...). 

Grade: A++

His departure actually came a year late.  In 2008, the Eagles' determination to start him was a business move because of the tag placed on him.  That actually got in the way of Brent Celek's progress more than anything else.  Glad we don't have to worry about that any more.

Sean Considine-SS (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Thought to be an improvement in coverage over Michael Lewis, Considine seemed to have never recovered from a shoulder injury a couple years ago. He ended up being replaced by Quinten Mikell and used mainly on special teams.

Grade: A

Special teamers are always replaceable, and Considine still considers himself a starter.  He'll get his chance as a Jaguar, while the Eagles move on wiith Mikell and Sean Jones.

Greg Lewis-WR (New England Patriots)

In my opinion, Lewis's role with the Eagles had as much an impact as mine.  Between the dropped passes, undefined routes and stupid penalties, Lewis was one of the biggest liabilities on the roster.  I'm so glad Bill Belichick saw a lot in him. 


I just wanted Greg Lewis gone! The fact that the birds got a fifth-round pick in return was a pleasant surprise.

Lito Sheppard-CB (New York Jets)

I loved Lito's game-changing ability (especially against the Cowboys).  It's a shame that his production was limited due to nagging injuries. After requesting a trade in 2008, he ended up behind Joselio Hanson (yes him!) on the depth chart. 

Grade: Incomplete

The Eagles should've traded him to the Saints last year for a second-round pick, but they declined.  They ended up getting a fifth rounder this year (used on TE Cornelius Ingram) from the Jets. 

His real value will be determined by his production in 2009.  That will determine the conditional 2010 pick also included in the trade.

Overall: B

The Eagles decided to move on and let go of five reserve players they ran out of use for, two ancient tackles, and an aging legend. Watching Dawkins press conference in Denver is still hard to digest, but his departure was going to happen sooner or later.

Next....Veteran Additions


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