When Sheldon Brown told the Eagles he would like to see a trade at the cornerback position, this isn't exactly what he had in mind.

Brown wasn't asking the Birds to get another cornerback to take his job and further marginalize the dissatisfied veteran. He was looking for his own ticket out of town.

That's not how it worked, however, and even though it's a strange situation, the Eagles have replaced - but not removed - a player who asked to leave the team, and brought in a player who was equally unhappy with his own situation somewhere else.

Sheldon Brown and Ellis Hobbs are professional mirror images, except for Brown being four years older. Each is looking for the right place to play football. Brown is sure that place isn't Philadelphia. Hobbs hopes that it is.

This strangeness might not last until the regular season. Brown could be traded or released before then. But he and Hobbs could also compete for a cornerback position, winner gets a better contract.

That's too far off to consider now, particularly for Hobbs, who had an eventful month that spun his head around quite a bit. He was traded away from the Patriots, the only professional organization he had ever known. He fulfilled a long-standing promise to his mother when the whole family went back to Iowa State to watch Ellis accept his college degree, which he finished off while playing for the Patriots. He turned 26 years old. He changed cities, changed teams, and threw himself into the intricate work of learning a Jim Johnson defensive system.

"There were a whole lot of things going on," Hobbs said yesterday. "Getting traded . . . it's a business and you understand that. But it's also emotional because you felt that you gave your all for the organization. My only issue there was I felt that sometimes they didn't have my back. But one man's trash is another's treasure. I'm not the first guy to get traded. Guys go on and have successful careers, and that's what I plan on doing."

Hobbs had fallen out of favor in New England, even though he started every game for the last two seasons. The Patriots drafted a cornerback in the second round, signed two free-agent corners and also have a pair of previous draft picks at the position. With Hobbs entering the final season of his contract, and the Pats not wishing to either extend it or employ an unhappy guy with no security, they chose to trade him instead for the price of two fifth-rounders.

The Patriots have struggled to replace longtime cornerback Ty Law in recent seasons, and then last season had to replace Asante Samuel as well. Hobbs filled the role and he thought he had a home. And then the phone rang on the second day of the draft.

"It was bittersweet," Hobbs said. "There are a lot of guys on that team that I came in with and were very close to. I tried to get around and say goodbye to everyone."

He had an inkling the trade might be coming when the previous day the Patriots drafted Darius Butler in the second round, following up on the signings of Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden.

"I know that's just how they do it," Hobbs said. "That was me a couple of years ago. I came in to replace somebody and the guys I replaced aren't doing that bad right now. That's just the M.O., how things are done. Regardless of my feelings, or how they feel, you've just got to move on."

It might be ironic that Hobbs moves on to an organization where the outbound players say exactly the same things about the Eagles' way of doing business that he is saying about the Patriots' way. If you take the benefits that come with playing for a winning organization, you have to take the other side - the understanding that good organizations are run like good businesses and not charity homes.

Of course, the Patriots have more hardware to show for their efforts, but the comparison still applies.

New England fans liked Hobbs as a kickoff returner - he had the second-highest return average in the NFL last season - but never warmed to him as a cornerback. They didn't like his on-field celebrations after routine tackles and they never forgave him for being two area codes from Plaxico Burress when the Giants scored the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl two seasons ago.

Hobbs gets a second chance here, even if he didn't want to let go of the first chance yet. And, meanwhile, Sheldon Brown waits to be given a second chance somewhere else. They are nearly identical twins in a football sense, playing a demanding, high-wire position, trying to defend yourself against every bad thing that can happen on the field and in the front office. No one gets away clean forever, though.

"Life is a gift, but nothing in this world is given to you," said Hobbs, who has the words, "The Daily Struggle," tattooed prominently on his left arm. "My life is a metaphor for that. You get up one day and you are here, and the next day you are there. [The Eagles] believe I have the potential to be good in this organization, but I still have to go out and do it. That's how you get a contract. It's an audition, not just for the coaches but for the other players, so they can look at you and say they got the right man for the job."

And so the cornerback struggle continues for both Ellis Hobbs and Sheldon Brown. It is a different struggle for each, but, then again, not really.