Drew Rosenhaus confirmed this afternoon that he has been hired by disgruntled Eagles cornerback Lito Sheppard, who formerly was represented by Peter Schaffer and Lamont Smith.
But before we all assemble for driveway situps or a press conference on Lito’s lawn, a source close to the situation said Sheppard absolutely plans to report for training camp next week on time.
Rosenhaus didn’t want to talk for the record about what course of action he will take, but it was clear he does not see this situation taking the tone of his representation of wideout Terrell Owens, which became extremely adversarial.
“I’m very optimistic, working with the Eagles, that we’re going to find a mutually beneficial solution,” Rosenhaus said.
He and his partner and brother Jason met yesterday afternoon with Eagles player personnel vice president Howie Roseman. Eagles president Joe Banner, on vacation with his family, joined the meeting via phone.
Sheppard, unhappy with a 2004 contract extension that locks him up through 2011 well below the going rate for Pro Bowl cornerbacks, was given permission to seek a trade early in the offseason. Schaffer and Smith met with several teams, but offers never rose to the level the Eagles expected, and teams were leery of Sheppard’s contract demands, with Sheppard coming off an injury-plagued season.
So even though the Birds signed Asante Samuel to a six-year, $57 million free agent contract as Sheppard’s replacement, their current plan seems to be to go into the season with Samuel, Sheppard and Sheldon Brown, all starting-quality corners. Only Samuel is assured of being a starter.
Schaffer said he did not want to comment. He apparently found out a few days ago that he was being dropped.
Conventional wisdom around the league seems to be that at this point, Sheppard’s best option is to play well and be healthy this season for the Eagles, then try the trade market again. His hiring of Rosenhaus – who will be paid only when Sheppard gets a new deal somewhere -- would seem to indicate that Sheppard is disinclined to pursue that course.
A source close to the situation has said the Eagles also are talking to Rosenhaus about restructuring the contract of one of his other clients, star-crossed 2003 first-round draft pick Jerome McDougle. Apparently, the team wants McDougle – a long shot to make the team this year - to take a pay cut. McDougle is scheduled to make $950,000 in the final year of his rookie pact.