Lito Sheppard plays cornerback for the Eagles as his day job. But he's
moonlighting as a player personnel advisor for general manager Tom Heckert.
After the season, Sheppard went to Heckert and touted two soon-to-be free agent wide receivers that he thought the Eagles should consider. Both were former college teammates of Sheppard - the Chargers' Reche Caldwell and the Texans' Jabar Gaffney. Gaffney, who caught 55 passes for the Texans last season, also happens to be Sheppard's cousin.
The Eagles passed on Caldwell, but ended up signing Gaffney.
"I guess I should be getting a finder's fee or something now," Sheppard said.
Sheppard is absolutely thrilled to be reunited with his cousin. Eagles fans are reserving judgment. After watching Terrell Owens get his walking papers and sign with the Eagles' NFC East arch-rival, the Dallas Cowboys, they're having trouble getting excited about the arrival of a guy that many scouts have described as "soft" and "an underachiever."
Gaffney averaged just 11.7 yards per catch and caught just seven touchdown passes in four seasons with the Texans, though poor protection and a slow-developing quarterback (David Carr) had a lot to do with those numbers.
"That was real tough," Gaffney said. "A lot of times, before you even got into your routes, you heard the crowd cheering, if you were on the road, because they got another sack, or if we were at home, they would start to boo. It got frustrating."
Assuming the Eagles don't sign another wide receiver or spend their first or second-round draft pick on one, Gaffney will go to training camp as the team's number two or three receiver. Reggie Brown, who caught 43 passes last season as a rookie, has become the number one wideout. Gaffney will battle Todd Pinkston, who missed all of last season with a ruptured Achilles' tendon, for the number two job, though the Eagles use three wide-receiver sets about 75 percent of the time.
When the Eagles go to three wideouts, the 6-1, 210-pound Gaffney will line up in the slot.
"I've been thinking about the Eagles ever since we (he and Sheppard) got drafted," Gaffney said. "That's all Lito ever talked about, was the Eagles. He said, `You need to come up here, you need to come up here.' Now I'm up here."'
Rumblings From Inside The Nest:
- The Eagles will be in Canton when their late star, Reggie White, gets inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer. They'll play the Oakland Raiders in the Hall of Fame Game on August 6. White and the rest of the HOF '06 class will be enshrined the day before. Because they're playing in the Hall of Fame game, the Eagles will open training camp a week or so earlier than usual. The Eagles also are rumored to be headed for China next summer to play the Denver Broncos in a preseason game there.
- The Eagles released two quarterbacks. The fact that neither of them was named Koy Detmer was a little surprising. Getting the ax were Mike McMahon, who started six games in place of injured Donovan McNabb last year, and Andy Hall. Hall spent most of the year on the team's practice squad. Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg vehemently defended McMahon after the season, even though he completed just 45.4 percent of his passes and threw eight interceptions in 207 attempts. McMahon was signed this week by the Minnesota Vikings, who are coached by former Eagles offensive chief Brad Childress.
- The Eagles promoted Howie Roseman from director of football administration to vice-president of football administration. Roseman, 30, has assisted club president Joe Banner in contract negotiations. "He has been an unsung, important part of this organization for a number of years," Banner said. "He has contributed greatly to the success of this team and we're happy to keep him as part of the nucleus in the front office."