OK, the chances of Jerome McDougle playing a huge role in beating the Eagles this season for the Giants aren't that great. But it sure looks as if the downside of cutting McDougle Saturday is going to be exactly what a lot of us thought it was going to be -- helping out a hated divisional rival at its biggest position of need.
The New York Daily News reported Sunday that McDougle has signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Giants, who lost defensive end Osi Umenyiora for the season with a knee injury. McDougle will make about double what he would have made with the Eagles, after accepting a salary cut they forced on him in the spring.
Contrary to what you might have heard elsewhere, the Eagles' 2003 first-round draft choice, 15th overall, did not have to pass through waivers, as a veteran with more than 4 years pension credit. Presumably, the Eagles tried to get a conditional draft choice for him in a trade before releasing him, so they could keep him from the Giants, but that didn't happen. So here we are.
Yeah, given McDougle's injury history, he might not be healthy by Nov. 9, when the defending Super Bowl champs visit the Linc for their first 2008 encounter with the Birds. And his 2.5 sacks and consistently strong pass-rush pressure this preseason came mostly against other backups, and way too late (33 career Eagles games, three career sacks).
But here's what your humble Eagletarian wonders about, just a little: Eagles coaches say it took McDougle until 2005 to get the grasp of things, that he was ready that year to be a starter. Then he got shot in the stomach just before training camp. Lost that year, came back the next year in kind of a funk, just happy to be alive, not real ambitious, not real aggressive. Tore a triceps in 2007, missed last season.
Then, somehow, he showed up this year healed, not just physically but mentally and emotionally. Different guy on the practice field and in games. Maybe it would have all petered out eventually, and he would have become Jerome the huge draft bust again, but maybe not. We'll never know.
It wouldn't have been that hard to find out. Also contrary to what you might have heard elsewhere, the idea posited here a few days ago of keeping 7 d-ends on the 53-man roster was not ridiculous. Two of them, Victor Abiamiri and Chris Clemons, are on the shelf, and even if Clemons is almost back, he seemed nowhere close to grasping Jim Johnson's defense when he went down. The Eagles really have four game-ready defensive ends, without McDougle, and one of them is Darren Howard.
Think the Giants would be in a rush to sign Darren Howard, if he had been cut? I don't. Yeah, he finally came to camp in shape this year. What did he do in the preseason games? Did you ever notice him on the field?
But hey, he plays both d-line positions. He's equally invisible at tackle and at end. Gotta keep a guy like that.
And you couldn't go with two tight ends, pick up a third for the practice squad?
You absolutely have to have six linebackers, when most downs, you don't even have three on the field? Rocky Boiman had that good a camp? Update: Apparently, he didn't. The Eagles announced Sunday evening they have released Boiman after claiming on waivers LB Tank Daniels, an ex-Eagle the Giants cut Saturday. Daniels was a special teams cog in the Giants' Super Bowl run, forcing a key fumble on a kickoff return in their playoff victory over the Bucs. More on that later.
End of rant. BTW, the Eagles haven't announced their practice squad yet, as of this posting.
Update on the practice squad: Agent Ken Sarnoff confirms CB Trae Williams, from South Florida, will be joining the Birds for practice Monday. Williams, who played alongside Cowboys first-round pick Mike Jenkins in college last season, was initially seen as a second-round-type prospect, but this was a deep cornerback draft, and Williams measured in at the combine at 5-10, while struggling to break 4.5 in the 40. Jacksonville drafted him in the fifth round, then released him Saturday. It's unclear what this might mean for CB Kyle Arrington, the undrafted rookie from Hofstra who had a strong camp with the Eagles and seemed bound for the practice squad after his release Saturday.