Sheldon Brown feels taken for granted, the steady Eagles corner told your Eagletarian Monday evening.
"I've always been treated like the redheaded stepchild, ever since I was drafted," Brown said. He was explaining how he came to tell ESPN that he wanted to be traded, a move that provoked a strong, lengthy statement from the team Monday afternoon, denying his request and asserting that the contract extension Brown signed in 2004 does not make him underpaid in 2009.
"I've always been the nice guy, never said anything. I think they took that for granted," Brown said.
Brown said he reached the boiling point when, after a year of trying to get the Eagles to address his deal, he heard that team president Joe Banner had gone on WIP and said Brown's dissatisfaction had not been brought to his attention. Subsequently, Brown said, agent Jason Chayut's attempts to negotiate were shuffled off to recently hired Eagles consultant Andrew Brandt, who kept postponing planned meetings.
"My agent has been trying to do it in a respectful fashion," he said.
Brown said he made the public trade request in the spirit of "how do we get people to understand that this has been brought to your attention?"
Asked if he would skip the upcoming mandatory minicamp or hold out from training camp -- steps that most agents would consider financially counterproductive -- Brown said: "Who knows?"
Asked if the dispute might affect his play, should the Eagles stick to their vow not to trade him, Brown said: "It might. You never know. It's certainly something I'm going to be answering questions about all season long."
Here is the text of the Eagles' statement:
“It’s very unfortunate and counterproductive that Sheldon has chosen to go public with his feelings about his situation. After thorough evaluation by himself and discussions with his family and agents, he chose to accept an extension of his rookie contract early that provided his family financial security for the rest of his life. It removed any concerns about health or performance that all other players in his draft class had to worry about. He has four years remaining on that contract and, after taking the signing bonus and his first two years of salary into account, we feel that Sheldon is being paid fairly. Focusing only on a player’s salary for a given year is not a valid analysis.
“There have been league MVP’s, 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. It is only in the most extraordinary, in fact, less than a handful of circumstances in the last ten years that any players two new years into a contract with four years left have been adjusted. We don’t think this qualifies as an extraordinary circumstance.
“Sheldon’s comments under the circumstances actually serve to devalue him in a trade if we were willing to consider it; which we are not.”
Brown attempted to rebut several of those points.
First, he told the Daily News his reasoning when he signed the contract extension in 2004 was "they came to me early to do a deal" and if he continued to play well, that would happen again. As to other 2002 drafted corners' "concerns about health or performance," Brown said: "Most of the corners drafted in 2002 are out of the league now." As for diminishing his trade value by speaking out, Brown said the Eagles just traded for Buffalo tackle Jason Peters, who held out last summer, with three years left on a contract. "They just traded for a guy who diminished his trade value last year," Brown said.
But as incongruous as it might sound, Brown also said he wanted to stress that to him, "this is business, it's not personal. I appreciate (owner) Jeffrey Lurie; I love him to death."
Brown said the trade of fellow disgruntled corner Lito Sheppard to the Jets made him think the team might be open to dealing him.
"If you traded your Pro Bowl player for a fifth-round pick, well, I'm pretty sure I can go out and get you that right now," he said.