For better or for worse, Michael Vick's and DeSean Jackson's contract situations have dominated the business end of Eagles dealings like the quarterback-receiver combo often dominates a game.
There are valid reasons for this: Vick and Jackson are the Eagles' marquee players, and one is playing on an expiring contract while the other has clearly outperformed his original deal. But they will eventually get paid - the No. 1 preoccupation with NFL players - and it will be the Eagles that do the paying.
What about the other Eagles, however, who are playing in the last year of their contracts or the other players with a little more than one year left on their deals? What will become of those Eagles? And what do they think will happen during an off-season sure to be filled with labor strife and many unknowns?
An NFL contract is about as meaningless as a Black Eyed Peas song. It is not guaranteed, so when a player is released, his contract is voided. Certain players (read: stars), however, leverage with holdouts if they feel their play has exceeded the worth of their contract. This usually works. And teams will tear up the original contract and draft another.
Aside from Vick, the Eagles have seven starters who are signed only through the 2010 season: kicker David Akers, linebacker Stewart Bradley, guard Max Jean-Gilles, safety Quintin Mikell, cornerback Dimitri Patterson, punter Sav Rocca, and linebacker Ernie Sims.
A few of these players are shoo-ins to be back next season - provided there is a season - but most fall into that nether land between coming back and being cut. A number of contributors and sometimes-starters could also conceivably return - at least through training camp and the preseason - although the majority look destined to be discarded once their deals run out.
They are injured defensive end Victor Abiamiri, running back Eldra Buckley, guard Nick Cole, linebacker Omar Gaither, running back Jerome Harrison, injured cornerback Ellis Hobbs, linebacker Akeem Jordan, and guard Reggie Wells.
As for the starters, here is a brief synopsis on each:
Akers: The kicker didn't seem too concerned when asked recently about his contract situation. And why should he be? He's having one of his best seasons statistically and is on pace to set another franchise record for points in a season.
Bradley: If he had finished the season healthy there would have been a good chance the middle linebacker would get another shot to start next season. He did not. Bradley dislocated his elbow last week and is done for the regular season. If rookie Jamar Chaney can show over the next three games that he can do the job, Bradley may not be a fit.
Jean-Gilles: He appears to have wrestled the right guard spot from Cole. Still, it's not as if Jean-Gilles is as entrenched on the offensive line as, say, Todd Herremans is at left guard.
Mikell: It took until after last season, but the safety admitted that he allowed his contract situation to affect his performance. He is not alone. For NFL players, injury is only a play away. Mikell said recently that he was more at peace with his unresolved future. He's 30, though, and seemingly expendable with rookie safeties Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman playing well.
Patterson: He is a very good special-teams player, and a not-so-good cornerback. Patterson's future will depend on how the Eagles feel he will fit into their long-range plans and whether he is in search of a starter's salary.
Rocca: The punter is 37, but he is also having his best season statistically and otherwise.
Sims: The weakside linebacker received a chunk of change when he signed a rookie five-year deal as a first-round pick of the Lions. It's hard to imagine the Eagles extending a long-term offer after a shaky first season here. Sims seemed remarkably placid about his contract situation when asked on Friday. Maybe he knows something we don't.
Typically, at this time, the Eagles would have extended the deals for several players they envision as part of their future. Team president Joe Banner confirmed this thinking on Thursday. But the expiring collective bargaining agreement has stalled almost all contract negotiations.
Jackson certainly qualifies as an Eagle who would have had a new deal by now. Instead, he's hamstrung by the CBA and has allowed the situation to become a distraction. But he has another year left on his original contract, as do several other Eagles who have the potential to stay beyond 2011.
Center Mike McGlynn and defensive tackle Antonio Dixon have become solid starters, although McGlynn's future could be clouded by the return of the injured Jamaal Jackson. Defensive tackle Trevor Laws and tackle King Dunlap have made strides this season. Defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley and defensive end Juqua Parker are aging, however, and seemingly in decline.
But those decisions, if they have to, can wait until after another season. That is, if there is another season.
Inside the Eagles:
Read The Inquirer's Eagles blog, "Birds' Eye View,"
by Jeff McLane and
Jonathan Tamari, at http://go.philly.com/birdseye.
Blog response of the week
Posted on Dec. 17, 2010 at 4:06 p.m.
Needles pills steroids,
I DON'T CARE. Get Samuel on the field.