Is It Time for Hank Baskett's Return To the Philadelphia Eagles' Nest?

Leo PizziniAnalyst IMarch 10, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 09:  Hank Baskett #84 of the Philadelphia Eagles catches a touchdown pass over Aaron Ross #31 of the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field on November 9, 2008 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

There were many differing opinions of Hank Baskett and his best-served role with the Eagles from 2006 to 2009. The debate became moot when he was released to create roster space for Michael Vick.

I am spreading the rumor that those differing opinions may resurface in 2010.

Myself? I was always a Hank Baskett supporter and thought the Eagles should have found more ways to work him the ball.

As a young Eagles' player, he twice won rookie of the week honors and supplied Eagles fans with three eighty plus yard plays for scores—none less significant than the bomb he caught against the Cowboys.

Baskett was a big play guy for the Eagles in a very limited role.

His value to the Eagles was diminished in 2009 by the emergence of the touted rookie receiver from Mizzou, Jeremy Maclin. Prior to the draft, I had high hopes for a productive Hank Baskett that season (not that I wasn't excited to have Maclin).

When the time came to activate Vick, someone had to go. At that time, the Eagles had seven receivers on the roster. It was going to be either Hank Baskett, Reggie Brown or Brandon Gibson to be released (who was later traded for the recently released Will Witherspoon).

I believe that the coaching staff thought they may have found something special in Gibson and they wanted more time to evaluate him. The choices were then Brown or Baskett.

In the end, the final decision to release Hank Baskett rather than Reggie Brown was primarily based on Brown's marginally higher trade value in part, but moreover, hefty salary cap penalties for terminating his contract.

So time has passed.

Now, Gibson and Brown have been traded and Kevin Curtis' future remains uncertain. The Eagles are in a position to evaluate new talent at the fourth and fifth receiver positions. Jordan Norwood (5'11", 179) from Penn State and Dobson Collins (6'2", 178) from Gardner-Webb are the young receivers that are slated for that competition.

Returning from the injured reserve, tight end Cornelius Ingram may also get consideration for some new receiving duties out of the slot. 

I still expect to see a further injection of competition at receiver. 

Signing an inexpensive free agent that can compete for the number four or five wide receiver position is something that I would expect the Eagles' front office to do.

Baskett is just one season removed from the offense and his familiarity with the scheme and the players would be a plus. Baskett also offers a large target option at receiver that the Eagles did not have in 2009.

What has he done lately?

As almost everyone knows, Baskett was signed and disappeared in Indianapolis until he clumsily redirected a surprise onside kick with his helmet during one of the more memorable plays in the history of the super bowl.

He was not tendered by the Colts and is currently an unrestricted free agent.

Indianapolis can't have anything good to say about Baskett and Philadelphia was subtly split as to his perceived ability. He was stiff at times, slow in getting off the line and somewhat inconsistent, but he can contribute on special teams, as a run blocker and be a real threat on the field in spread formations or short yardage.

Baskett has been in the NFL for four seasons. He is a young veteran that has had success, doesn't have a dirty injury history, knows the system and could fill a role. 

I like Hank Baskett as a fit for the Eagles 2010 training camp and possibly the 53-man roster.


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