Brian Dawkins, the most prized defensive player of Jeffrey Lurie's tenure as the Eagles' owner, is going to be eligible for free agency in 2009, which means Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys could be his last in Philadelphia.

Lurie's first full season owning the Eagles was 1995, and Dawkins joined the team a year later as a second-round draft pick. Lurie has stated in the past that he thinks Dawkins deserves a place in the Hall of Fame at the end of his career. But the question is whether the Eagles still want their seven-time Pro Bowl safety around beyond this season.

Discussions have taken place all season about how many productive seasons Dawkins has left, and defensive coordinator Jim Johnson was asked to weigh in on the issue yesterday.

"I think he's had a good season, especially after the first three or four weeks," Johnson said. "I think he got over those injuries, and I think he's playing well. I think he's a great leader. It seems like he is playing with a lot of confidence. He is just back to his old self."

Being back to his old self is a lot different perception than many people had of Dawkins earlier this season when the question was raised whether the Eagles' safety was just plain old. That possibility was first raised after the Eagles' Week 2 loss in Dallas when the defense surrendered 34 points in a four-point loss to the Cowboys.

Dawkins eloquently defended his playing ability after that game, then went out and played one of his best games of the season in the Eagles' dominating defensive performance against Pittsburgh. He has also finished strong down the stretch and, given how much Lurie thinks of him, you have to think there's a good chance that Dawkins gets a new deal.

Johnson said he hasn't given any thought to the fact that this could be Dawkins' final game, and the safety said Wednesday that the issue is one that will wait until the season is over.

"It is my job to go out and do my job," Dawkins said. "My job this Sunday is against the Dallas Cowboys. As much as all those other things will be important at some point, the most important thing for me right now is the Dallas Cowboys."

While Dawkins conceded that thoughts about his future do arise sometimes, he said they also leave in a hurry.

"I am able to direct myself on the task at hand," he said. "That's preparing for a very desperate team. I love playing in these games like this."