At times the draft can be an adventure with the Steelers as quite often they do the unexpected;…
Team Report: Philadelphia Eagles
Two players the Eagles have some interest in who should fall to them are Colorado defensive end Tyler Brayton and Rutgers tight end L.J. Smith.
TEAM NEEDS: Defensive end, tight end, linebacker, wide receiver, safety, punter.
DE -- The offseason loss of Hugh Douglas and the failure to coax Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila to sign an offer sheet has left the Eagles a little light on the right side of the line. The projected starter, Derrick Burgess, is coming off February foot surgery. The only other option is pass-rush specialist N.D. Kalu.
TE -- Chad Lewis doesn't have much tread left on his tires. He's maximized his ability and has been a dependable short-route receiver for Donovan McNabb. But the Eagles would like to find somebody with a little more speed and yards-after-catch potential at that position.
LB -- The Eagles have brought in two free agents to play the MIKE and WILL positions, but both have question marks. Mark Simoneau weighs just 235 pounds and was initially brought in to replace Shawn Barber on the weakside. But when the Eagles later signed Nate Wayne, Simoneau was moved inside. Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson likes the speed both bring to the position, but it remains to be seen whether they're big enough to handle things at the point of attack.
WR -- James Thrash and Todd Pinkston both are solid receivers, but neither really is a No. 1 guy. Freddie Mitchell, the club's 2001 first-round pick, has yet to prove he can cut it as the slot receiver. He had just 12 catches last year as the club's No. 4 receiver.
S -- Second-year man Michael Lewis will replace departed Blaine Bishop at strong safety. Brian Dawkins is the best free safety in football, but he can become a free agent after the 2003 season and his contract negotiations have been going nowhere. Backup Rashard Cook is coming off a major knee injury.
P -- The Eagles let 41-year-old Sean Landeta walk. They signed Dirk Johnson, but probably will draft someone to compete with him.
--The Eagles' four drafts under Andy Reid haven't been as productive as they need to be if the organization is serious about eschewing free agency and trying to stay among the league's elite teams indefinitely via the draft.
Just six of their 31 selections in Reid's four drafts are projected 2003 starters. Two others who are no longer with the team -- safety Damon Moore and fullback Cecil Martin -- also were starters, bringing the total to eight. But that's still the second fewest number of starters from those drafts by the 12 teams that made the playoffs last season.
Also, just four of the 10 players they've taken in the first two rounds of Reid's four drafts are projected starters. That's the lowest percentage among the 12 playoff teams. Just 19 of the Eagles' 31 picks since '99 were on the club's roster at the end of '02, ranking them eighth out of the 12 playoff teams.
Reid, though, insists he is happy with his drafts. "That's not bad," he said of his 8-for-31 batting average. "We have guys playing and contributing. We came in with a fairly veteran defensive corps. You're going to have a hard time finding teams with the kind of depth that we have. We've had a lot of guys we drafted step in and contribute whenever guys have gone down."
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: S Rashard Cook (coming off knee surgery, but valuable as a special-teamer); WR Dameane Douglas (another valuable special-teamer, but he wants a shot at catching passes somewhere); WR Antonio Freeman (Andy Reid has told him he's welcome back. Don't look for anything to happen until June); P Lee Johnson (won't be re-signed); MLB Levon Kirkland (was solid as a between-the-tackles run-defender, but was exposed in space. Eagles need somebody with more speed in the middle); TE Jeff Thomason (No. 2 TE that the Eagles want back).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: LB Keith Adams (ERFA; $375,000/1 yr); LS Mike Bartrum (Potential UFA; $4M/5 yrs, $280,000 SB; 2003 cap: $711,000); QB Koy Detmer (Potential UFA, $3.25M/4 yrs, $650,000 SB; 2003 cap: $698,100).
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: P Dirk Johnson (FA; $942,000/3 yrs, $15,000 SB; 2003 cap: $235,600); FB Jon Ritchie (UFA Raiders; $1.5M/ 2 yrs, $400,000 SB); LB Mark Simoneau (RFA Trade Falcons; $6.7M/5 yrs, $1.5M SB); LB Nate Wayne (FA Packers; $13.23M/4 yrs, $4M SB; 2003 cap: $1.53M).
PLAYERS LOST: LB Shawn Barber (UFA Chiefs; $29.5M/7 yrs, $5.5M SB); S Blaine Bishop (cut); OG Doug Brzezinski (UFA Panthers; $4M/3 yrs, $750,000 SB); DE Hugh Douglas (UFA Jaguars; $27.11M/5 yrs, $6M SB); LB Barry Gardner (UFA Browns; $1.7M/2 yrs, $470,000 SB); CB Al Harris (traded Packers); P Sean Landeta (UFA Rams; 1 yr, terms unknown); RB Dorsey Levens (UFA Giants; $2.48M/3 yrs, $300,000 SB); FB Cecil Martin (UFA Raiders; terms unknown); KR Brian Mitchell (UFA Giants; $3.55M/4 yrs, $500,000 SB).
MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.
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