Eagles: The Hidden Message

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Most of the meaning that can be taken from most of the Eagles' reply to Sheldon Brown's request for a trade or contract upgrade was about as hidden as an elephant in a phone booth.

To sum it up, the reply went something like this: No.

You can't blame Sheldon for trying and the Eagles probably don't blame him at all. The cornerback was trying to find out if he had any leverage at the moment since the team is throwing around money and bringing in high-paid outsiders. Again, the same answer: No.

Brown has four years left on his deal. He didn't think he was getting the attention of the front office as he and his agent tried to get a fair hearing on their complaints, so he went all ESPN on them. And, in response, they went all William Jennings Bryan on him, putting out a reply that was particularly lengthy and a good bit scolding.

"It's very unfortunate and counterproductive that Sheldon has chosen to go public with his feelings about his situation," the team harrumphed.

Whether Brown has outplayed the terms of his contract or not, he certainly hasn't outplayed the length of it and the Eagles seem firm on making that point stick.

And since no challenge can't be turned into an opportunity, the team also took time to go on the record about another potential contract extension. That was the hidden part of the message, although not that well hidden if you know how to look for it.

All things Eagles are all things Donovan McNabb, which I expressed in a column in the paper today, and which the team was alluding to when it responded to Brown.

The Eagles put down the groundwork for not extending McNabb's contract yet, citing holy precedent they don't appear willing to break.

"There have been league MVPs, Super Bowl champion quarterbacks, and perennial Pro Bowlers who have been in a similar situation. All of their teams have required them to wait until their contract expired or there was only one year remaining before any adjustment took place," the statement said.

McNabb has two years left on his contract and it has been reported, usually in leaks directly linked to McNabb's camp, that he wants a better roster around him and a contract extension.

The Eagles are doing their part on the roster, but they are also drawing a line in the sand of contract philosophy. There's no way Sheldon Brown was in position to strong-arm them, but you have to wonder if they will remain on the muscle when it comes to McNabb. A good question, but they are certainly flexing those muscles this week.