Clinton Portis Gets Some Bad News
Well, well, well... the Eagles moved, shall we say, aggressively, to shore up the linebacker situation. You know they really perceived a problem there- as they hate to spend money on ‘backers- and now they got two earning north of $4 million.
Certainly the Eagles got the singular better talent and the upside: Takeo Spikes is a great player when healthy. But Buffalo got rid of a lot of risk- a huge financial commitment to a guy who hasn’t played very much at the high level indicated by his contract for two years. So moving past who got the better of the deal- the more relevant question is “was it a good trade?” or “does it help?” I think it probably is and does.
First, Takeo Spikes can’t possible be worse than Dhani Jones- who was not only the worst linebacker in the NFC East playing regularly (for two years now!) but also the worst regular on the football team. Darwin Walker was a serviceable defensive tackle- a position where serviceable players are a premium. But the Eagles have depth, provided by young players with escalating contracts who need to play there to justify their financial commitment level- and the fact that Walker is a decent player at a premium position made him a chip that could be leveraged.
The money thing is a little less onerous than it looks on paper. Walker is scheduled to make $1.3 million this season (and realistically had to be traded or extended- so you have to count him really for more than that) and Dhani Jones something near that- plus a missing contract for the draft pick- probably absorbs two-thirds of what they are expecting to pay Spikes to jack up Portis and Eli.
Candidly? They dealt from strength to fill a problem- and consequently, the Eagles hand simply looks better at the ‘backer position. Every guy projected to be there: Trotter, Spikes, Omar Gaither, Chris Gocong, the certain to come first day draft pick- has issues- but now a whole lot less needs to “go right” to get an upgraded serviceable rotation out of that mix. And if Spikes plays like he did late in 2006 for a whole season, they might be darn good.
The Eagles could mess up their run in 2008 with the old mix of linebackers- and as importantly, the departure of Walker isn’t costing them a game one way or the other. Either Patterson, Bunkley, Reagor can play and contribute or can’t- Walker wasn’t going to tip the equation of quality defensive tackle play one way or the other.