AS THIS season trudges to an inglorious finish, the Eagles needed to make a roster move to bring aboard fullback/tight end Emil Igwenagu, so he could back up Clay Harbor, with Brent Celek sidelined for Thursday's game against Cincinnati.
That move was to place defensive tackle Mike Patterson on the nonfootball injury-illness list, ending Patterson's season, agent Peter Schaffer said. But that isn't the part that has Schaffer angry enough to plan to file a grievance with the NFLPA.
When you designate a player as not having been injured in a football-related activity, you can take part of his remaining salary back. The Eagles, who took back about $1 million of Patterson's $2.1 million base salary earlier, as his recovery from offseason brain surgery stretched into midseason, elected to take about $125,000 of what remains due to Patterson this year, Schaffer said, after Patterson was hospitalized last week with viral pneumonia.
"Winning teams don't do this to their classiest players," Schaffer said Wednesday.
Patterson, 29, is the longest-tenured Eagle, having arrived in the first round of the 2005 draft.
Schaffer said general manager Howie Roseman's reasoning was, "Well, what did we get out of him this year?"
Schaffer said he asked Roseman what he got out of quarterback Michael Vick, scheduled to make $12.5 million this year, or recently released defensive end Jason Babin, who carried a $5 million base salary number.
Asked to respond, the Eagles issued the following statement: "Our number one priority is to get Mike Patterson well enough to get back on the football field. He has worked hard this year to get back and he has our full support as an organization."
Patterson has played in only five games, making three solo tackles and notching one sack.
Schaffer also represents Dallas nose tackle Josh Brent, who at this point is still being paid, despite his indictment on manslaughter charges following a weekend auto accident that took the life of practice-squad teammate Jerry Brown.
Schaffer said his grievance will be based on the notion that viral pneumonia is not by definition nonfootball-related. Patterson could have gotten it practicing, working out or playing.
"I have immense respect for [Eagles head athletic trainer] Rick Burkholder," Schaffer said. "If Rick or a doctor can tell me that Mike's pneumonia is definitely not football-related, I will withdraw my grievance. But this is not E. Coli."
The tiff is a curious one because since team president Joe Banner left for Cleveland, the Eagles have made a priority of improving the locker-room perception of management. It could be management feels that shift didn't yield any benefit.
Schaffer also is an agent who over the years has enjoyed a close relationship to the Eagles, particularly to Banner and Roseman, who themselves are no longer close, in the wake of Banner's departure. Every year for several years, Schaffer has lunched with Banner and Roseman on Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. It will be interesting to see with which man Schaffer chooses to continue the tradition.
CATCH? WHAT CATCH?:
Jason Avant was asked his reaction to that onehanded, bending-backward, spectacular sideline catch he made Sunday at Tampa.
"Play the next play," Avant said with a shrug. He said he isn't on Twitter or Facebook, didn't think much about a reaction until Rick Burkholder showed him a replay.
Seriously, Jason, what did you think when you saw yourself on the replay screen?
"Lot of effort. Don't give up on the ball. Gifts and talents come from Jesus Christ," he said.
"I can't really explain it. It's one of those things, you go after all of them. Some of 'em stick, some don't. Impressed? I was excited I made the play. I wouldn't say I was impressed, not to be arrogant or cocky or anything like that. You don't think about it - I don't know if you can make a play that's impressive to you."
Avant said he places more value on the catches he makes when he takes hard hits and holds on. Also "bigger moments" in playoff games, and so forth.
It helps to have a hand that can swallow a football. Avant said he wears 3XL receiving gloves, which he says are bigger than most players wear, but "Harold Carmichael wears 6X[L]."
Asked if he wanted to thank his hands, Avant said, "No, I'll thank the Lord. Who thanks his hands?"
Freddie Mitchell, we explained.
"My bad for asking that," Avant said, shaking his head. "I don't want to get into that."