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Springs visits Eagles; Sheppard discusses trade to Jets

After saying goodbye to Brian Dawkins, Lito Sheppard and Sean Considine over the past week, the Eagles have some openings in their secondary.

After saying goodbye to Brian Dawkins, Lito Sheppard and Sean Considine over the past week, the Eagles have some openings in their secondary.

It isn't entirely clear how Shawn Springs fits into that picture, but the veteran corner arrived at the NovaCare complex yesterday for a visit that will culminate in a press conference at 12:30 this afternoon. It would be a surprise if the Eagles haven't signed Springs by then.

Springs, 33, wouldn't seem a great fit for the dime corner job Lito left, and the Birds just finished paying Joselio Hanson - likely the only one of the half-dozen Eagles who began February as potential unrestricted free agents who will actually stay with the team - to a new contract that seems to ensure he's the nickel guy. Could Springs play some sort of hybridish safety role? Is the fact that Sheldon Brown's cap number for this season is about half the guaranteed money in Hanson's deal a factor here at all? Hard to see the Eagles getting rid of a soon-to-be-30-year-old corner to sign one who's about to turn 34.

Injuries limited Springs to nine games last season and nine in 2006, though he played all 16 Redskins games in 2007. Seattle made him the third overall choice in the 1997 draft, out of Ohio State, also the alma mater of his father, ex-Cowboys running back Ron Springs.

Sheppard, meanwhile, spoke to New York reporters yesterday for the first time since the trade. He went to the Jets over the weekend for a fifth-round draft choice this season and a conditional pick in 2010. He was always an entertainer in the Eagles' locker room, not opposed to controversy, but he seemed to be trying to start his new life with the Jets without raising any dust from the place he left.

"Obviously, we saw things a little different and one thing led to another," he said, when asked what happened to sour his tenure in Philadelphia. "The best thing for me, if I wanted to continue to play football, was to go elsewhere. That's what we decided on. That's in the past now.

"Change is not always bad. Sometimes change can rejuvenate a player . . . If a player is not completely happy, it can affect his play, so the best thing for that player and the organization is to let the player go elsewhere."

Rich Cimini of the New York Daily News has reported details of the trade, and of Lito's new contract, that are a little different from what was reported last weekend.

The trade was announced as Sheppard for a fifth-rounder this year and a pick next year that could range from the second to the fourth round. Cimini has said the contract extension includes a $10 million roster bonus the Jets would pay Lito this time next year, presumably only if they are very, very happy with him (otherwise he becomes a free agent):

"If Sheppard is injured and misses considerable time, the Jets can get out of the deal after 1 year and they wouldn't owe the Eagles a draft pick in 2010," Cimini wrote in his Jets Stream blog. "If that's the case, all it would've cost them is a fifth-round pick in the '09 draft. One person familiar with the deal said it could amount to a '1-year test drive' for the Jets.

"The conditional pick in '10 can rise to a second-rounder, but only if he hits an 85 percent playing-time plateau and receives the 4-year extension (triggered by the roster bonus). And if that does happen, the Jets would get a fifth-rounder back from the Eagles.

"If Sheppard makes 85 percent, but doesn't receive the extension, the Jets would owe a third-rounder to the Eagles and would recoup a fifth rounder."

Cimini's conclusion: "Bottom line: If Sheppard stinks, it'll be a 1-year deal for $3 million and would cost [the Jets] a fifth-round pick. If he becomes a full-time starter, the Jets probably will have to give up a second- or third-rounder in addition to this year's fifth and they'll have to pay him roughly what this year's top cornerback free agents [the Colts' Kelvin Hayden and the Ravens' Domonique Foxworth] received on their just-signed deals." *

For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily News' Eagles blog, Eagletarian, at